Friday, April 13, 2007

Make Congress Read The Laws It Passes!

If you haven't visited the website Downsize DC, then you should.

They believe that the federal government has grown too large, too intrusive, and too expensive. They believe in constitutional limits, small government, civil liberties, federalism, and low taxes.

Among other issues they are working on, they have a webpage for the Read The Bills Act
The premise behind this legislation is simple. Downsize DC believes that it is the fiduciary responsibility of Congress to read each word of every bill on the floor of Congress before they vote. Every Congressman should know what each bill contains. (Heck, I think we ought to do this in our State legislatures as well!)

Downsize DC believes that Congress has not met their fiduciary duty.

* They carelessly pass mammoth bills that none of them have read. Sometimes printed copies aren't even available when they vote!

* Often no one knows what these bills contain, or what they really do, or what they will really cost.

* Additions and deletions are made at the last minute, in secrecy.

* They combine unpopular proposals with popular measures that few in Congress want to oppose. (This practice is called “log-rolling.”)

* And votes are held with little debate or public notice.

* Once these bills are passed, and one of these unpopular proposals comes to light, they pretend to be shocked. “How did that get in there?” they say.

Downsize DC says that there is a basic principle at stake here. America was founded on the slogan, “No taxation without representation.” Downsize DC believes that a similar slogan applies to this situation: No legislation without representation.
To that end they say this:
We hold this truth to be self-evident, that those in Congress who vote on legislation they have not read, have not represented their constituents. They have misrepresented them.
So they have come up with the Read The Bills Act which requires this:

* Each bill, and every amendment, must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and Senate.

* Every member of the House and Senate must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.

* Every old law coming up for renewal under the sunset provisions must also be read according to the same rules that apply to new bills.

* Every bill to be voted on must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote, and Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill.

* Passage of a bill that does not abide by these provisions will render the measure null and void, and establish grounds for the law to be challenged in court.

* Congress cannot waive these requirements.

Downsize DC believes that these will be the effects of these provisions:

* Congress will have to slow down. This means the pace of government growth will also slow.

* Bills will shrink, be less complicated, and contain fewer subjects, so that Congress will be able to endure hearing them read.

* Fewer bad proposals will be passed due to “log-rolling.”

* No more secret clauses will be inserted into bills at the last moment.

* Government should shrink as old laws reach their sunset date, and have to be read for the first time before they can be renewed.

I think it's a great idea.. and one I will support. If you agree, then visit their website and see what you can do to help this initiative.