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[COMMENT: Another winner from Downsize DC.
SUBJECT: The Read the Bills Act
Americans have a right to be angry at the way Congress does things. But what goes on in Congress also goes on in our state legislatures, and even foreign parliaments.
New Zealand, for instance, is considering an election finance bill that favors incumbents and cracks down on freedom of speech and third parties (sound familiar?). It's so bad that the New Zealand Herald has now run two front-page editorials against it.
Worse, the bill is "nearly impossible to read. ... Itís so bad a commission canít interpret the bill to determine if it's legal." Source: Dumb Laws in the News
And here's a story closer to home. Three weeks ago, a joint committee in the Utah legislature considered a bill that would prevent the state's Retirement System from investing in foreign companies that do business in Iran. Concerns were raised about the effectiveness and possible unintended consequences of the bill. But as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, this didn't stop one "principled" committee member, who gives the world this amazing quote:
"We get bound up here all the time on 'we don't understand this.' Well, there's a lot of things we vote on that we don't understand, but I would rather stand on the principle of 'let's go for it.' " - Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars
Sen. Buttars also called for a roll call vote on the measure, to gauge the "patriotism" of each member. The bill passed. Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Passing complicated, unreadable bills that attack our basic freedoms. Rushing to pass bills without understanding them or caring about the consequences. Why do legislatures do these things? Because they can. Because no one is forcing them to read the bills they pass.
New Zealand needs a Read the Bills Act. Utah needs a Read the Bills Act. Indeed, every legislature in the world needs a Read the Bills Act.
But we need to start somewhere, and Congress is the perfect place. After all, in the week of Nov 12-19, the House passed 29 bills totaling 1046 pages, and the Senate passed 23 bills totaling 256 pages. What more evidence do we need that Congress pays little attention to most of the bills they pass? (The list of bills is at the end of the blog version of this Dispatch.)
Downsize DC's Read the Bills Act will require all proposed bills to be read before a quorum in Congress. Every one who votes for a bill must sign an affidavit the he or she has attentively read the bill or heard it read. 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.
Unreadable bills will be a thing of the past. Congress couldn't rush to pass questionable bills under the principle of "let's go for it," because the people will have a fair chance of contacting them and expressing their opposition. To learn more about the Read the Bills Act, click here.
Tell your Representative and Senators that they will advance the cause of liberty and representative government by introducing and passing the Read the Bills Act. You can do so here.
And to add your website or blog to the Read the Bills Act Coalition, click here.
By joining the Coalition, you will give your readers an opportunity to learn about the Read the Bills Act and join in the campaign. We will also link to your site at our blog, and introduce it to our readers in a Dispatch like this one.
Today we welcome two new members to the Read the Bills Act Coalition
The Contemporary Conservative
War Inside My Head
Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.
Assistant to the President
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