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Read The Bills Act

March 22, 2007

It seems like such a revolutionary yet simple idea. Make it illegal for lawmakers to not read the bills signed into law.  Double negatives aside, surely there must be some flaw in this logic?  Something I’m not thinking of?  You know, like our democracy is supposed to fly blind?

RTBA requires that . . .

  • 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.

The effects of these provisions will be profound . . .

  • 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.

This appears to have been started by a grassroots group called DownsizeDC, and have a blog urging everyone to use Digg to spread the word and to email their congressional representatives (read more).  They want someone to take this on.  Here is the bill (with the H.R. _____ and everything)

In the very least, it will be interesting to see if using Digg is a factor. They certainly picked a good title:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

    This Act may be cited as the “Read the Bills Act.”

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