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June 09, 2006

More from yKos -- why didn't I know about this?

Taking a break from the Panels, Roundtables, Workshops, and Keynotes here at the Riviera, I wandered into the vendors' area.  One booth that caught my eye was an organization called ReadtheBill. 

Their interest is what they're calling the "72 Online rule", a House resolution with a very plain purpose.  Its title:

Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to require that legislation and conference reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House, and for other purposes. [Source]

Simply put, the resolution calls for requiring bills to be published in their entirety on the internet for at least 72 hours prior to being voted on.  As one of ReadtheBill.org's information sheets notes,

72 hours is consistent with the existing (but routinely waived) three-day rule in the House, and related rules in the Senate.  72 is long enough to analyze a piece of legislation and alert those who are interested, but short enough to be readily enforced.

24 hours may be enough time to FIND a bad provision in a bill, but it is not enough time to FIX it.  Because the bills will be read by experts, who will sound the alarm to citizens and the media, it is crucial to have 72 hours to allow that process to play out.  72 hours allows time for citizens to contact their members of Congress.

Moreover, anything less than 72 hours would weaken existing House rules and is not reform, but rather a surrender to business as usual.  The three-day rule should not be weakened to become the 24-hour or 48-hour rule.

These new rules wouldn't prevent passage of bad provisions, but would do a great deal to assure that they are seen and aired in the public arena.  The opportunity for citizen action regarding provisions would be enhanced.

I'm posting about this proposed resolution because, to my surprise, its principal sponsor is Brian Baird (WA-3).  Why didn't we know that one of our own has proposed this eminently reasonable, clearly needed resolution?  After all, he introduced the resolution way back in February!

Baird's resolution has drawn support from several media outlets in his district, including at least one surprising one -- the very conservative Centralia Chronicle.  He has 32 co-sponsors, including at least two Republicans.

Oddly, though, his only Washington State co-sponsor is Adam Smith.  Jim, Jay, Norm, Rick ... where are you?  Hell, for something like this, something that shouldn't be a partisan issue, something that should really be a no-brainer, I'd even wonder why Dave, Doc, and Cathy haven't signed on.

Not that this sort of openness in what goes into our public laws should be limited to the federal level.  Such rules should be in place at every level of government.  Are you listening, Olympia?

While on the ReadtheBill website here at YearlyKos, I put in my identifying information for their database.  Doing so generated an auto-email to my Congressman, so Jim McDermott has heard from at least one of his constituents.  I hope I won't be the last.

Posted by Neal Traven on June 9, 2006 at 05:54 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Rep. Baird announced this rule change on the Thom Hartmann show in February. I can't remember if it was his local Portland show or the national show, but it didn't get much play. Glad to see there is a campaign behind it.

Posted by: Chad Lupkes | Jun 11, 2006 2:31:18 PM

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