Owens introduces bill to make legislature more open
Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 5:16 pm

Congressman Bill Owens introduced a bill Tuesday that aims to make the legislative process more open and transparent to the American people.

H.R. 5571, the Legislative Transparency Act of 2010, would require that any bill or amendment introduced in the House include tracked changes showing clearly what section of current law is being amended.

Currently, when legislation is introduced, the corresponding section of the law being amended is not shown, making it necessary to research the U.S. Code to determine exactly what changes the legislation would make. This makes it difficult for the general public to fully understand what laws are being changed, why they are being changed, and to get a better understanding of the intended and unintended consequences. Owens says.

H.R. 5571 requires that any bill or amendment introduced in the House must include tracked changes showing the current statutes the legislation proposes to change. Similar requirements already exist in the constitutions of several states, including Hawaii, Kansas, Illinois and Nevada.

In March, Owens voted to pass H.R. 946, the Plain Language Act, legislation to require federal government agencies to write public documents like tax returns, federal college aid applications, web sites, and Veterans Administration forms in simple, easy-to-understand language, and H.R. 1387, the Electronic Message Preservation Act, to require the White House to preserve all electronic communications and correct past deficiencies in the preservation of email by the White House and federal agencies.