Congressman Bill Owens today introduced a bill to make the legislative process more open and transparent to the American people. The Legislative Transparency Act of 2011 would require that any bill or amendment introduced in the House include tracked changes showing clearly what section of current law is being amended. Owens introduced a similar version of the legislation last year and pressed U.S. House leadership in January to include the provision in the rules package for the 112th Congress.
"The American people deserve complete transparency in government, and this legislation will help make the lawmaking process open and easy to understand for everyone," Owens said. "The general public should not be left in the dark about how pending bills propose changes to the nation's laws, and this bill will help shed some light on how new laws affect their community."
Currently, when legislation is introduced, the corresponding section of the law being amended is not shown, making it necessary to research 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.
The Legislative Transparency Act of 2011 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.
This is the latest in a series of initiatives from Congressman Owens to include an increased level of transparency and openness in the federal government. In the 111th Congress, 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.