Is it Time for a Truth in Legislation Covenant?

With the spate of mind numbing legislation that has been passed wherein Members of Congress “do not know what is in the Bill until after it passes”, I believe Congress should take a vow of Truth in Legislation that is tied to accountability for drafting, reviewing and passing.  I recommend the following:

·         Truth in Legislation Covenant:

o       All legislation must be written by Member(s) of Congress, and their duly authorized and approved Congressional staff, only.   All legislation shall record and maintain the author(s) of each section of the proposed bill at all times (in a fashion similar to redlined documents or comments), so as to be searchable by Members and public alike.  Each piece of passed legislation shall maintain this record of attribution. Executive or Judicial Branch employees, together with contractors or agents are prohibited from drafting legislation.  Nothing in the Truth in Legislation covenant shall preclude the Executive of Judicial Branches from suggesting legislation.

o       All legislation considered for floor vote and final approval may not take place for a minimum of 90 days after the legislation is drafted and ready for vote, and made available to the public for review and comment through either free electronic search or request from the Government Printing Office for fee.

o       All Members of Congress shall certify that they have read the proposed legislation prior to final vote, and shall be given the opportunity to attach a “Sense of the Member” note to the record stating any concerns with the legislation.  This “Sense of the Member” memorandum for the record shall have no lawful effect, but will serve to keep the record clear.  Only Members of Congress shall draft and record such memorandums for the record and through submission certify that such comments represent their position or concern with the legislation.

o       Further, the final bill must have an abstract that is clear and concise in the communication of intent and instructions to any agency tasked with implementation.  It must outline key changes to current legislation, and for new legislation identify the impacts on citizens, Federal and State agencies.  Should implementation of the bill stray from the intent and unintended consequences result, there would be reasonable basis to strike such implementing regulations.

o        This might put a few lobbyists and special interest groups out of business, but our Congress would be more informed, accountable, and less likely to pass bills that exceed 2000 pages in length that are not read.