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house Bill H.R. 5759

Does Congress Need to Make Legislation Easier to Read for the Public?

Argument in favor

Legislation can be very difficult to read and comprehend, so any steps that Congress can take to clarify things for readers would be desirable.

SouthernGal's Opinion
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10/12/2016
If this means that more of our lawmakers actually read the bills they vote on, then do it. Congress thoroughly embarrassed itself when after overriding President Obama's veto on the "9-11, let's sue Saudi Arabia" bill, they then discovered they had passed a really bad bill. They would have known this if they had read the bill before voting on it.
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ambthomas's Opinion
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10/17/2016
Yes, citizens and lawmakers should be able to clearly understand what exactly is being proposed. While we all currently have the ability to investigate any laws being debated, the wording can be overly complicated and make the layman feel overwhelmed and excluded. Passing transparency laws like this will be an important step in making Americans feel like they can have a voice in their government.
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Mart's Opinion
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10/17/2016
Voters have an absolute right to know what is taken from them. All laws take from A to give B. Thus tell us what rights we are losing due to a piece of legislation.
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Argument opposed

Who really even reads legislation in the first place? If people are that motivated they can look up the laws getting changed on their own.

Loraki's Opinion
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11/20/2016
How about if the government quits dumbing down our society! Then you wouldn't have to pass bills like this! I think the majority of our lawmakers, but especially the Democommies, prefer an uninformed (and don't forget: compliant) populace. Bills such as this one just perpetuate the notion that our society needs to be "taken care of" by the "all powerful, all-knowing Wizard of Oz". I find that disgusting, not to mention demeaning!
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jayar's Opinion
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10/12/2016
How about making it easier for legislators to read. No big words and not too many pages so they might actually read the law BEFORE they pass it.
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Jedadiah's Opinion
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11/05/2016
Why should we dum down our government. Citizens should educate themselves so the can understand it.
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What is House Bill H.R. 5759?

This bill would require Congress to change how it publishes legislation that’s introduced in order to make it easier to read and figure out what it does. When legislation amends existing laws, rather than simply referencing the law to be changed in the bill text it would be required to show the entire section of law and what omissions or insertions are proposed.

The legislation would take effect on January 3, 2017.

Impact

People who want to read legislation; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5759

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Much of what is required by this legislation was enacted by the House of Representatives on a 234-172 vote when it adopted its rules for the 114th Congress, though they could be abandoned or modified when a future Congress convenes. However, the Senate has not acted on all of these modernizations so this bill would legally require them to occur in both chambers of Congress on a permanent basis.

This legislation has the support of six bipartisan cosponsors in the House, including four Republicans and two Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Screengrab)

AKA

Readable Legislation Act of 2016

Official Title

To amend chapter 2 of title I of the United States Code to establish the style for amending laws.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJuly 13th, 2016
    If this means that more of our lawmakers actually read the bills they vote on, then do it. Congress thoroughly embarrassed itself when after overriding President Obama's veto on the "9-11, let's sue Saudi Arabia" bill, they then discovered they had passed a really bad bill. They would have known this if they had read the bill before voting on it.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    How about if the government quits dumbing down our society! Then you wouldn't have to pass bills like this! I think the majority of our lawmakers, but especially the Democommies, prefer an uninformed (and don't forget: compliant) populace. Bills such as this one just perpetuate the notion that our society needs to be "taken care of" by the "all powerful, all-knowing Wizard of Oz". I find that disgusting, not to mention demeaning!
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, citizens and lawmakers should be able to clearly understand what exactly is being proposed. While we all currently have the ability to investigate any laws being debated, the wording can be overly complicated and make the layman feel overwhelmed and excluded. Passing transparency laws like this will be an important step in making Americans feel like they can have a voice in their government.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    How about making it easier for legislators to read. No big words and not too many pages so they might actually read the law BEFORE they pass it.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Voters have an absolute right to know what is taken from them. All laws take from A to give B. Thus tell us what rights we are losing due to a piece of legislation.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely. Whenever I read about proposed bills, a cogent way to do so should include all references materials. Currently, I believe many bill are instilled with confusion so it can be argued later in court cases or to give those on the other side of the isle an interpretation for support. I would also like a glossary to clarify word meaning.
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    Yes so people could see what Congress is getting done and hold them accountable
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    Yes. I believe that this change would make it easier for all including the legislators.
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    All laws should be written so we don't need attorneys to interpret. Sure would make the Supreme Court Justices jobs easier.
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    Eliminate "legalese", gobbledygook, and deliberate obfuscation? What a concept! Now if only we could get Congress to agree to limit one bill to one topic.
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    Yes, we would like to find out what's in it before they pass it.
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    If it's easier to read maybe members of Congress would read them.
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    A lack of engagement on the part of ordinary citizens in the legislative process weakens our democracy by making people feel excluded and suspicious of Washington. Impenetrable and/or sloppy language can only contribute to this phenomenon and must be avoided. Bills with similar aims have been passed in other countries including France.
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    They should attach an additional section putting the law in simpler terms for those who aren't fluent in legal-ese, but it's important to have the laws officially written the way they are to avoid loopholes.
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    And more important is that congress will read, and understand before they vote on a bill.
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    Why should we dum down our government. Citizens should educate themselves so the can understand it.
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    Yes, so then maybe this way we wont have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.
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    More clarity is necessary as is even more visibility. The public doesn't know what legislation is being considered or voted on at any time.
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    Nobody reads it anyway
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    The linguistics used in legislative writing are clear and concise. Expand your vocabulary and it isn't hard to read at all.
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