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Amash introduces bills to increase government transparency and accountability

March 1, 2018
Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    
March 1, 2018
Corie Whalen
(202) 225-3831
Amash introduces bills to increase government transparency and accountability

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) today introduced the Readable Legislation Act of 2018 and the Searchable Legislation Act of 2018.

The Readable Legislation Act requires every bill to show the changes the bill makes to the full text of existing sections of law the bill repeals or amends. Without context, provisions to strike text, repeal sections, or insert new language provide little meaningful information about what the bill does. Requiring that bills reproduce amended sections of law and show how the bill would change them—similar to the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word—will allow members, staff, and constituents to better understand federal legislation.

The Searchable Legislation Act requires every bill, resolution, and document produced by Congress to be created, transmitted, and published in searchable electronic formats, consistent with recommendations from a congressional data task force the bill codifies. These new standards will open up the legislative process by increasing access to congressional documents.

Hudson Hollister, Executive Director of the Data Coalition said: “Bills and other legislative materials are largely drafted and published in static documents, like PDFs, instead of open, structured data. The Searchable Legislation Act will set a presumption in favor of open data: searchable, transparent, and machine-readable.”

Alexander B. Howard, Deputy Director of the Sunlight Foundation said: “The Readable Legislation Act and the Searchable Legislation Act would both make meaningful, tangible improvements to public access and understanding of the raw materials of democracy: bills before Congress. If enacted, this legislation would build upon a decade of progress opening the first branch of government to the people it serves."

Upon introduction, the bills were cosponsored by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.Dak.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Luke Messer (R-Ind.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Dave Brat (R-Va.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

The bills are attached.