In Jefferson City, House Republicans try to look at how Washington, D.C. is operating and we try to do the opposite.
While the tumultuous debate over the President’s healthcare law in D.C. was happening, former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reminded folks that ‘we have to pass the bill before you can find out what’s in it’. This is the wrong mindset resulting from years of entrenched politicians who are out of touch with the American people. That is not how we do things in Missouri.
For the first time ever, Missourians can now access amendments to legislation online before they are considered by the full House. While this is a common sense step towards more transparency, it has the potential to bring great change to the lawmaking process in Missouri.
Recently, the House implemented a new tracking program that has allowed the House to cut operating costs and save tax payer money. The House of Representatives was flooded with over 1.1 million pages of paper on the chamber desks each year. With the newly implemented system, our paper usage plummeted 80% and our printing costs have decreased substantially.
Information is more readily available and legislators are better prepared for upcoming debates. This transparent measure has allowed the House to protect the integrity of state government from those who may try to covertly undermine the process.
With the old system, constituents could track the bills themselves, but wouldn’t know the changes that were made to them until it had already been voted on by the House. If a constituent had a problem with one of the changes, it was after the fact. These legislative failures often occur because the law-making process isn’t as transparent as it could be.
It used to be considered reasonable that House members would re-write a simple twenty-page bill into a 200-page behemoth on the last day of session, have it printed and distributed, and suddenly that day, it went to the Governor to become law. We’ve put roadblocks in the way of that practice in the Missouri House by requiring a new version of a bill to be submitted at least one day in advance, though more time for review would be even better.
As your elected State Representative, I work for you in Jefferson City. It’s my job to do the best I can to make good laws that govern all Missourians. Unlike the now-infamous statement of former U.S. Speaker Pelosi referenced above, I want you to have more opportunities to help us shape the laws we will all live under.