Rafael DeGennaro’s blog

Lobbyist calls for better legislating

By Rafael DeGennaro, March 24, 2006 – 10:58am.

Read this wise man on the work of legislating. Super lobbyist H. Stewart Van Scoyoc started out in 1974 representing Dupont when “big donors still delivered bundles of cash to lawmakers’ campaign account.” He has in the last 16 years built “the largest independent lobbying firm in Washington” with more than 300 clients. In a big picture interview with National Journal (“Taking the Long View”, March 25, 2006), he’s nostalgic for the days when members themselves used to do the tedious work of going through the bills line by line in committee. His favorite reform? Make committee markups more “open” and participatory, with real legislating, instead of working it out later off the floor. (ReadtheBill.org’s point — which may not be Van Scoyoc’s — is that later never comes and too often shoddy bills are rushed through the floor and NEVER get adequate scrutiny.)

It’s about power, not party

By Rafael DeGennaro, March 20, 2006 – 7:42pm.

This March 18, 2006 editorial from the Chronicle (Centralia, WA) endorses Rep. Baird’s resolution, H.Res.688. But it makes the excellent point that:

“The shortcoming in legislation disclosure works both ways politically. In our just-concluded legislative session in Olympia, for example, majority Democrats scheduled a vote on the supplemental budget just a day after reaching an agreement on it. Republicans say they learned about the agreement only from the news media.”

Rep. Steve King’s disappointing 48 hours online bill: Less time than current three-day rule

By Rafael DeGennaro, March 19, 2006 – 10:53pm.

Rep. Steve King introduced H.R. 4967 on March 2006. The bill contains some tough provisions on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately, it would only require bills to be posted online for 48 hours. This is less time than required under the current three-day rule, though it is true that the three-day rule is routinely waived. This is such a disappointment, because H.R. 4967 clearly reflects some reform spirit.

I don’t understand why both House Democrats and Rep. King want to reduce the three days required under the current rules to 48 hours. That’s going backwards in time. Instead, the three-day rule should be modernized to require 72 hours, as does Rep. Brian Baird’s resolution, H.Res. 688, which ReadtheBill.org supports.

Thomas Mann is correct: experts will be main bill readers, not ordinary citizens

By Rafael DeGennaro, February 28, 2006 – 9:31pm.

In a March 1, 2006 story in the
Washington Post
, Thomas Mann makes an important point about who will read the bills:

Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution said these efforts are important because lawmakers have increasingly abused the earmarking practice. Still, he said he doubts ordinary citizens would read through the bills. Rather, “it would be available for people with an interest one way or another to see what got put in.”

He is correct. It show why 72 hours is the minimum needed.

Anything goes: President signs bill Congress never passed

By Rafael DeGennaro, February 9, 2006 – 9:09pm.

The Washington Post reported Feb. 9, 2006 (“Glitch surfaces in Budget Measure”) that the President signed into law a bill containing a time duration that the House did not pass.

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