Illinois’ “Show Us” Amendment


As Justice Louis Brandeis said (I think), states can serve as laboratories of democracy. Out of the Land of Lincoln comes an idea, an effort proponents say is a first step in restoring transparency to lawmaking in the Prairie State.

Citizens and activist groups are attempting to pass the "Show Us" amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would require a three week (21 days) delay from the date all non-emergency bills are introduced to when they receive a final vote. The goal is to give citizens an opportunity to know what the legislature is voting on and give input. Proponents, headed by the Illinois Democracy Project, decry what they call "drive-by legislation," where devious legislators slyly insert changes into bills at the last moment, without other members of the assembly, the press and the public knowing. "Currently a bill could be passed in fewer than 90 minutes, often without legislators having time to read the entire document or knowing exactly what the bill entails," said IDP’s executive director as quoted by the Collinsville (Ill.) Herald.

Supporters are hosting public forums and building a coalition, which so far includes the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the League of Women Voters and the 150,000-member Illinois Parent Teachers Association. They will need to collect 350,000 signatures to get the measure on the November 2008 ballot.

Sunlight’s a big supporter of a 72 hour rule for Congressional legislation. Fortunately, we wouldn’t have to pass a consitutional amendment to get Congress to abide by it — just a resolution to amend the Rules.