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Tag Archive: Madison

5 Things Reps Should Do to Be More Transparent

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With 67 new representatives and 12 new senators just sworn in, it's likely that many members of the 113th Congress are still learning the way to their offices. As they get settled, here are 5 recommendations that they (and their colleagues) could implement right now to be more transparent. 1. Create an Online Guest Book Starting the day they they were sworn in, lobbyists, well-wishers, and constituents have streamed into member offices. While visitors to the White House are listed online, the same isn't true for visitors to congressional offices. At their front doors, representatives should set up an electronic guest book where visitors are encouraged to type in their names, briefly summarize why they're visiting, and say whether they're a federally registered lobbyist. That information should be posted on the member's website. In addition, members should post online their just completed daily schedule of activities, as maintained by their scheduler, at the end of each day. It will help people better understand what they do on a daily basis. 2. Who's Who in the Office Most meetings that take place in a congressional office are with staff, not the representative. Each staffer is the member's point person for a particular topic. All offices should post online a list of staff working in the office and the issue areas they handle. (Some already do this.) This info is already available from private companies for a fee, but it should be available for everyone.

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Finland Experiments With Citizen-Introduced Legislation

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The online magazine Slate reports that Finland recently launched an open-source web platform called Open Ministry to allow citizens to propose legislation, which must be voted upon by Parliament if it receives the online attention of 50,000 citizens. "Each suggested law gets six months to gather traction. Whether the majority is in favor or not doesn’t matter, as anything with 50,000 total shares (likes or dislikes) moves on to the next, official round of voting. Two weeks ago, a proposal to ban the practice of farming animals for the fur trade became the first Open Ministry idea to pass the threshold for Parliament[ary] consideration. Out of the roughly 340 pitches currently on the site, the fur-trade idea is far and away the most popular, having collected more than 56,000 shares with the majority in favor of the ban."

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