Monday, June 4, 2012

Ander Crenshaw Thinks Lawmaking Should be Done in the Shadows and Away From Public Scurnity

Rep. Ander Crenshaw [Republican -FL4] and ALEC hate the public being able to easily look up the laws they want to pass. So he wrote H.R. 5882 to stop it. HR 5882 is a bill that would essentially block bulk access to legislative information. This would make it more difficult for Congress to release information about itself online and would put an end to citizen-created sites like GovTrack, OpenCongress and WashingtonWatch that make it easy for you to read and track bills and legislation.

If you’re unsure just how useful it is to have open access to this info, consider that the successful citizen response to Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA occurred because people were able to read and share the original bill text from sites like these.

Here are some key points to remember about HR 5882:

 1. HR 5882 restricts your right to make use of legislative information. The public must have unrestricted access to congressional information, and that includes making it available in an API method so independent websites can query this information.

2. HR 5882 would halt dead in the water any efforts to open up legislative information. It creates an unaccountable secret "task force" to study the issue, which is really code for influence peddling and lobbyists.

3. When Congress amends HR 5882, it must require real-time bulk access to THOMAS information. It should also create an advisory group of people inside and outside the government to discuss how to improve THOMAS, with a ban on industry lobbyists. 

4. Bulk access to legislative information is uncontroversial, cheap, and common practice across the government. The concerns raised in the report accompanying HR 5882 either have already been addressed or are red herrings designed to divert attention away from the actual issues. 

Call to Action!
Please contact your congress person and let them know this must not stand!

Further reading

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