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New Yankee Report: Ideas to make the Connecticut legislative process more open and transparent

Far too often, Connecticut lawmakers seem content to listen to themselves talk about legislation rather than hear from the people who voted them into office.

Connecticut’s complicated legislative process does more to keep voters out of government than to give them a voice at the Capitol; with a new legislative session just around the corner, that needs to change.
 
That’s why Yankee Institute is offering a list of twelve ideas to make Connecticut state government more accessible to the average Joe or Jane in its newest report, Ideas to make the Connecticut legislative process more open and transparent
 
These ideas include:

  • Do away with concept bills: Citizens should be able to testify on specific bill language, not concepts that often have nothing to do with the final draft bill. 
  • A 24-hour rule for new bills: A bill should be publicly available for review for 24 hours before getting a vote in committee or in the legislature.
  • No more “rats” in the budget implementer: Every year, lawmakers sneak “rats” into the implementer, this subverts the legislative process and decreases trust in government. 
  • Government officials should have their own separate hearings:Members of the public shouldn’t have to wait hours while lawmakers debate amongst themselves at a public hearing. 
  • No overnight legislative sessions: Take a break and get some sleep everyone. 
  • Publish a “Go List” for the Senate: The House of Representatives publishes a “go list” of which bills could come up for a vote, the Senate should do the same. 
  • Continue funding CT-N: This resource has greatly improved state government transparency and should be maintained.

 
These changes – and many more – could transform Connecticut’s adequate government into an exceptional one by making the legislative process easier and more transparent for both the public and lawmakers.

“We offer these suggestions in the hope that they will improve transparency and workflow at the Capitol,” said Isabel Blank, co-author of the report and Yankee Institute’s Manager of External Affairs. “Our desire is to make it easier to get citizens involved at the statehouse, but also to make life better for lawmakers. This is a starting point – an opportunity to have a conversation. We seek and welcome other thoughts on how to improve the legislative process.”

Connecticut needs a healthy boost of public participation in it’s legislative process to create a more responsive — and responsible — state government.

“Connecticut’s lawmakers derive their power from the people, but too often the people are in the dark about what their elected representatives are doing with that power,” the report says.

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(2) Comments

  1. Thad Stewart

    January 21, 2020 6:57 am

    All of the above suggestions are outstanding. The problem lies in the soft money and kickbacks that the crooks in politics have become addicted to. Until lobbyists are posted on the wall inside the post office, the underhanded, backroom deals that seduce politicians into being self-serving criminals will always exist.

  2. Ron Page

    January 18, 2020 5:35 pm

    While your suggestion number five, “Require a new public hearing after a strike-all-amendment” is a good start, a critical related change would be a requirement to change the title or name of a bill to reflect the language’s intent.

    A recent example that comes to mind is 2017’s S.B. 522, colloquially known as “the bear bill”.

    Regardless of your position on hunting bear, the bill’s title bore no relation to the act’s criminalizing importation, possession, sale, or transport of African big-game. Changing the content and intent of a bill while retaining the original name is a convenient way to lie to the public while enjoying acclaim for some perceived brave and noble stand against injustice.

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