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.