Constitutional amendments or new laws to get this train back on track


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DRZinn
November 23, 2004, 01:13 PM
Starting a new thread RE: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=1372102

From my blog:

Hopefully this will create a little more awareness of how disfunctional the legislature has become. Bills are passed and signed into law with the contents unknown! Do I really need to point out how dangerous that can be??? They caught one item out of 1000+ pages!

I propose three new constitutional amendments.

I. A. That no new law shall be more than 100 pages, as passed and signed, in 10-point single-spaced type.

B. That every member of Congress shall be required to read every bill in its entirety, and sign an affidavit to that effect, or shall not be allowed to vote on said bill.

II. A. That no amendments may be added to a bill after it leaves commitee.

B. That the commitee discussion of a bill, from introduction to final vote, be conducted in a special session with no other legislators allowed.

III. That to pass, a bill must have the number of votes equal to a majority of all members of the house of congress in which the vote takes place, not a majority of members present.

Any other ideas?

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txgho1911
November 23, 2004, 01:42 PM
Maybe get some kind of road block in place to pre-emp new restricions at all levels of gov. Back up the 2nd with the 14th.
Article 4 of the United States Constitution., Section 1
Maybe once we have repeals down hard at the fed level get some new rules or change the current rules. Make new legislation to any new restrictions require a super majority in the house, senate ,or both.

erikm
November 23, 2004, 02:17 PM
Hmm.


All laws have sunset terms, not to exceed 20 years. Any law without a sunset term is assumed to have an sunset term of 20 years. A law's sunset term cannot be extended.
Laws shall only be passed by majority vote in either a roll call or secret ballot. Forthermore, this must be done by a quorum, though voting by secure telepresence shall be permitted.
Upon becoming, all law texts shall immediately enter the public domain.
Every ministry, department or agency of government not explicitly mentioned in the constitution shall be subject to a vote of confidence by Congress every 20 years. Any that fail this vote shall immediately be dissolved and have their records become open to the public and part of the national archive.
How senators are elected and how senatorial electoral votes for president are allocated is a state's matter.
Electoral votes for president from the House shall be allocated by congressional district, not state.
No one shall be elected or appointed to congress more than twice in succession or more than four times total.


The first is a 'housekeeping' amendment. 'Fad' laws automatically fade away.
The second should stop 'dead of night' and 'by aclaimation' actions. Both are IMO vile.
The third is to counter another vileness of american law. It is legal under US law to copyright law texts. See the building codes as an example.
The fourth is another 'keep your government neat and tidy' measure. We don't really need the IRS, do we? :D

The rest are thrown out for commentary :D

I'm deliberately using 20 year terms. That should help ensure that those reviews are carried out by fresh eyes.

Cheers,
ErikM :evil:

Deathwind
November 23, 2004, 02:36 PM
That first suggestion would also have the eventual added bonus of tying them up with renewing legislation that's important instead of passing new "fad" legislation.

Brett Bellmore
November 23, 2004, 04:39 PM
1. No bill may become law unless it's full text is made publicly available in searchable form a minimum of 5 working days prior to it's final passage. (So we have time to react to stealth legislation before it's too late.) In case of extraordinary emergencies, a 3/4ths vote will permit the text to be released on the same day as the vote.

2. Starting one week before any federal election, until the newly elected members have taken office, no legislation may be enacted without a 2/3rds supermajority vote of both houses. (No last minute bills or lame duck impositions. The supermajority provision is to deal with emergencies. It's not really an emergency if you can't get 2/3rds of Congress to agree that it's an emergency.)

3. ALL votes shall be role call votes, without exception, and no measure shall be deemed to have passed unless a majority of the entire membership has voted for it.

And, because Congress would never vote out these amendments,

0. Regardless of it's source, any proposed amendment to the Constitution which is ratified by 3/4ths of the states with the same language shall take effect, without any action by Congress.

DRZinn
November 23, 2004, 05:07 PM
- I'd make the sunset 10 years. Or even five.
- Text of all laws becomes public domain prior to passage: Yup.
- Electoral votes by district instead of state: Yup.
- No more than two successive terms or four total: Yup, but I'd thought about actually making that no more than so many successive years in any level of government service. Say, 10.
- All votes roll-call: Yup. "The people have got a right to know whether or not their <congressman> is a crook."
- Maybe a supermajority for all legislation?

Nathaniel Firethorn
November 23, 2004, 05:14 PM
That would mean the Constitution sunsets too, wouldn't it?

- pdmoderator

DRZinn
November 23, 2004, 05:20 PM
Maybe. Or we could just exclude the constitution.

Lone_Gunman
November 23, 2004, 05:50 PM
Get rid of the phrase "promote the general Welfare" from the Preamble.

That phrase is a general catch-all that Congress uses to dabble in things that it has no business messing with.

Education, welfare, and healthcare are all things that Congress makes laws regarding, yet from my reading of the Constitution, the only thing that could be construed as granting Congress that power is the phrase "promote the general Welfare".

Brett Bellmore
November 23, 2004, 06:54 PM
If you look at the records, that phrase was actually supposed to be a limitation on Congresses' power; It doesn't give any unlisted powers, it just requires that they be exercised to promote the general welfare, instead of the welfare of specific people.

The problem is that it's been interpreted by some as another power, to enact laws to promote the general welfare.

Nothing in the Constitution means much, if the people interpreting it aren't honest.

Standing Wolf
November 23, 2004, 07:30 PM
I'd make the sunset 10 years. Or even five.

I think two would be still better.

DRZinn
November 23, 2004, 09:03 PM
Get rid of the phrase "promote the general Welfare" from the Preamble.
And the interstate commerce clause, as well.

Waitone
November 23, 2004, 09:16 PM
Electoral votes apportioned by district and not state = bad karma. Keep electoral college unchanged and repeal the 17th amendment. States are responsible for their senators.

Currently all legislation publishes its sponsor's names. Every amendment shall be tagged with its author name. That will stop pork cold in its tracks.

Repeal the 16th amendment and enact a single flat rate tax for both individuals and corporation. Congress to vote for the tax rate for the next year no less than 90 days before end of the year recess. Until the 16th is repealed, all withholding is stopped.

Every law passed from a date certain will have a 5 year sunset provision. All laws in existence prior to date certain will have a 3 year sunset applied a priori.

DRZinn
November 23, 2004, 09:29 PM
Every amendment shall be tagged with its author name. That will stop pork cold in its tracks.
Not really - they're too blatant. Just don't allow amendments at all. THAT will stop pork, mostly.

Flyboy
November 23, 2004, 10:51 PM
Instead of 90 days (too much time; it'll fade from memory), I'd say that the tax rate must be set in October (or the month before the month in which general elections shall be held). Gives them at most forty days or so, if they're on the ball. Things should stick in the mind of the voters that way.

Also, as far as the bill length, I think 100 pages is too long. Make it ten. Further, be sure to include a provision that the bill length, including all portions included by incorporation shall not exceed that length. Otherwise, we run into the building code issue again. I like the idea of mandating public domain, and preferably publication to any party requesting, of any bill, before it leaves committee. In writing, or other format in common use at the time of the request. Writing is always allowed, e-mail (or web, or so forth) will be allowed, if the requester agrees. Amendments require an automatic notification to all requesters of the amendment (basically, any time it changes, requesters get notified). This can be done before the final vote; no sense in mailing out ten notices every time somebody changes spelling. All provisions must be relevant to the title of the bill. Definitely require a roll-call vote; don't allow secret ballot or voice vote. Those clowns are accountable to us; let's make sure they stay that way.

Leave the electoral college alone. Repeal the 16th and 17th; let the states decide how to send Senators, and end the income tax in favor of a retail sales tax. Spending limits, as a percentage of GDP. Balanced budget. Expulsion of members voting for bills found unconstitutional. No, I don't want term limits--the people ought to make that decision for themselves.

All bills should include a "legislative intent" section (not part of the actual text of the legislation for counting purposes) to explain what is to be accomplished. (For an example, see Oklahoma Statutes 21.1290, the Self Defense Act.) That provision will explain the intent of the bill; courts will be required to abide by the intent, as well as the text.

Am I unelectable yet?

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
--George W. Bush

Fletchette
November 24, 2004, 01:04 AM
This is my tabulation:

- Letter Count Limit Amendment (equivalent to about five standard pages)

- 10 Year Sunset Amendment

- Posse Comitatus II (those that vote for laws later judged un-Constitutional are guilty of conspiring to deprive the citizenry of their Constitutional rights, felony/5 yr min sentence)

- 10th Amendment Preservation Amendment (no Federal law shall limit funding to the States on condidtion of the States enacting a law)

- Fully Informed Jury Amendment

- Equitable Justice Amendment (juries must be selected by random lottery)

- Equal Protection Amendment (no law shall exempt any individuals or group of people - i.e. no special Congessional health care, parking privileges, LE only weapons, etc.)


:)

spartacus2002
November 24, 2004, 09:08 AM
Doc,
go take a look at the Constitution of the Confederacy. They had some good ideas, such as each bill can only deal with one issue, requiring a supermajority for spending/taxing bills, and some other stuff based on 70+ years of living with the Union's Constitution.

Just ignore the pesky slavery stuff.

Cool Hand Luke 22:36
November 24, 2004, 09:45 AM
A Constitutional Amendment that allows the US Senate to review decisions of the US Supreme Court. Under this, the Senate could set aside a Supreme Court decision, remand for further consideration, or hear the case itself with a 60 vote majority needed to substitute it's holding in place of the Supreme Court's.

Waitone
November 24, 2004, 10:10 AM
A Constitutional Amendment that allows the US Senate to review decisions of the US Supreme Court. Under this, the Senate could set aside a Supreme Court decision, remand for further consideration, or hear the case itself with a 60 vote majority needed to substitute it's holding in place of the Supreme Court's.Not necessary. Those dead European white guys are way ahead of you.

Congress has three weapons to use against the SCOTUS.

First, SCOTUS is a creature of the constitution. All courts below SCOTUS are creatures of congress. Congress gets tired of the nonsense coming out of the 9th circuit? It can dissolve it, expand it, or bust it up.

Second, congress can impeach judges. No comment necessary.

Third and most powerful, take a gander at Article III, Section 2 of the constitution. The final sentence says, "In all the cases before mentioned, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the congress shall make."

Please note that in each case above it is the responsibility of congress to act. Rather than act directly to address the problem, Congress decides to take the cowardly way out by dealing indirectly through appointments . . . .and we all know how effective that technique is.

Ian
November 24, 2004, 01:53 PM
Realistically, I don't think any alterations to the Constitution can fix the problems. The resolution can only come through widespread and continuing popular understanding of the problems and desire to solve them. If the people don't care, then the people they elect into power will find a way around ANY written law. Just look at what they've gotten around already.

Academically, though, here are some things I think would make for a more perfect Constitution (some stolen from Hologram of Liberty:

Allow legislators to be tried for passage of unconstitutional legislation.
Eliminate the "sovereign" and "good faith" immunities of government agents.
A Fully Informed Jury amendment
Modify the "interstate commerce" clause to allow the Federal government the power to regulate only the commercial actions of state governments (to prevent interstate tariffs and the like).
Eliminate the authority of Congress to repeal habeus corpus in ANY circumstance.
Eliminate the Federal monopoly on the post office.
Remove the preface of the Constitution (it can speak for itself without a statement of intent).

Frankly, my preference would be to simply remove Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 1.

DF357
November 24, 2004, 02:15 PM
All ammendments to a bill must be related to that bill.

eg: You can't attach a gun ban amendment to a bill authorizing a study of alligator mating habits.

DRZinn
November 24, 2004, 03:20 PM
- 10th Amendment Preservation Amendment (no Federal law shall limit funding to the States on condidtion of the States enacting a law)
Why have federal funding going to the states anyway? If a state needs money for something, it has the power to collect taxes to fund it. The federal government taxing the citizens, then giving the money back to the states is a problem not only because they make the return conditional, but because so much money gets wasted on the way through federal hands.

The federal government should collect only the revenue it needs to conduct its own business. The states can handle the rest.
Equitable Justice Amendment (juries must be selected by random lottery)
I think I like that, but you'd still have to have some sort of control to weed out the total idiots.
Modify the "interstate commerce" clause to allow the Federal government the power to regulate only the commercial actions of state governments (to prevent interstate tariffs and the like).
Beautiful.
All ammendments to a bill must be related to that bill.
That was my first thought, but they'd only play games with the "related to the original bill" clause. The AWB extension was "related" to the bill to stop lawsuits against gun manufacturers...

Fletchette
November 24, 2004, 03:40 PM
Quote:
- 10th Amendment Preservation Amendment (no Federal law shall limit funding to the States on condidtion of the States enacting a law)


Why have federal funding going to the states anyway? If a state needs money for something, it has the power to collect taxes to fund it. The federal government taxing the citizens, then giving the money back to the states is a problem not only because they make the return conditional, but because so much money gets wasted on the way through federal hands.

The federal government should collect only the revenue it needs to conduct its own business. The states can handle the rest.

Federal funding should go to the states from time to time depending on the needs of the state. For example, if a natural disaster occurred in Rhode Island, I doubt that the tax base of Rhode Island could support much taxation for repairs.

I think everyone is in agreement with the general concept - we don't want the Federal government passing de facto local law by attaching strings to funding that they directly tax from the people.

Now, if we can prescribe that the type of spending I described is Federal Spending, then I am with you - no need to send it through the state governments.

DRZinn
November 24, 2004, 03:49 PM
Emergencies, obviously, are a special case. But there should be no federal funding of states on any normal basis, conditional or not.

PMDW
November 24, 2004, 03:56 PM
I see a problem with the sunset thing. How many tens of thousands of laws are there? It would take for ever for congress to hold a vote on every one every 5, 10, 15, 20, whatever years.

Unless I'm missing something?

Ian
November 24, 2004, 04:41 PM
PMDW - Yeah, with a universal sunset clause, it would be impossible for Congress to keep even a fraction of the current laws on the books. To me, that's simply a wonderful side effect of the plan. :)

DRZinn
November 24, 2004, 04:51 PM
PMDW:

That's precisely the point. Most of the laws we have are entirely unnecessary amyway. For example, "hate crime, which would still be a crime without the racist/anti-gay/whatever motivation. To me, even murder would not need to specified as a crime on the books. You have purposely deprived someone else of their right (in this case, the right of life), and therefore are guilty of a crime.

But that's really a philosophical point. Still, most laws deserve to be scrapped.

M1911Owner
November 24, 2004, 04:56 PM
Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, which instituted direct election of senators.

Prior to the Seventeenth, the United States was exactly that--a union of states. The Congress of the United States consisted of two houses, each with a distinct purpose; the House of Representatives, which represented the People, and the Senate, which representated the several states. The legistature of each state appointed its senators, and the Senate therefore represented the states. The Senate functioned as check on the federal government trampling on the rights of the states. The federal government was answerable to the states.

This is no longer the case. The states have no say whatsoever in the federal government, which originally was a creation of these states.

Since the passage of the Seventeenth, there are been unchecked expansion of the federal government, both in size, and in the usurpation of power that was reserved to the states.

ObeOne
November 24, 2004, 07:27 PM
Brett Bellmore has a good point. It doesn't matter too much what is in the Constitution and what it says if the people who are suppose to follow it, enforce it, and defend it don't bother, or at best just pay lip service to it. :fire:
Granted there are some things that I would tweak, but the framework is good, it is the Execution that has gotten all F**ked up over the last 200 odd years. :banghead:
Think about the oaths that they swear, and how many of them are actually following it.
I think about this a lot from time to time since the Commissioning Oath is very similar.
It doesn't mean ????? if none of them bother to follow it.

Obe One
(not that some of you don't have some good Ideas that I like because I do ;) )

DRZinn
November 24, 2004, 07:49 PM
I forgot to mention the Seventeenth Amendment, but I agree it's gotta go. The FF obviously wanted to keep us well-insulated from direct democracy, while the liberals want (as long as it fits their goals) a total direct democracy.

Fly320s
November 24, 2004, 10:19 PM
My ideas:

1. When congressmen, senators, and the president leave office their benefits end that day. If they want a government pension or Secret Service protection, then they need to work for 20 years just like everyone else.

2. Elected reps get standardized office space and one secretary/assistant on our dime. Everything else comes out of their pockets.

3. Mandatory attendance for all sessions. None of this going out of town to avoid votes.

4. No changing the public record after a speech or session. What you say is what goes on the record, just like life.

I also agree with the majority vote of the entire congress idea, as well as one bill = one topic, no riders.

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