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Owens calls for greater legislative transparency, again

A North Country lawmaker is renewing his call for greater transparency in the legislative process.

Democrat Bill Owens, who represents New York's 23rd Congressional District, says the Legislative Transparency Act of 2011 would make it easier for lawmakers to understand new bills and track amendments to current legislation.

The bill, which Owens reintroduced this week, would require all bills and amendments introduced in the House to clearly indicate what section of current law is being altered or changed.

Owens say people "deserve complete transparency in government," adding that his bill will make the lawmaking process "open and easy" to understand.

"The general public should not be left in the dark about how pending bills propose changes to the nation's laws, and this bill will help shed some light on how new laws affect their community," he said.

According to congressional staff, newly-introduced legislation does not make it clear which section of corresponding law is being amended - forcing legislators and the general public to research U.S. Code to determine how a specific bill changes current law.

Owens say that makes it difficult for the general public to "fully understand" which laws are being changed and why.

He says his legislation would help people get a "better understanding" of both intended and unintended consequences attached to certain legislation.

Last year - as part of his continuing push for greater transparency -Owens supported a House bill requiring all government agencies to write public documents in simple, easy-to-understand language. That includes tax returns, federal college aid applications, websites, and Veterans Administration forms.

Owens also supported the Electronic Message Preservation Act, which requires the White House to preserve all electronic communications.

A similar version of the Legislative Transparency Act was introduced last year. Owens spokesman Sean Magers says the congressman is encouraging House leadership to include his bill in the rules package for 2011.

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