The rule of law is central to human governance. It is incumbent on those citizens who make the laws and those citizens who enjoy or suffer the consequences of laws to realize that lawmaking is the fundamental exercise of human self-governance. Its importance dictates that lawmaking be done deliberately and fully informs the constituents in the course of the lawmaking process.
The Legislative Procedures Act addresses this all-important issue: deliberative lawmaking. Below I analyze in detail the procedures and their relevance to the legislative process. What is self evident will not be commented uponThe text of the Act is in new times roman my comments and analysis are in Cambria. The Act is left justified while the comments are justified.
THE CITIZENS LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURES ACT
An Act establishing legislative procedures and a Citizens Trust to administer the legislative procedures herein on behalf of the Legislature of the People so that individual citizens can deliberatively exercise their legislative powers; and adding to the Federal Code.
Be It Enacted By The Citizens Of The United States:
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act.
The title and summary followed by Section1 emulate the format of bills in Congress.
Section 2. PREAMBLE
We, the People of the United States, inherently possess the sovereign authority and power to govern ourselves. We asserted this power in our Declaration of Independence and in the ratification of our Constitution. We, the People, choose to participate as lawmakers in all government jurisdictions.
THEREFORE, We, the People, sanction the election conducted by the Philadelphia II organization and establish the number of votes necessary to ratify the Citizens Amendment and enact the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act as the majority of votes cast in the most recent presidential election, permitting Citizens to exercise their lawmaking powers, concurrent with the legislative powers we delegate to our elected representatives in all government jurisdictions.
AND THEREFORE, We, the People, enact this Citizens Legislative Procedures Act, to provide for the administration of the “Legislature of the People.”
The preamble is an important legislative element in that it defines the goal of the legislation and summaries its major elements.
The Citizens Trust (hereinafter “Trust”) shall qualify proposed legislation chronologically, limiting one initiative per week for each government jurisdiction. The Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in implementing these procedures so as to facilitate as much as possible the citizens’ legislative role. The essential elements of the legislative process include, but are not limited to, the following:
In the Congress the leader in each house determines when and if legislation will be taken up; something very partisan and unfair. Under the Act’s procedures no such tyranny is possible in that all legislation when qualified will be taken up chronologically; An improvement over Congress. The amount of time a citizen will be able to vote on issues is twenty-four hours a day for one week. Voters can be any where in the world and vote via the Internet. This voting procedure discredits the canard that the People’s legislature will be flooded with thousands bills. Acting on legislation will be limited to 52 weeks no such flood can take place. Citizens will be able to vote at the same time on 52 national issues, 52 state issues and 52 local issues.
Only citizens of the United States who are natural persons registered to vote may introduce or sponsor legislation. The authors and sponsors shall be identified on the proposed legislation, on any qualifying petition, and on any qualifying poll. The Trust may grant special chronological consideration to legislation introduced by the President or by the directors of Philadelphia II.
Legislation shall comprise a Title, a Summary, a Preamble that states the subject and purposes of the legislation, and its complete text.
The legislation shall pertain to matters of public policy relevant to the government jurisdiction to which it is applicable. The Sponsors shall determine the wording of the Title and Summary subject to approval by the Trust.
An initiative shall address only one subject but may include related or mutually dependent parts.
E. Word Limit.
An initiative shall contain no more than five thousand words, exclusive of the Title, Preamble, Summary, references, definitions and language that quotes existing law.
Items D and E are subject to a great deal of abuse in Congress and in state legislatures. If you can pack several issues into one piece of legislation you have the opportunity to sneak into enactment bad stuff. The unlimited length of legislation, sometimes hundred of pages also offers the opportunity for corruption. The Patriot Act of 9/11 is a great example. The five thousand-word-limit is a reasonable length to explain a single subject. Correcting these legislative abuses guarantees greater transparency to the process.
Following approval of the Title and Summary by the Trust, the proposed legislation may qualify for election in the relevant government jurisdiction when the subject matter described in the title and summary is approved by forty percent of respondents in a public opinion poll. To qualify, the polling plan, including the number of respondents, the methodology and the entity that will conduct the poll, shall be approved in advance by the Trust.
The theory behind requiring a poll is to make sure that there is broad interest in the subject matter beyond that of the sponsors. The threshold is 40 percent of the constituency must be willing to address the subject. This has the effect of limiting self-serving and crazy legislation. Polling is sophisticated and accurate.
Once an initiative is qualified, the title, summary, preamble, text and the identity of its sponsors shall be published on an Internet website and in various mediums of communication. Additional information: the Hearing Record; the Deliberative Committee report; the result of the Legislative Advisory Vote; statements prepared by the Sponsors, other proponents and opponents; and a balanced analysis prepared by the Trust of the pros and cons of the initiative, including its costs and benefits and societal, environmental, and economic implications, shall be added to the publications on the legislation’s web page as this information becomes available. Here again the goal is total and continuous transparency.
The level of communications in the Legislative Procedures far exceeds that of Congress and state legislatures. Initially setting up a web site for each qualified proposed law provides a vehicle where the resulting steps in the legislative process are communicated to the public as they occur. Holding hearings on legislation is similar to that of all legislative bodies. In this case, however, the hearings will be compelled to be implement by the newest technology some of which has yet to be developed.
H. Public Hearing.
After an initiative qualifies for election, the Trust shall appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct a public hearing. Representatives of the initiative’s Sponsors and representatives of the legislative body of the relevant government jurisdiction shall participate in the hearing in accordance with policies and procedures established by the Trust. Testimony on the proposed law by proponents, opponents and experts shall be solicited, and their testimonies shall be published as the Hearing Record.
I. Deliberative Committee.
After the public hearings the Trust shall convene a Deliberative Committee demographically representing the government jurisdiction to review each initiative. The Deliberative Committee shall be drawn at random from a pool of citizens previously developed and maintained by the Trust. Each member of the Deliberative Committee shall be fairly compensated for time spent and expenses incurred in performance of Committee duties. The Trust shall provide technical support and such additional resources as are necessary for the effective discharge of the Committee’s duties. The Deliberative Committee shall review the Hearing Record, secure expert advice, deliberate the merits of the initiative, and prepare a written report of its deliberations and recommendations. By two-thirds vote, the Deliberative Committee may alter the Title, Summary, Preamble or text of the initiative, provided that the changes are consistent with the stated purposes of the initiative.
Existing legislatures operate under a committee system where proposed bills are referred after first reading (introduction). Committees give the legislation the needed scrutiny to determine if it is worthy of enactment after which it is referred to the full legislative body for a vote. This committee process to is vital to the deliberative process. It is not entirely replicable in the Legislature of the People. However, a Deliberative Committee is specifically designed to capture all of the elements of a committee system and then some.
J. Legislative Advisory Vote.
Each initiative, together with its Hearing Record and report of the Deliberative Committee, shall be transmitted to the legislative body of the relevant government jurisdiction. The legislative body shall conduct a public vote of its members, recording the yeas and nays on the initiative, within 90 days after receipt thereof. The vote of the legislative body is non-binding, serving only as an advisory to the citizens.
This vote is unique to the Legislature of the People. It is based on the fact that full time representatives in legislatures have special knowledge about the issues affecting their constituencies. That being the case it makes sense to avail ourselves of that knowledge via a public advisory vote on the proposed legislation under consideration. This is a mandatory requirement on government representatives and is the only area where the enactment of the Legislature of the People impinges on the independence of representative government’s legislative bodies. This information, published in the legislation web site, serves as an informative cue to the general public before a final vote is taken.
K. Promotional Communications.
Any communication, regardless of the medium through which conveyed, that promotes or opposes an initiative shall conspicuously identify the person(s) responsible for that communication, in a manner specified by the Trust.
L. Campaign Financing.
Only United States citizens may contribute funds, services or property in support of or in opposition to an initiative. Contributions from corporations including, but not limited to, such incorporated entities as industry groups, labor unions, political parties, political action committees, organized religious bodies and associations are specifically prohibited. Such entities are also prohibited from coercing or inducing employees, clients, customers, members, or any other associated persons to support or oppose an initiative. Violation of these prohibitions is a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison, or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
M. Financial Disclosure.
The Trust shall establish financial reporting requirements applicable to initiative sponsors, proponents and opponents. The Trust shall make all financial reports available to the public immediately upon its receipt thereof. Failure of sponsors, proponents or opponents to comply with these reporting requirements shall be a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
Upon completion of the Legislative Advisory Vote, or 90 days after the initiative has been delivered to the legislative body of the relevant government jurisdiction for an advisory vote, whichever occurs first, the Trust shall publish a schedule for the election of the proposed bill and shall conduct an election in accordance with the published schedule. The Trust shall conduct all initiative elections employing the most effective and secure technology. The Trust shall administer an election that is available to the constituency in question for twenty-four hours a day for seven days. The Trust shall make voting on proposed legislation as convenient as possible using the newest secure technology.
This election process is considerably superior to existing elections held by representative governments, which suffer from extensive voter suppression. After the enactment of the Citizens Amendment and the accompanying Act, the role of voters participating in the election conducted by the Philadelphia II shall be turned over to the Citizens Trust as a foundation of it to set up a process where every voter in the United States is registered for life. The Citizens Trust will conduct every initiative election at every level of government. This will require the national disbursements of Trust offices across the nation. I anticipate that this electoral process will be so efficient and fair that the public will clamor that the Trust conduct all elections for representative government.
An initiative that creates or modifies a constitution or charter becomes law when it is approved by more than one-half the registered voters of the relevant government jurisdiction in each of two successive elections. If the amendment is approved in the first election, a second ratification election shall occur no earlier than six months and no later than a year after the first election. An initiative that enacts, modifies or repeals a statute becomes the law when approved by more than half the registered voters of the relevant government jurisdiction who participate in the election.
P. Effective Date.
The effective date of an initiative, if not otherwise specified in the initiative, shall be forty-five days after certification of its enactment by the Trust.
Q. Judicial Review.
No court shall have the power to enjoin any election within the Legislature of the People except on grounds of fraud. After an initiative or proposed bill has been enacted into law, courts, when requested, may determine the constitutionality of the law.
The Sponsors of an initiative may withdraw an initiative from further consideration and processing at any time prior to a deadline established by the Trust.
The Citizens Trust shall administer the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act. A Board of Trustees and a Director shall govern the Trust. The Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in carrying out its mission. The activities of the Trust shall be transparent to the public.
The Trust shall impartially administer the Citizens Legislative Procedures Act, so as to facilitate the exercise of each citizen’s legislative role. The Trust shall ensure that citizens may file, qualify and vote on proposed legislation relevant to any government jurisdiction at any time and from any location. The Trust shall neither influence the outcome of any proposed legislation, nor alter the substance of any bill, except as specified in Section 3.I. The Trust may promulgate regulations to more fully meet its responsibilities under this Act.
B. Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall establish policies for and perform oversight of the Trust.
The Board of Trustees shall be composed of 30 members appointed for initial staggered terms by the board of directors of Philadelphia II.
2) Term of Office.
Members of the Board of Trustees shall serve a single six-year term except for those initially selected who will be divided into three classes serving two, four and six years respectively.
3) Removal Of Trustees.
Any member of the Board of Trustees shall be removed from office upon a three-fourths vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees.
The Board shall fill vacancies on the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall meet at least annually and at such other times and in such places, as it deems appropriate to conduct its business. All meetings of the Board shall be publicized in advance and open to the public, except as required by law. The Trust shall promptly publish the minutes and audiovisual recordings of all meetings of the Board, except as required by law.
The Director of the Trust is the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizens Trust and is responsible for its day-to-day management and operations, consistent with the policies of the Act and those established by the Board of Trustees.
1) Term of Office.
The Board of Director of Philadelphia II shall appoint the first Director. The Director shall serve for a term of six years and is limited to an additional six-year term. The Board of Trustees shall appoint all subsequent Directors.
2) Removal of Director.
The Director may be removed from office upon a two-thirds vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees.
A vacancy in the position of Director shall be filled by majority vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees.
D. Oath or Affirmation of Office.
Each Member of the Board of Trustees, the Director and each employee of the Trust shall execute the following oath or affirmation of office as a condition of his or her service: “I, (name), (swear or affirm) that there is no authority superior to the people and that I will, to the best of my ability, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the sovereign authority of the People to exercise their legislative power.”
E. Organization and Responsibilities.
The Trust shall organize itself to fulfill its mission and shall develop policies, procedures and regulations to register citizens for life as they become eligible to vote, to assist sponsors in preparing initiative bills for qualification, to process initiatives, and to administer initiative elections. The Trust may select and contract for facilities and services, hire staff, and prescribe their duties and compensation. The Trust may also apply for and receive funds, and incur debt when necessary, and shall act in a responsible manner as an independent fiduciary agency.
1) Existing Law.
In fulfilling its responsibilities and performing its duties, the Trust shall comply with applicable laws and regulations of every government jurisdiction of the United States in which it operates that do not conflict with its mission defined in Section 4 A. Where laws are in conflict, this Citizens Legislative Procedures Act shall supersede.
2) Voter Registration.
The Trust shall develop requirements, facilities and procedures for universal lifetime voter registration of citizens of the United States, which shall be binding in elections conducted under the authority of the Citizens Amendment and this Act, in every government jurisdiction in which a voter is, or may become, a legal resident.
3) Research and Drafting Service.
The Trust shall establish and operate a legislative research and drafting service to assist citizens in preparing proposed initiatives .
4) Deliberation Committees.
The Trust shall establish a pool of registered voters, in each government jurisdiction, qualified as having some level of civic knowledge, from which can be randomly drawn members for the Deliberative Committees that are convened for each proposed legislation. Selected pools should demographically represent the government jurisdiction and be equally divided between men and women.
The Trust shall establish the means, procedures, facilities and regulations to facilitate the communication of timely, comprehensive, balanced, and pertinent information on the subject matter of each bill. This information shall be conveyed to the citizens of the relevant government jurisdiction by electronic means and various media, including radio, television, print and the Internet.
6) Hearings and Deliberative Committees.
The Trust shall organize a Hearing to receive testimony and shall convene a Deliberative Committee to deliberate on each qualified initiative. The Trust shall provide or arrange for professional Hearing Officers and Deliberation Facilitators, technical consultants and support staff and facilities, as needed, for the effective conduct of Hearings and Deliberative Committee activities.
7) Election of Initiatives or proposed legislation.
The Trust shall devise and administer policies and procedures to conduct elections of initiatives. In doing so, it shall take advantage of contemporary technology in developing procedures for voting and validating votes. Elections shall be conducted twenty-four hours a day for seven days. All such policies and procedures shall be neutral with respect to the content and outcome of the election.
Budgets covering all elements of the Trust’s operations and activities shall be prepared and published consistent with government practices and the public nature of the Trust’s responsibilities.
The appropriation of funds is hereby authorized from the Treasury of the United States, pursuant to Article I, Section 9 (7) of the Constitution of the United States, to enable the Trust to organize itself and begin the performance of its duties. A sum equal to the annual appropriation for the operation of Congress shall be appropriated for the initial and annual operation of the Legislature of the People.
In the event that any of the provisions of this Act shall for any reason be held to be invalid as a result of judicial action, the remaining provisions of this Act shall be unimpaired.