Iowa SenateIn the Iowa Senate legislation was filed last week that took a step toward greater government accountability by making the lawmaking process more transparent to Iowans. The first bill requires a statement of Constitutional authority on all legislation filed by the General Assembly, while a complementary bill charges legislators with providing a statement of legislative intent in bills creating or expanding a program. Filing this legislation reminds all legislators of their duty to serve Iowans as the fiscal watchdog over the state budget and to reign in over-reaching government.

The Bill of Rights of the Iowa Constitution states “all political power is inherent in the people.” The current burdensome regulations, lack of tax relief, and reckless spending indicate many legislators have forgotten this important tenant of representative government. Requiring statements of Constitutional authority returns power to the people of Iowa by holding legislators accountable to the document from which they derive their representative power.

Greater accountability to Iowans will also occur when legislators are charged with providing statements of legislative intent in bills creating or expanding programs. Currently, if the language of a statue is unclear the courts are left to guess the intended consequences and goals of the legislation, often leading to far-reaching assumptions. Providing clear parameters and outlines for new or expanding programs sheds light on the lawmaking process, provides efficiencies, and enables a more representative government for Iowans.

I support providing greater transparency. Requiring statements of Constitutional authority and legislative intent ensures legislators work within the parameters outlined for them by Iowans in the Constitution, and legislation is implemented with the spirit with which it was passed.

Photo Credit: Sarah Brooks

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