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Improving legislation

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

On March 9, 2010, prior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

What an indictment of the legislative process of an incompetent Congress. The bill was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama who, based on his assertions that you can keep your doctors and health plan if you liked them, didn’t know what was in it either.

The solution to this problem is so simple that I’m surprised that it has not been instituted already. Before any legislation is signed into law by the executive branch, the government (federal, state, local) publishes the legislation for public purview and then sponsors a "Find-the-Loophole" contest with monetary cash awards for the first person to find a given, unique loophole, unintended consequence or sneaky way to violate the spirit of the law without violating the letter of the law.

A cash reward of, say, $50,000, would cause people to quickly go through the legislation with a fine-toothed comb in order to be the first to submit. Then the legislature can close the loopholes, perhaps reworking it to avoid the unintended consequences, and we, the public, end up with the best legislation possible.

After a few years, I would bet the legislature would turn out finely crafted laws just to cut down on the cash contest awards.

David Thiessen


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