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Cooper Announces Support for Bill to Make Congressional Research Available to Public

Press release from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. 05; January 14, 2015:

“Everyone should be able to read what Congress is reading”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today announced his support of a bipartisan bill that would allow the public to view Congressional research and agency reports.

The Public Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act would grant public access to taxpayer-funded research that, by law, is only available to members of Congress and their staffs. The legislation finally would let all Americans see the research Congress uses to draft bills, take votes and shape policy.

Cooper also co-sponsored the bill last Congress.

“Everyone should be able to read what Congress is reading,” Cooper said. “There’s a mountain of information that folks would find useful.”

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a division of the Library of Congress. CRS is staffed by policy experts who draft nonpartisan reports and analyses that are considered authoritative and objective on a range of topics.

As a dedicated Congressional support agency, CRS is joined by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in providing Congress with objective information and analysis. While GAO and CBO reports are already publicly available, CRS reports remain shielded from public view.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) are the bill’s lead sponsors. Numerous good-government groups and transparency watchdogs have endorsed their efforts, including the Sunlight Foundation, American Association of Law Libraries, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch), OpentheGovernment.org, Center for Responsive Politics, and Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

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Press Releases

Ramsey: Public Participation in Judicial Redistricting ‘Encouraging’

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; March 8, 2013:

(March 8, 2013, NASHVILLE) Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today praised both the general public as well as specific stakeholder groups for their participation in the open judicial redistricting process announced last month at a press conference at the State Capitol.

“The response we have gotten to our public call for judicial district maps is extremely encouraging,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “I would especially like to commend the Public Defenders Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association for coming to the table and sharing their ideas.”

Fourteen statewide judicial redistricting proposals were submitted in accordance with the guidelines posted online. Those who asked for extensions past the original March 1 deadline were given until March 8 to submit their map.

“While I’m disappointed that the leadership of the Trial Judges Association and the District Attorney’s General Association refused to consider any changes to the 1984 map, I’m very pleased that many individual members of those groups contacted us to offer their ideas and help,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Their individual input was helpful and appreciated.”

Tennessee currently has thirty-one judicial districts which determine the areas judges, district attorneys and public defenders serve. The last judicial redistricting occurred in 1984 — nearly thirty years ago.

“We came into this process with open minds and a desire to work with interested parties. The submitted maps have given us a lot of good ideas,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “I look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to create a map that takes into account both regional integrity and population growth to ensure Tennesseans receive the best possible service from their judges, district attorneys and public defenders.”

To be considered, submitted plans were required to use 2010 federal census data and redistrict the entire state. Regional integrity, geographic boundaries and ease of inter-county travel also had to be considered.

All maps submitted in accordance with the guideline and instructions on how to submit a judicial district plan are now available online at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/judredist/judredist.html.