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Open Government

Sanders pledges release of tax returns

Bernie Sanders is a millionaire.

To celebrate, the Vermont senator says he plans to release 10 years' worth of tax returns by Monday, which just so happens to be Tax Day. Sanders, who officially announced his second run for the Democratic presidential nod last month and had been slow to release his most recent returns in 2016, goaded President Donald Trump to follow his lead.

"On the day in the very immediate future, certainly before April 15, we release ours, I hope that Donald Trump will do exactly the same," Sanders told The New York Times.

The Democrats' showcase legislation, HR 1, would require presidents, vice presidents and the major-party nominees for those offices to release 10 years' worth of tax returns.

Other 2020 Democratic hopefuls who have released either 2018 tax returns, or at least a decade of previous returns, include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as well as Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

Naturalized citizens living in Mississippi must prove their citizenship when they register to vote, unlike those born in the United States. Above, members of the military are sworn in as U.S. citizens at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Mississippi voting rules are biased against naturalized citizens, lawsuit alleges

The latest effort to ease restrictions on voting through litigation is a challenge to Mississippi's requirement that naturalized citizens show proof of their citizenship when they register.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says the law is unconstitutional because it violates of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by treating one category of citizens differently from another. People born in the United States need only check a box on the state's registration form attesting they are citizens.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which helped bring the suit, says Mississippi is the only state with a unique mandate for would-be voters who were not born American citizens.

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Congress
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Committee on the Modernization of Congress

"Members are clearly concerned for the future of Congress. These are not partisan or political concerns," writes Mark Strand.

Now that the House’s modernization panel is extended, it has a lot more work to do

Strand is president of the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit that seeks to help members of Congress better serve their constituents and their constituents better understand Congress. He testified before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in March.

As the House of Representatives marches toward a partisan impeachment, the American public can be forgiven for missing a bright spot of productive bipartisanship: the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. After an encouraging year of bipartisan committee work, the House voted last week to extend the panel for a year.

This committee has made 29 unanimous recommendations to improve technology, transparency, accessibility and constituent engagement as well as provide better support for staff. Twenty-nine unanimous recommendations. And these aren't boiler plate measures like "The House should have more transparency." They are well thought-out solutions that can be taken up by committees of jurisdiction, such as allowing new members to hire a transition staffer, promoting civility during new-member orientation, streamlining bill writing and finalizing a system to easily track how amendments would alter legislation and impact current law.

The committee's members wanted to be part of this work. They understand how important it is for the House to catch up with modern times. There's still a lot of work to do, though, which is why it's great they will be able to continue through the end of 2020.

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