Tuesday, January 7, 2014

California lawmaker asks constituents to write America's first wiki-bill

Photo by Johann Dreo/Flickr

California lawmaker asks constituents to write America's first wiki-bill

By Aaron Sankin

Politicians always pledge to listen to their constituents when drafting new bills. Most of the time, these promises manifest themselves by nodding politely when voters lecture them at town halls and then introducing whatever legislation powerful corporate lobbyists write for them.

But one Golden State lawmaker is taking the idea of accountability to a new extreme. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) has introduced a Wikipedia-esque website where his constituents can literally work together to write a bill that he will then submit for passage.

Using Gatto’s online legislative wiki, users can add to or remove text from the bill in question. The changes can be made anonymously; however, there is a section where participants can identify themselves by name and add a short bio.

The fist bill under consideration using this system is aimed at reforming California’s inheritance laws, specifically with regard to passing on trust funds from one generation to another.

“This is the first purely crowd-sourced piece of legislation in the United States. We have advocated for using technology as a tool for citizen engagement,” Gatto told the Los Angeles Times, noting that he hoped the ability for anyone with Internet access work on the bill would prevent special interests from taking over. ‟We have the same checks and balances as Wikipedia itself. The whole idea is it’s designed to be self-policing.”

“We’ve encountered people in various settings who want to contribute to the process. They haven’t had as much access because they might not have a lobbyist,” Gatto spokesperson Justin Hager told the Glendale News-Press. ‟If you have ideas, we want to hear them and give people the power to make a difference.”

In a press release, Gatto explained that he selected this area of the law as the test case for his wiki legislation project because it strikes a balance between having a lot of experts like lawyers and CPAs who could contribute, but also could engender a good bit of interest from the general public since virtually everyone has had to deal with some legal issue relating to the death of a family member...

You can read this entire article and more at the Daily Dot HERE

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Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La CaƱada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.  www.asm.ca.gov/gatto 

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