First-of-its-Kind Bill Prepares for the Next Step in the Legislative Process
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) announced that he is taking the next step in introducing the nation’s first ever “wiki bill” today, encouraging interested individuals to finalize and submit their proposed legislative language to amend California’s Probate Code by March 7, 2014. The Probate Code covers matters such as wills, trusts, and intestacy.
In December, Gatto announced the groundbreaking opportunity to allow individual citizens to draft a piece of legislation directly via an online Wiki. Citizens can visit the “wiki bill’s” website, and by using an interface similar to Wikipedia’s, they can propose, draft, and edit a bill, which the Assemblyman has committed to introducing.
Assemblyman Gatto has advocated for using technology as a tool for citizen engagement. “This is a great way for people to have a voice in their government,” said Gatto. “Too often, special-interest groups draft legislation behind closed doors, keeping the public in the dark. In contrast, ‘crowdsourcing’ a bill on the Wiki platform will allow for a fully transparent brainstorming, drafting, and editing process that will incorporate ideas from a large group of people. The collective wisdom of the public will decide the final bill.”
The effort is designed to perfect other citizen-participation mechanisms that are flawed. For example, thePetitions.WhiteHouse.Gov site allows citizens to propose broad concepts, but has no teeth, in that the public cannot directly draft legislative text, and there is no commitment by the government to act. On the other side of the spectrum, many reformers (including Assemblyman Gatto) believe that California’s Ballot Initiative process is too strong, because inflexible initiatives can tie the hands of elected officials in perpetuity. Gatto’s “wiki bill” addresses both of these concerns by allowing the public to draft specific language, which will then be publically vetted in the legislative committee process.
“There has been an overwhelming level of participation in this project,” said Gatto. “Dozens of people have engaged in thoughtful conversations about the California probate process, and how to make it better. I look forward to watching those conversations transform into actual draft legislation in the near future.”
Those interested in participating should visit www.MikeGatto.wikispaces.com. Once there, users can see what other people have proposed, introduce bill text themselves, edit what others have created, and view the history of the entire process — just like a Wikipedia entry.