Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Assemblyman wants public to take DIY approach to drafting a bill

Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) wants the public to draft a law about the probate process using a new wiki-style site on the Internet.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto has promised to introduce in the California State Legislature whatever bill the public collectively drafts using a wiki — an editing platform that allows people to contribute and edit content in a shared online space.

Gatto says it'll be the nation's first crowd-sourced bill-by-wiki, using the same interface that built Wikipedia, the popular online knowledge repository. The public can submit the text of a proposed law, others in the public can augment it, and fact-check it online.

To keep the ideas focused on something that could eventually become law, Gatto's limiting the topic to changes in probate law. He said most people who have had a death in the family and gone through the probate process would have the most constructive ideas for improvement.

Gatto's staff decided on the probate topic months before his father's recent death by shooting in what appeared to be a home invasion. "It's a very unfortunate coincidence," Gatto said.

He wanted a topic that would be general, and his staff had considered other areas of law such as foster care or taxes. They decided to stay away from more emotional issues, such as gun control, he said.

Gatto said he is committed to submitting the eventual consensus bill to the legislative process. Crowdsourcing a bill would give the public real-world experience in drafting laws and help to offset the impact of lobbyists and special interests.

The wiki platform augments three other methods the public uses for proposing legislation, those being online petitions, the costly initiative process, and "There ought to be a law" contests.

AUDIO: KPCC's Nick Roman talks to Assemblyman Mike Gatto about his "Wiki bill."


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