In what is being trumpeted as "the first purely crowdsourced piece of legislation in the United States," L.A. state Assemblyman Mike Gatto is inviting you, the average citizen, to help draft a new law.
He has turned to Wikispaces to let anyone -- anyone! -- weigh in on this proposal, and the lawmaker has vowed to introduce the final product in the legislature no matter what he ends up with.
But before you start jumping around and saying, Legalize it!, an idea that would surely dominate this exercise, there is a caveat:
Gatto has limited this experiment to probate law, the regulation that covers the wills and estates of the dead and how this wealth gets transferred.
This is why, his office states:
To narrow down the submissions in this first trial of the process, Gatto is asking bill drafters to focus their proposals on changes to the California probate code. This subject matter was selected because it is one where large numbers of specialists exist with an interest in participating (lawyers, CPAs, etc.), but also, since almost everyone has had some experience in handling the death of a loved one, large numbers of the public are also likely to have an opinion on how California's relevant laws could be improved.
So there you have it. Not as fun. But just as experimental. For example, you could try to change the law regarding who gets a decedent's property when there's no will.
But Gatto has warned folks who might get excited by the process that coming up with a proposal, no matter how just or far out, would only be the first step.
The bill would have to be green-lighted by numerous committees, both houses of the legislature, and Gov. Jerry Brown. That's an uphill battle even for no-brainer proposals like extending California's last-call-for-alcohol time beyond 2 a.m.
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The lawmaker says:
This is a great way for people to have a voice in their government Too often, special-interest groups draft legislation. 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 choose the final product.
The collective wisdom of the public? Be careful what you wish for.