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A member of the Assembly solicits voters on the “wiki” page to develop a bill

The State Assembly on Thursday passed a measure that is less notable for what it would do – change the probate code – than for the way it was designed: by the public, in a “wiki” page in line.

Assembly member Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) announced last winter that he was going to try an experiment: open the process of drafting bills to the public, the same way Wikipedia entries work. .

The result was a bill dealing with resources set aside for the care of pets after the death of their owners. The measure would allow the court to appoint a guardian to manage these funds.

“It’s not a burning question of the day, I’m the first to admit it,” Gatto said. “But I think the process is the burning question of the day.”

He said he “made a commitment to the public to present what they came up with.”

“Usually, the public perceives bills to be drafted by special interest groups in a smoky back room,” Gatto said. “But it was a bill that was drafted entirely on the Internet with maximum transparency, and anyone could participate as long as they had an Internet connection.”

By reducing the bill’s focus on the probate code, the measure was deliberately lackluster, designed to attract legal scholars instead of political ideologues.

Participants were able to make changes to the proposal from December to early March, when the measure was drafted into a bill and began to travel through the Assembly. Justin Hager, Gatto’s communications director, said the wiki page had at least 75 unique visitors, including a dozen active users.

One of the visitors was Tim Bonnemann, whose San Jose Intellitics company designs digital tools for civic engagement. Bonnemann, who observed the wiki collaboration but did not suggest policy changes, said crowdsourcing can be a “very exciting tool” for lawmakers, but Gatto’s first attempt had “room for improvement” .

Noting that the assembly member was “intentionally without interference” in guiding the proposal, Bonnemann said the process would benefit from “clearer documentation of what information was gathered, how it was interpreted, how they were introduced and the way they made their way through the sausage making process.

Still, Bonnemann said he was “quite excited to see someone actually exploring this possibility for a lawmaker or politician to engage with his constituents.”

Going forward, Gatto has said he wants to venture into topics that may gain more attention.

“A controversial bill would actually benefit the process because it would draw more attention to the fact that the bill was brought forward by the public,” he said.

Its current measure, AB 1520, has dropped from 72 to 0. It is now heading towards the Senate.

Also on Thursday, the Assembly definitively approved a bill that would grant an extension of workers’ compensation claims for families of firefighters and police officers who died of cancer, tuberculosis and certain other illnesses.

Under this measure, from President John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), families could file claims up to 420 weeks after the date of the injury and no more than a year after the date of death.

The bill, AB 1035, went from 72 to 1 and is now heading to the governor.

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