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Bill drafted by public crowdsourcing passes the Assembly

Laws and LegislationMike GattoWikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Legislation drafted by the public on online "wiki" page has passed the California Assembly

A measure approved by the Assembly on Thursday is notable not for what it does -- tweak the probate code -- but for how it was crafted: by the public using an online "wiki" page.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) announced last winter that he was going to try an experiment: open the bill-writing process to the public, just as they would edit an online Wikipedia entry.

The result was his "wiki-bill," which deals with people who have set aside some of their estate to care for their pets after they have died. The bill allows the court to appoint a guardian to manage those funds.

Gatto acknowledged that it's not the most scintillating topic, but said he "committed to the public I would introduce what they came up with."

"This is an issue I don’t know much about -- it’s not a burning issue of the day, I’m the first to admit it, but I think the process is the burning issue of the day," he said in an interview.

"Typically the public perceives that bills are drafted by special-interest groups in a smoke-filled backroom. But this was a bill that was drafted entirely on the Internet with maximum transparency, and anybody could participate as long as they had an Internet connection."

By narrowing the bill's focus to the probate code, the measure was kept deliberately dull, designed to attract legal specialists instead of political ideologues.

Next time, Gatto said, he wants to venture into topics that can attract more attention.

"A controversial bill would actually benefit the process because it would draw more attention to the fact that the bill had been proposed by the public," he said.

The measure, AB 1520, passed on a 72-0 vote. It now heads to the Senate.

Also on Thursday, the Assembly gave final clearance to a bill that grants an extension for workers' compensation claims for families of deceased firefighters and police officers who died as a result of cancer, tuberculosis and certain other diseases.

Under the measure, by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), families can file claims up to 420 weeks after the date of injury, but no more than one year after the date of death.

The bill, AB 1035, passed 72-1 and now heads to the governor.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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