Gatto’s Good Idea No Replacement for Direct Democracy

Wed, Dec 18 2013 by Neal Hobson

The ballot initiative process in California has been popular with citizens since its inception in 1911. However, the state legislature, especially its current Democratic super-majority, has had a far less sunny view of the prospect of the people trumping legislative power through the initiative.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), author in recent years of numerous bills to undercut the power of the initiative, recently proposed a new tactic in formulating legislation: using “crowdsourcing” techniques.  This would enable citizens to use a wiki-style website to propose ideas for a bill, and Gatto’s first such crowdsourced bill would deal with probate taxes.

This is an interesting and positive way to get citizens more involved in the crafting of legislation. What a great idea. Though, obviously the suggestions citizens would put forth on the wiki site are as likely to be heeded as not.

But since Rep. Gatto is no friend of the initiative process, let’s make clear that occasional “input” by citizens in crafting legislation, which will ultimately be written by Gatto or other legislators, is NOT a substitute for initiative and referendum. 

“If we were to diminish initiative power, there’s the question of what would you replace it with to ensure citizen participation,” Gatto told the Los Angeles Times. “What if every legislator committed to doing one bill like this? The public will feel like they have taken back their government.”

From the mouths of politicians … 

Is Gatto’s effort really about finding an excuse to attack I&R rights?  While giving people a better way to participate in the legislative process is to be commended and supported, Gatto’s idea that this might provide the impetus to “diminish initiative power” – as Gatto has long desired – is a complete non-starter. Though, it does demonstrate where his head’s at.

Los Angeles Times: Assemblyman Mike Gatto to use ‘crowdsourcing’ to craft new bill,0,5308462.story#ixzz2nkpbrXWV