So here is a process I have developed which pulls ideas from consensus based democratic work which will allow for a more open legislative process and more citizen participation. The most free and advanced countries in the world, such as the Nordic States have a consensus based democratic government.
Why a consensus based process you ask?
Well, a majoritarian based process like we have in the US and most of the rest of the world creates party based politics, divisiveness, grabs for power regardless of cost so they can control the process, and suppression of minority voices which I talk about at length in this post: Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System. Where the winner takes all for legislation, we all lose. =(
Consensus based democratic governments tend to be more cooperative, tend to eschew parties and party politics, tend to be more representative of the people, as well as respect and take into consideration minority voices due to the consensus based voting – all agree or nothing. When fine tuned this process may move at a similar rate as a majoritarian based process. A consensus based democratic legislative process will more accurately embody the ideals of equality and openness.
So, here is a loose process based on my micronational work adapted for more general audience. This was written primarily with the national level in mind, but is easy enough to adapt to local governmental levels.
Legislative Bills or “Bills” are legal instruments used to create or modify the laws and policies. The primary burden of legislative bill creation falls on lawmakers and their committees, although others may have a hand in the initial drafting of bills.
General Legislative Bills (GLB)
The most common type of legislative bill is a General Legislative Bill (GLB or ‘G’ Bill) which is used by the government to pass laws.
Overview of the Legislative Bill Creation and Approval Process
- Draft the Issue Definition Document (IDD)
- Citizen Vote
- Sponsors for Legislative Bills
- Collaborative Space Created
- Collaborative Bill Drafting
- Translation Bill
- Review Period
- Lawmaker Discussion
- Lawmaker Vote
- Final Vote
- Bill Settling Period
1. Draft the Issue Definition Document (IDD)
Before we can tackle solving an issue or writing legislation we need to have a clear idea of what it is we are trying to accomplish. Issue Definitions will most likely be initially created by lawmakers as a normal part of their operations, although they may also be created and approved either by citizens or other organizations through a process defined by law. Citizens should have access to the same tools that the Government has for this process and it should always be a public and open process, and should be available for public comment. Each IDD should concentrate on 1 issue only.
Crowdsourcing this process increases citizen participation and democratic value from a governmental process which is not insulated from the populace, and allows for a greater perspective on the problem and potential solutions.
1. Define issue
- State the issue you want to work with
- Define why this issue is a problem and why you want to write a bill for this issue:
- Scope and Intent
- Rate issue’s impact on Citizens
- Issue Problems
- State problems that the issue causes
- Problem mapping:
- List all of the symptoms and try to figure out the root causes of these problems.
- Map symptoms to root causes. We would rather solve root causes and not waste our time putting a bandaid on a symptom.
- Rate the individual symptoms and root causes’s impact on Citizens.
2. Define Solution
- Desired Solution type:
- Research or data
- Define goal of solution
- Solution mapping
- List possible solutions in terms of solving symptoms/root causes and type of solution
- Rate solutions according to how well it solves the problem or aspects of the problem
- Rate solutions vs impact on Citizens
- List benefits and problems with each solution
- Create final solution which meets all solution criteria for solving root causes
- Rate solution impact on Citizens
3. Approve IDD and Submit to Database
Once the IDD is approved by consensus then it may be submitted the IDD database.
4. Translate IDD
Now it will be required to be translated into the various languages used by locals and the people as much as is practicable so that all may have access to it. Once this has been done it may be available for public vote and potential consideration by lawmakers.
2. Citizen Vote
Periodically the citizens within the scope of the law should receive a list of completed Issue Definitions for them to vote upon to see which ones are most valued by the people, to act as a guide for the lawmaker’s upcoming legislative session.
3. Sponsors for Legislative Bills
Lawmakers maybe sponsors for Legislative Bills
4. Collaborative Space Creation
A collaborative space must be created to start the initial drafting of the of bill. Bill drafting must be open to the public so they can see the drafting process and potentially comment as well. It should also have revision tracking so that the evolution of the bill can be tracked.
5. Collaborative Bill Drafting
Bills should be drafted in a collaborative manner such as through a wiki page or Google Docs, or other similar technology so lawmakers and its committees and advisers may work on it together, and so the process, comments, and text may be managed, and archived, and made available to the public.
Lawmakers and their legal teams will usually do most of the drafting since most bills will be sponsored from by the lawmakers themselves. Once the bill is finished by achieving consensus approval by the drafting parties it may move on.
Parts of Legislative Bill
Here are the required parts of a legislative bill:
- Link to Issue Definition Document
- Link to Collaborative bill drafting space and text
- Name of bill’s sponsor(s)
- List of bill’s drafting authors
- Executive Summary
- Scope and Intent
- Text of law to be voted upon<
- Notes from bill’s authors
- Supporting documents, data, and text
6. Bill Translation
All legislative bills will be required to be translated into the various languages used by the local people as much as is practicable.
7. Review Period
Prior to a vote on each bill a waiting period must be enacted that will allow all lawmakers a chance to receive the bill and read it. The Review Period will most likely be an equation based on word count and also accounting for the fact that some lawmakers through the various levels of government are not full time government officials.
8. Lawmaker Discussion
Once the review period has ended then Parliament may begin the discussion phase to discuss the merits of the bill.
9. Lawmaker Vote
General Legislative Bills are approved through a majority vote. Any lawmaker who will vote on a bill must have read the bill in its entirety and must sign as such in order to submit their vote. If lawmakers are voting on something that they know nothing about then they cannot not in good conscience cast an educated vote, nor accurately represent their constituency.
10. Final Approval
The final vote(s), if any, to approve or disapprove the bill (Congressman, President etc).
11. Bill Settling Period
After a at least a 30 day settling period has passed, the bill is considered to be passed and in full effect. This may also give the public some time to organize and respond. This period may be extended if convenient for the citizens or if the bill is quite contentious.