ACS16_facebookI’ve been listening to the sessions of the American Citizens Summit this week:

 

Day 3 was another full day of sessions with lots of great ideas and inspiration for transpartisan action. I love the examples of things that are already working somewhere in this country and that can be scaled up to work in other places.

Several people talked about Citizen Initiative Reviews. In Oregon, ballot initiatives are put through a rigorous process of review before a citizen jury who research the background, hear from advocates and experts, and write a statement that is sent to all registered voters. I’d really love to have that sort of statement for some of the things that show up on the ballot in Missouri. For example, we may see a cigarette tax increase on our November ballot. I’m always of two minds about “sin” taxes. They’re designed to decrease usage but the tax means that there’s now a public interest in increased usage to increase funds. I’d love to get a nuanced, researched sheet that helps me work through the complexity of an issue like that.

TheChiselAnother thing we learned about was The Chisel. The Chisel brings together people and organizations from across the political spectrum on issues. They establish a common ground of facts, historical context, etc. Then, the varying sides develop a proposal for some aspect of the issue that can be agreed on.

That’s when the fun starts — using modern technology The Chisel invites every citizen into the conversation to refine the proposal. When a majority of the people who participate in the process agree that the proposal is ready to move forward, it’s taken to law makers on both sides of the aisle as something that has already been vetted by stakeholders and voters.

In last night’s session of the American Citizens Summit, we learned about The Chisel’s work on campaign finance reform. Left-leaning US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and right-leaning Take Back Our Republic, were able to agree on one small thing that will make a difference — a tax credit for small campaign donations. With more campaign money coming from local constituents, the reasoning goes, politicians will pivot toward the citizens and be less influenced by big money donors. There’s a robust conversation on this issue going on at The Chisel.

There are several other proposals active at The Chisel including one that I have strong opinions about — farm subsidies (see my review of Food Fight by Daniel Imhoff).


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