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Washington State lawmaker introduces John Oliver-inspired legislation

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It looks like we weren’t the only ones who noticed when John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight harangue encouraged outraged citizens to flood the FCC with comments last summer, crashing its system. Washington State Senator Cyrus Habib noticed it as well—presumably from reading The A.V. Club—and was inspired to introduce a bill allowing state residents to testify about proposed legislation via the Internet.

The Daily Dot reports that S.B. 5267 would expand the options for legislative participation, as described in the bill:

“It is the intent of the legislature to establish processes to allow the public to provide testimony on pending legislation through prerecorded videos and written statements in an effort to provide additional access to the legislative process and opportunities for the public to provide testimony on legislation.”


If you read this and thought, “Hmmm, it sounds like this law is actively encouraging people to fire up Final Cut Pro, film and edit together their own John Oliver-style harangues, and make them available to Washington State legislators on the taxpayer’s dime,” then you are buying what State Senator Cyrus Habib is selling. Or, as Habib puts it, “Here’s a guy who likes to take boring topics and make them interesting. If you can do that for an administrative process like the FCC on net neutrality, imagine the level of interest in issues people are even more familiar with at the state level.”

Habib hopes that this would encourage citizens who want to make their voices heard, but don’t necessarily know how to go about doing that. And if there’s one thing that’s not happening enough on the Internet, it’s people weighing in with extremely streamlined thoughts on deeply complicated issues. Perhaps this could encourage a whole host of new legislation designed to get all those shy online denizens to finally speak up:

  • A bill inserting a giant flashing arrow next to the comments section beneath any news story, accompanied by a pop-up dialogue box that reads, “WHAT, DON’T YOU HAVE AN OPINION, DUMMY?”
  • Federal funding to permanently install Snapchat in the upper corner of every elected official’s browser window, programmed to auto-play as soon as a concerned taxpayer sends them a picture or video
  • A “Find/Replace” feature atop every proposed law, accessible to anyone with a computer
  • New congressional subcommittees established to ensure that, whenever juries read guilty verdicts, online broadcasts allow viewers the option to make a holographic Tupac Shakur appear in the courtroom and utter Al Pacino’s famous “This whole court is out of order!” line from …And Justice For All