From Startups Across America (A Bit of Civic Hacktivism)

Updated to include names of those who have voiced support.

Back in July I connected with the well-known Seattle-based startup lawyer, Joe Wallin through a legal hacking crowdfunding event organized by our local legal innovation MeetUp group.

I was really exited to meet Joe because the the story of how he basically wrote the Washington crowdfunding statute is a classic example of legal and civic hacking:
Seeing the rise of crowdfunding legislation at the federal level in the JOBS Act, Joe drafted and posted on his blog some proposed crowdfunding legislation for Washington state. Coincidentally, at around the same time, Joe met another attorney, and state legislator, Cyrus Habib  at a coffee shop, and they struck up a friendship.
Later, Cyrus, the vice chair of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, invited Joe to testify before a working sessions of the Committee about how to make Washington State a better place to do business. Joe arrived with the bill he had written.
A number of legislators liked the idea and sponsored an equity crowdfunding bill in the 2013 legislative session. The bill came too late in the 2013 legislative sessions, but Cyrus and others worked with legislative staff and the Department of Financial Institutions between the 2013 and 2014 session to get the bill ready for the 2014 session. The bill passed in 2014 and the Governor signed it.
So, when, at the end of our July meeting, Joe proposed that he and I collaborate on a project to draft a letter to congress that would encourage our nation’s senators and congressional delegates to take some specific action and facilitate both state and national crowdfunding, I was sold.
What began as a project on crowdfunding has morphed into an advocacy letter on startups generally and how congress can help entrepreneurs to found, build, grow, and scale their startup ventures. And, the truth is there are some simple and pretty powerful things that congress could do to make life easy for the nation’s innovators and entrepreneurs: things like clarifying crowdfunding restrictions and rules on general solicitation, easing tax rules to allow startups to provide equity to employees, and others you can see in the letter here, on Scribd.
But, now, we need your help.
  1. Using this link you can input your address and identify your senators and your congressional delegate.
  2. Once you get the results page, click on the “contact form” link for a link to the contact page of each senator or congressional delegate.
  3. On each of those pages, enter in the relevant information, put “From Startups Across America” in the “Subject” line and paste a copy the message below as well as a link to the letter that we’ve included below.
  4. Note that you’ll have to do this for at least three people – both your senators and your congressional delegate.
  5. Then, join the movement! Add a comment here on the blog, hit up Joe or me on Twitter (@joewallin/@rightbrainlaw), or contact us another way and let us know that you’ve shared the message with your representatives. We’ll add your name to the list of those who are behind sensible and proactive legislation to incubate and promote innovation and entrepreneurship both locally and nationally!
With enough momentum, we can make a difference!
Dan and Joe
The letter is here on Scribd and a link to it is included below.
To My Senator/Congressional Delegate,
I am writing to encourage you to support small businesses and entrepreneurship and work to implement the proposals suggested in this letter:
Small businesses and startups are the engines of job growth in America and they need your support.


Thank You!List of those who have joined the movement:

Kiffanie Stahle – Attorney, Oakland, CA
Josh Maher – Angel Investor, Seattle, WA
Dan Lear – Director of Industry Relations, Avvo, Inc, Seattle, WA
Joe Wallin – Partner, Davis, Wright Tremaine, Seattle, WA
Brian Fischer – Capsity, Sacramento, CA

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