By Amy Stewart

A bill introduced by a Democratic lawmaker in California would bring entrepreneurs into state government in a bid to improve outreach and interaction with small businesses.

AB 1675 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) would create an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) program within the governor’s office of Business and Economic Development. At least 10 entrepreneurs could be appointed to state agencies, departments and commissions.

“AB 1675 will bring new innovative thinking to agencies and departments and remove government as the biggest obstacle entrepreneurs face in California,” said Calderon in a legislative analysis.

Each individual, who would serve on a volunteer basis, must be successful in their field and have developed a product and brought it to market. That person would facilitate meetings to educate small businesses about the programs their agency or department offers. He or she also would provide recommendations to the state about “inefficient or duplicative” programs, according to the bill.

The legislation is patterned after legislation in Virginia and Texas, according to the analysis. Virginia enacted legislation last month to create an EIR program.

In March, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced six startup companies will participate in a sixteen-week EIR program to explore solutions to civic challenges aimed at lowering costs, increasing revenue and enhancing productivity for city government.

“The Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program brings together government and startups to explore ways we can use technology to make government more accountable, efficient and responsive,” said Lee in a press release.

The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy is scheduled to consider AB 1675 on April 22.

In related legislation, AB 2138 by Assemblyman Gatto (D-Los Angeles) would establish a pilot project for 3 state agencies to design and implement innovation contests.   Each agency would award  $25,000 to individuals, who are not employed by the state, that contribute to the improvement of state agency operations.  The idea was inspired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s book Citizenville, according to a legislative analysis.