National governments are increasingly dominated by political polarization, crisis management, and partisan gridlock, often rendering them unable to join forces to address common global challenges. In view of inaction at the federal level, subnational actors such as states, communities, and cities have often stepped up to fill this void left by traditional nation-states. This trend has also characterized transatlantic relations and the German-American partnership.
To explore collaboration at the state-level, the Aspen Institute Germany and the American Council on Germany have launched the virtual event series State-to-State: German-American State Legislator Dialogue. Together, it is our goal to provide a platform for subnational exchange and in-depth discussions amongst German and American state legislators on common transatlantic challenges with Assemblymember Marc Berman (D), California State Assembly; Daniel Karrais, MdL (FDP), State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg; and Katharina Schulze, MdL (Alliance 90/The Greens), State Parliament of Bavaria.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced politics to go virtual, accelerating the development of new digital formats in political communication, campaigning, party organization, legislative processes, and political participation. But even before COVID-19, digitalization efforts played a major role in the debate on how to strengthen democracy and the political discourse. The three state legislators will address both opportunities and challenges that come with an increasingly digitized democracy and share their own experiences and visions for a digital future.
Marc Berman was first elected to the California State Assembly in November 2016 to represent the 24th District, which includes southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. Marc serves as chair of the Committee on Elections and Redistricting, where he has become a leading voice on protecting voters from deceptive elections practices, making election information more accessible to voters, and improving election cybersecurity and campaign finance disclosure. In addition, for the past two legislative sessions, he has chaired two select committees, the Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California and the Select Committee on the Census.
Daniel Karrais has been a member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg since November 2018. He represents the FDP/DVP parliamentary group in the Committee for Domestic Affairs, Digitalization and Migration, the Committee for Environment, Climate and Energy, and the Committee for European and International Affairs. Prior, he worked as an advisor to another member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg and as a manager at NetCom BW amongst other positions. Since May 2019, Mr. Karrais has been a municipal council in Rottweil. From 2013 to 2019, he was deputy district chairman of the Free Democrats Rottweil and has been their district chairman since April 2019.
Katharina Schulze is among the youngest parliamentarians in Bavaria and the face of the Bavarian Greens. She wants to transform Bavaria into the first federal state with a gender balance in political offices and develop it into a state of ecological sustainability, digital opportunities and cosmopolitanism. She is Member of the State Parliament since October 2013 and Chairwoman of the Green Party Parliamentary Group since 2017. At the 2018 elections, while she was front-runner for the Greens, they received 17,6% of the votes. She is the Green Spokeswoman for Domestic Affairs and a Member of the Committee for Community Affairs, Domestic Security and Sport. Since November 2019 she is a member of the party executive committee on the federal level of Alliance 90/The Greens.