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Sen. Hill Announces 2014 'Oughta Be a Law' Contest

Your ideas for reforms and improvements could become reality! Submissions due Jan. 15.

State Senator Jerry Hill and 2013 “Oughta Be a Law … Or Not” contest winner Dan Hilberman chat before recognition ceremony on Oct. 11 in Menlo Park. Photo courtesy of Senator Hill, who provided Hilberman with a copy of the law he inspired.
State Senator Jerry Hill and 2013 “Oughta Be a Law … Or Not” contest winner Dan Hilberman chat before recognition ceremony on Oct. 11 in Menlo Park. Photo courtesy of Senator Hill, who provided Hilberman with a copy of the law he inspired.
Entries are being accepted for Senator Jerry Hill’s sixth annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” contest for bill ideas from constituents.

Hill, D - San Mateo County/Santa Clara County, announced the 2014 bill idea contest last week and encourages Peninsula and Silicon Valley residents to participate.

“This is a terrific opportunity for constituents to participate in our democracy and learn firsthand about the legislative process,” Hill said. “Past winners have traveled to Sacramento to testify in committee, and their proposals have been signed into law.”

The contest is open to all constituents of the 13th Senate District and allows residents to submit their ideas for improving the quality of life in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County or the state of California.

Ideas can vary from local community improvements to statewide reforms. Applicants can submit their ideas for the creation of a new law -- or the repeal or revision of laws already on the books.

Several entries have already been submitted to Hill’s office for the 2014 contest. The senator will select a winner, then introduce the idea as legislation.

The person who submits the winning idea will have the opportunity to testify in Sacramento at hearings on the legislation.

Applications can be obtained by calling Senator Hill’s District office at 650-212-3313 or from his website at http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/submit-bill-idea

Completed applications may be emailed to Senator.Hill@senate.ca.gov, faxed to the District Office at 650-212-3320 or mailed to the District Office at 1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 303, San Mateo, CA 94402.

Submissions must be received by Jan. 15, 2014.

The deadline to introduce bills for the 2014 legislative session is Feb. 21.

The 13th Senate District includes the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Woodside and parts of unincorporated San Mateo County and unincorporated Santa Clara County.

Past winners include:

2013 – Senate Bill 589 Menlo Park resident Dan Hilberman submitted the bill idea that inspired legislation enabling individuals who vote by mail to confirm that their ballots were counted.

“I’ve voted by mail for over a decade, but do not know if my vote counts because the registrar does not acknowledge my vote,” Hilberman wrote in offering his idea.

SB 589 creates a “free access” system and provides county registrars with flexibility to determine how they want to comply with the legislation: They may notify voters on a walk-in basis, over the phone, or online.

“The 2012 general election was the first time a majority of voters in California cast their ballots by mail,” said Hill. “As more voters chose this option, it’s critical that they be able to confirm their vote was counted.”

Governor Brown signed SB 589 on Sept. 9. The law takes effect on Jan. 1.

2012 – Assembly Bill 2309 Corey Geiger and Alan Talansky submitted the 2012 winning idea, which was to create a pilot program linking the state’s community colleges with local chambers of commerce to promote business development and job creation.

AB 2309 would have boosted business development by helping early stage business ventures with new ideas to either find funding or to reach the point of operating stability. The idea for a competitive grant program was intended to also recruit and coordinate businesses and investors from local communities to provide funding, sponsorship and internships.

The bill passed the legislature with bipartisan support, but was vetoed by Governor Brown.

2011 – Assembly Bill 459 The constituent who won the 2011 contest asked to remain anonymous. The idea implemented the National Popular Vote for President, which reforms the Electoral College so that it guarantees the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide.

All of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a president (270 of 538).

The bill has passed 30 legislative chambers in 20 states and is supported by more than 70 percent of people nationwide. The measure was signed by Governor Brown.

2010 – Assembly Bill 2654 The brainchild of Stan Fetterman of Millbrae, Assembly Bill 2654 would require firms that send solicitation letters appearing to be on behalf of government agencies to include a disclaimer atop the first page stating: "This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency."

Fetterman proposed the law after noticing that a property management firm that employs him had received a pile of official-sounding letters that, in one instance, demanded companies make a $225 payment to fulfill a supposed state requirement, which was bogus.

Under the bill, these letters would be required to include the disclaimer and violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. The measure passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor in 2010. The bill was reintroduced as AB 75 in 2011 and was signed by Governor Brown.

 2009 – Assembly Bill 1379 Eda Cook of Half Moon Bay and Scott Buschman of San Bruno were named co-winners of the 2009 contest for their proposals addressing the problem of spilled debris from trucks on highways and roads.

The bill increased the base fine for spilling debris from commercial trucks. According to the California Highway Patrol, since 2003 there were over 7,000 collisions caused by spilled loads in California resulting in 10 fatalities. The measure passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor.

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