There Oughta Be a Law…Or Not

Welcome to my "Oughta Be A Law...Or Not" constituent bill idea contest for 2014. 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 our community and/or the state of California. Ideas can vary from local community improvements to statewide reforms. Applicants can create new laws or repeal / revise laws already on the books. I will select a winner in February and work toward implementing the reform during the legislative session. Applications can be submitted online and are due by January 15, 2014.

Click here for an application (Word document)

Click here for an application (PDF)

Here's an overview of past winners:

2009 – Assembly Bill 1379

Eda Cook of Half Moon Bay and Scott Buschman of San Bruno were awarded 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 on roads and highways. 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.

2010 – Assembly Bill 2654

The brainchild of Stan Fetterman of Millbrae, Assembly Bill 2654 would require firms that send out solicitation letters that appear 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 bogus state requirement. 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 vetoed by the Governor in 2010. The bill was reintroduced as AB 75 in 2011 and was signed by Governor Brown.

2011 – Assembly Bill 459

The constituent who won the 2011 contest asked to remain anonymous. Their idea implements 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.

2012 – Assembly Bill 2309

Corey Geiger and Alan Talansky submitted the 2012 winner, which created a pilot program to link 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 competitive grant program is designed 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. 

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 by notifying 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 September 9, 2013. The law takes effect on January 1, 2014.