Senator Hill Opens 8th Annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” Bill Idea Contest

South San Francisco, CA               November 30, 2015                 Submitted by Senator Jerry Hill

Constituents Invited to Submit Proposals by January 15

Have a terrific idea for a much-needed new state law? Or maybe there’s a real turkey that you think should be off the books? State Senator Jerry Hill today announced the opening of his eighth annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” contest for bill ideas from constituents, and encouraged Peninsula and Silicon Valley residents to participate.


“Here’s a great opportunity for constituents to share their outstanding ideas and get a firsthand look at democracy in action,” said Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. “We’ve had strong legislative successes with the ‘Oughta Be A Law…Or Not’ contest thanks to the many constituents who participate. This is an excellent way to help bring about positive change in California.”


Past winners have testified on behalf of their bill idea in Assembly or Senate committees during the legislative process, and many have also had their bill ideas 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, Santa Clara County and 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.


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


Completed applications may be emailed to, faxed to his 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 January 15, 2016. The deadline to introduce bills for the 2016 legislative year is February 19.


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:


2015 Senate Bill 598
The all-volunteer La Honda Fire Brigade in San Mateo County won the seventh annual “Oughta Be A Law…or Not” contest with its idea to exempt California’s roughly 250 all-volunteer fire departments from sales tax liability on fundraising activities. Unlike other nonprofits, these departments had to pay sales tax for fundraising activities like pancake breakfasts, barbecues and T-shirt sales, which ate into the money raised to pay for firefighting and lifesaving equipment and other expenses that enabled the units to protect lives and property. SB 598 passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously. Governor Brown signed the bill on September 2 and it took effect immediately.


2014 Senate Bill 915
Mills High School parents Christine Noma and Paul Seto submitted the idea that led to legislation to establish further Advanced Placement testing procedures that prevent testing administration mistakes from negatively affecting students, schools and testing agencies. In July 2013, 641 Advanced Placement exams taken by 286 Mills High students were invalidated, despite the fact that no evidence of cheating was reported or found. The scores were thrown out on a technicality – a small handful of students, through no fault of their own, were seated incorrectly. Students were not provided an opportunity to retest until mid-August – months after the tests were given and too late for some graduating seniors to participate. SB 915, which was signed into law on August 22, 2014, requires a testing agency to immediately initiate an investigation upon learning of a complaint of inadequate or improper test conditions. The bill also requires a retest to be offered within 30 days of the completion of the investigation, if the testing agency determines that scores need to be cancelled. And the bill requires that seating charts be filled out for each test administered.


2014 – Honorable Mention
Brothers Brandon and Matthew Wong, who have food allergies, and their mom, Sharon, of San Mateo share an honorable mention for inspiring Senator Hill to co-author a bill with Senator Bob Huff that requires school districts to stock epinephrine auto-injectors so that they can be used to help students who suffer a serious anaphylactic allergic reaction during school hours. Brandon, then 10, met Hill during the senator’s visit to the boy’s school and told Hill about the concerns and risks faced by students with food allergies. Matthew, then 12, later also met Hill as did their mom, an advocate for food allergy awareness. Their information and that from others affected by food allergies prompted Hill to explore legislation. Learning that Senator Huff had a bill in the works, Hill co-authored Senator Huff’s SB 1266, which the governor signed into law in September 2014.


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 September 9, 2013. The law took effect on January 1, 2014.


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. Governor Brown signed the measure.


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.


La Honda Fire Brigade Chief Ari Delay and members of the La Honda Fire Brigade board and department receive a framed signed copy of SB 598 at the Pescadero Country Store – November 21, 2015

La Honda Fire Brigade Chief Ari Delay and members of the La Honda Fire Brigade board and department receive a framed signed copy of SB 598 at the Pescadero Country Store – November 21, 2015

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