Senator Hill Encourages Entries for “Ought Be a Law…” Bill Idea Contest

South San Francisco, CA    January 14, 2017   Submitted by Leslie Guevara, Office of State Senator Jerry Hill 

California Senator Jerry Hill

Entries Welcomed for Senator Jerry Hill’s Ninth “Oughta Be a Law…or Not” Bill Contest

Deadline for Bill Ideas from Constituents is January 20

SAN MATEO – Have a great idea for a new state law? Or maybe there’s one that you think has outlasted its usefulness? State Senator Jerry Hill is accepting entries for his ninth annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” contest for bill ideas from constituents, and encouraged Peninsula and Silicon Valley residents to participate.

“We’ve had impressive legislative successes with the ‘Oughta Be A Law…Or Not’ contest thanks to constituents’ strong participation,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “Here’s an opportunity to help make a positive change and engage in the legislative process.”

The contest is open to all constituents of the 13th Senate District and enables 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, and then introduce the idea as legislation. Past winners have testified on behalf of their bill idea in Assembly or Senate committees and many have also had their bill ideas signed into law.

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 20, 2017.

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.

Constituents’ ideas that emerged during the “Oughta Be a Law…” contest last year led to four bills, two of which became law:

· Senate Bill 814 – Cracks down on excessive water use by households that flout mandatory reductions imposed during drought emergencies. The law, which took effect on January 1, was inspired by a San Mateo resident who was outraged over seemingly unrestrained water-guzzling by some households while others were striving to meet conservation targets.

· Senate Bill 996 – Aids local nonprofit and religious organizations that provide affordable housing by increasing the assessed property value exemption from $2,000,000 annually to $10,000,000 annually. The new law, which took effect on January 1, applies to three local nonprofits, such as the Saint Francis Center in Redwood City and the Ministry Services of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul based in Los Altos Hills, which also provide housing, food and clothing services to low-income families.

· Senate Bill 986 – Sought to reduce the fine on red-light violations involving a turn that would have been permissible if the motorist had fully stopped at the light before turning. The bill would have brought the base fine for a “rolling stop” to $35, aligning it with other similar violations. A San Bruno resident who urged the change said the current base fine of $100 can lead to fees and other penalties that amount to hundreds of dollars – an onerous amount for individuals and families living on fixed or low incomes. The bill did not survive the legislative process.

· Senate Bill 1040 – Sought to examine the challenges that can emerge with international adoptions and explore ways to address related issues that can lead to adoptive parents “rehoming” children who were adopted overseas, a situation that leaves the children vulnerable to mistreatment if not abuse. The bill was prompted by a San Mateo adoptive father of two who said children should be protected from being handed off to new guardians – without oversight by social service or adoption agencies – because their adoptive parents no longer want them. The Legislature passed the bill, but it was vetoed.

For more information about the contest and past “Oughta Be a Law…” winners, visit:

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