He admits the idea isn't his. Nonetheless, it works, and he's doing it again.
Assemblyman Jerry Hill is encouraging Peninsula residents to be a part of his fourth annual “Oughta Be A Law…Or Not” constituent bill idea contest.
"It allows people to express themselves, and some of their frustrations," says Hill. "I think there is an interest in taking government into their own hands, and making changes they see government either unwilling, or roadblocked, and unable to solve."
Irritated by motorcycles that zoom past you in stopped traffic, splitting lanes between cars? At least one constituent feels the same way, and has submitted to Assemblyman Hill a proposal to ban the practice as possible legislation. It is among some 300 entries Hill has received this year.
"One fellow lives in an apartment complex, and smells cigarette smoke coming up from the floor below," says Hill. "He wants legislation to say that cigarette smokers must live on the top floor of an apartment complex, because it's driving him crazy with the smell of smoke."
"Another suggestion relates to pedestrian crossing lights, that they're not uniform in their countdowns," continues Hill, "and neither the pedestrian or the driver knows how the lights will count down. So he wants uniformity -10 seconds or 15 seconds, or whatever it is. Will the light change when the countdown gets to zero?"
The contest is open to all constituents of the 19th Assembly District and allows residents to submit their ideas for improving the quality of life in San Mateo County or the state of California.
Applicants can submit their ideas for the creation of a new law or the repeal or revision of laws already on the books.
One suggestion to raise money for California schools would be to allow legal betting pools, like the March Madness pools, where people could bet statewide on professional sporting events.
There's a suggestion to ban leaf blowers. A suggestion to allow the state and municipalities to accept any volunteer labor for any purpose. A suggestion to place posters on restaurant walls indicating possible food allergies.
And a suggestion to deregulate game fowl sports in agricultural and industrial zones. "My assumption...I don't know what that is," says Hill. "Cockfighting maybe?"
Hill will select a winner and then introduce the idea as legislation.
Applications can be obtained by calling Assemblymember Hill’s San Mateo office at 650-349-1900 or from his website.
Completed applications may be e-mailed to Assemblymember Jerry Hill, faxed to the San Mateo district office at 650-341-4676 or mailed to the district office located at 1528 South El Camino Real, Suite 302, San Mateo, CA 94402. Submissions must be received by January 1, 2012. The deadline to introduce bills for the 2012 legislative session is February 24.
The 19th Assembly District includes the cities of Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Daly City, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Pacifica, San Bruno, San Mateo, and South San Francisco and parts of unincorporated San Mateo County.
According to Hill's website, past winners include:
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-looking letters that, in one instance, demanded companies make a $225 payment to fulfil 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% of people nationwide. The measure was signed by Governor Brown.
Hill got the participatory law idea from State Senator Joe Simitian, who just concluded running his 11th, and final "There Ought to Be a Law" contest this year. Simitian will be termed out next year.