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Peninsula residents get chance to propose laws

If you’re irate, peeved or just want to make a difference — and you live along the Peninsula  — you can now do more than just grumble and complain.

As part of a contest offered by state Sen. Jerry Hill, residents of his district are being invited to pitch their own ideas for what they think should be passed into law.

Hill — a Democrat representing California’s Senate District 13, including virtually all of San Mateo County extending south to Sunnyvale — is accepting applications for the sixth annual “Oughta Be a Law … Or Not Contest.”

The senator will select a winner then introduce the idea as legislation.  The contest winner will also have a chance to testify if and when hearings are scheduled on the proposed law.

The contest is open to suggestions for new laws that would improve the “quality of life” for both Hill’s constituents and all Californians.

In launching this year’s contest just before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Hill said in a statement:

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

Hill spokeswoman Leslie Guevarra said Monday afternoon their office had already received several applications for this year’s contest.

Applicants can also submit a pitch to have a current law repealed or revised.That’s where the “Or Not” part of the contest comes in.

A longtime Peninsula political leader, Hill  previously served as mayor of San Mateo, as a county supervisor and as a member of state Assembly before being elected to the state Senate in 2012.

Guevarra told SFBay that Hill began the contest as an Assemblyman and continued it when he moved to the Senate:

“He didn’t skip a beat.”

According to Hill’s office, laws enacted from contest winners have improved vote-by-mail verification, endorsed a shift to national popular vote in presidential elections, and required disclaimers on official-looking solicitation mailers that appear to be — but aren’t — from government agencies.

Other bills passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown include legislation linking community colleges with local chambers of commerce, and another that would have increased fines for truckers who spill shipments on state highways.

The contest is open to all constituents of Hill’s 13th Senate district. Entries can be obtained by calling Senator Hill’s District office at 650-212-3313 or by downloading an entry form from his website. The deadline is January 15.

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