Sen. Jerry Hill calls for Oughta Be A Law contest submissions

For the seventh consecutive year, state Sen. Jerry Hill is challenging his constituents to submit ideas for a new legislative bill or recommend an existing law that should be overturned.

Residents of the 13th District, which includes much of San Mateo County and parts of Santa Clara County, can now apply for the Oughta Be A Law … Or Not contest by submitting their bill ideas online, over the phone or through the mail.

The winner, selected by Hill, will have the opportunity for his or her bill to be introduced to the state Legislature and potentially signed into law. Additionally, the person who submits the winning idea will have the opportunity to testify on the legislation during hearings in Sacramento. Submissions are due by Jan. 16.

Anyone who resides in the 13th District can apply, and participants are encouraged to offer ideas that seek to improve the lives of those in the Peninsula and Silicon Valley areas. The ideas may be local in nature or deal with issues faced by the entire state.

Hill said the most important qualities of past contest-winning bills were that they were practical, focused on good government and took on topics that he could stand behind.

“No one knows better than the citizens who have to live with all the laws every day,” Hill said. “And this is a good opportunity for me to get out from the 'Sacramento bubble.'”

Hill's predecessor, Joe Simitian, originally started the contest while he was in office as the state senator of the 11th District, which then encompassed parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Noting how 18 of Simitian's selected winners were signed into law, Hill said he became aware of the importance of getting constituents directly involved with the legislative process.

“I always watched it before I got into the Legislature, and I saw the value of it,” Hill said.

He started his contest in 2009 as member of the state Assembly, and has continued to run it annually after he was elected to the state Senate in 2012.

Mills High School parents Christine Noma and Paul Seto won last year's contest with their idea to establish expanded Advanced Placement testing procedures after an incident where students at Mills were seated incorrectly and their scores were thrown out. That legislation, Senate Bill 915, was signed into law in August.

The 2013 winner, an idea submitted by Dan Hilberman of Menlo Park, became SB 589, which then became a law that ensures that individuals who vote by mail can determine after the fact whether or not their votes were counted.

Hill encourages anyone in District 13 with an idea for the community to apply for the contest, though he suggests that the proposals “have potential and have the possibility to become laws.”

“One unusual idea was when someone legitimately wanted to ban leaf blowers,” Hill said of a submission from a past year. “That's more a local government issue than a state issue.”

Interested constituents can find an application form and more information online at, or by calling Hill's office at (650) 212-3313.