Skip to content

October 1, 2003

For More Information, Contact:
Daryl Savage at (650) 688-6384


PALO ALTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) kicked off his third annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest today after learning that the Governor had just signed two of this year’s “There Oughta Be A Law” bills.  “The two winning entries from the 2002-2003 contest show that individuals really can make a difference,” Simitian said. “These proposals are now law in California.”

The first winning entry signed into law by Governor Davis on September 30th addresses the growing concern in the community about the misuse of alcohol and drugs by teenagers, often with tragic consequences.

The entry came from a substance abuse counselor who saw first-hand that the combination of alcohol and unsupervised kids can cause trouble. San Carlos resident Donna Lera proposed a bill that would allow misdemeanor criminal penalties for parents who knowingly allow minors to consume alcohol in their home, when that alcohol consumption results in a car accident (AB 1301). The hope is that AB 1301 will serve as a deterrent, make parents think twice about serving alcohol and give them a tool to use with their teens when denying them alcohol.

The second winning entry was submitted by Charles Williams of Cupertino.  Williams’ 17-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair. Her electric wheelchair weighed more than 250 pounds, making it difficult to transport. Williams installed a wheelchair lift on his car to carry the chair, but the lift obstructs the license plate – a violation of the State Vehicle Code. 

Williams wanted to see an allowance made to obstruct the rear license plate on certain vehicles for the purpose of carrying wheelchair lifts for disabled passengers. Now that the Governor has signed Simitian’s bill (AB 1303), the obstruction will be legal as long as the vehicle also displays a “replica” (i.e., paper copy) of the plate on the rear windshield. For Williams and his family, as well as thousands of other individuals with disabilities, AB 1303 puts an end to their “scofflaw” status.

Upon signing AB 1301 and 1303, Governor Gray Davis commented, “California is still a state where you can have a good idea, share that idea with your local Assemblyman, and see your idea become law. I’m proud that our government is accessible to the average Californian, and I congratulate Assemblyman Simitian’s constituents on their good ideas, as well as their initiative in bringing those ideas forward.”

Simitian invited his constituents to share their proposals for state legislation while speaking to a crowd today of more than 200 visitors attending his District Office’s annual Open House. “Some of the best ideas I hear for new legislation come directly from the folks in my District. If you’ve ever said to yourself, ‘hey, there oughta be a law about this or that,’ now is your chance to be heard,” Simitian said.

Beginning today, Simitian is accepting “There Oughta Be A Law” contest proposals from area residents who hope their ideas will be introduced as bills in the 2004 legislative session. The winner (or winners) will have their bill ideas introduced as legislation, will be invited to the State Capitol to have lunch with Simitian and will have the opportunity to testify at a committee hearing on their bill. Winners will also be given a California State flag that has been flown over the Capitol. “But most importantly,” said Simitian, “winners stand a good chance of seeing their ideas become law.”

Last year the Governor signed three bills into law that had been proposed by Simitian’s constituents and then turned into legislation by Simitian.  Contest winners in that first round of proposals included subjects as diverse as protecting kids, pets and wildlife from accidental anti-freeze poisoning, consumer protections for gift certificate holders, and reducing the use of pesticides in state buildings and grounds.

“Now more than ever, there is a real need to get people engaged in making the system work,” Simitian said, adding that he hopes local students will submit their ideas as well. “Kids see things in a different way. I’d love to hear what they have to say,” he said.

Since the contest began two years ago, it has inspired more than two hundred ideas for new legislation.  While only a few can be selected in any given year, Simitian says he reads every proposal submitted.

Application forms for this year’s contest may be downloaded from Simitian’s website at The public may also call the Assemblyman’s office to request a form at 650-688-6384.