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September 19, 2007

For More Information, Contact:
Hema Sareen Mohan (650) 688-6384


PALO ALTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) kicked off his seventh annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest today.  The contest invites Californians to submit ideas for new state legislation. 

“Some of the best ideas I hear for new legislation come directly from folks in the community.  If you’ve ever thought to yourself, ‘hey, there oughta be a law about that,’ now is your chance to be heard,” Simitian said.

The winner or winners will have their bill ideas introduced as legislation, and have the opportunity to testify at a hearing on their bill in the State Capitol.  They will also have lunch with Simitian, and receive a California State flag that has flown over the Capitol. “But most importantly,” said Simitian, “winners stand a good chance of seeing their ideas become law.”

Since its inception, the contest has spawned “an eclectic mix of proposals,” said Simitian.  Ten of those ideas have already become law.

An eleventh measure, Senate Bill (SB) 966, has been passed by the Legislature and awaits action by the Governor.  SB 966 would establish a framework for a drug “take-back” program to ensure the proper disposal of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.  Right now, drugs are either flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage where they pose a threat to the environment and contaminate our water. 

Simitian explained, “Few consumers have the time or the inclination to follow the multi-step guidelines for safely disposing pharmaceuticals, which involve crushing or dissolving the medication, mixing with kitty litter, sealing in a plastic bag then setting out with the trash.  Let’s face it, that’s just not going to happen.”

SB 966 was a winning entry submitted by Rebecca Kassel, a then 17-year-old Santa Cruz County high school student, and Mountain View resident Abe Binder, who were both concerned that consumers don’t have a safe and responsible way of disposing of their unused prescription drugs.

“The contest,” said Simitian, “has had a powerful impact on the way that folks view the legislative process.  At the beginning of the year, somebody offers up a good idea.  At the end of the year, it’s the law for 37 million Californians.  That tells you that despite its imperfections, the system can and does work.  I encourage everyone to try to be a part of it.” 

To enter the contest, submit your idea on Simitian’s website at or request an entry form from Simitian’s district offices at (650) 688-6384 or (831) 425-0401.  The deadline for all entries is November 9, 2007.