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September 22, 2009

For More Information, Contact:
Keith Weissglass (650) 688-6384


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

“This has been a challenging year for California,” said Simitian. “But experience tells me that especially in tough times, the public wants to make a difference. Folks in our community care about making government work, and they understand what needs to be done. The ‘There Oughta Be a Law’ contest is an invitation to roll up your sleeves and participate in that process.”
“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 of the contest will have their 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 for more than 38 million Californians.”

Simitian added, “I’m constantly impressed by the number, quality, and variety of contest entries I receive each year. And our contest winners come from all walks of life.” Previous winners have included, “an attorney, a retired nurse, a pair of police officers, a high school senior, a tow truck driver, and Stanford med students. It’s been an incredibly diverse group of folks.”

“Equally impressive,” said Simitian, “is the range of issues winning entries have addressed. Contest winners have tackled everything from drunk driving to consumer protection, environmental quality to child safety – everything under the sun.”

“It’s also important to note that even when a contest entry isn’t chosen as a winner, it still has an impact,” said Simitian. “I personally review every proposal, and I learn a tremendous amount about the cares and concerns of my constituents. That’s knowledge I carry with me every time I set foot on the floor of the Senate.”

“My district includes 13 cities and towns with close to a million residents,” said Simitian. “They’re smart, well educated folks who care a lot and are engaged in their communities. It just makes sense to reach out to them for their good ideas.”

Fourteen of those ideas have already become law, and another, SB 486, currently awaits the Governor’s signature. SB 486 was proposed by 2009 “Oughta” winner Betty Lipkin, a resident of San Carlos. Lipkin, who lives with multiple sclerosis, has several containers of ‘sharps’ (a type of medical waste that includes syringes and needles) in her home. She proposed the law to help patients like her to manage their sharps conveniently and safely.

To enter the contest, submit your idea on Simitian’s website at or request an entry form from Simitian’s district offices by calling (650) 688-6384, (408) 277-9460 or (831) 425-0401. The deadline for entries is Saturday, October 31, 2009.