David Chiu Wants to Hear Your Ideas for New Laws

Ever wanted the glory of being a politician without any of the bullshit? If you live in California’s 17th Assembly District (which includes San Francisco), you’ll soon have your chance.

Assemblyman David Chiu, who represents the district, today launched a new initiative/contest called “There Ought to be a Law,” whereby average taxpayers like you and me can finally moonlight as lawmakers. Chiu is asking constituents in his district to propose new legislation for the 2016 legislative year, noting, “Some of the most interesting pieces of legislation I have worked on throughout my career came directly from constituents who are dealing with challenges or see opportunities in their everyday lives.”

[jump] The idea was inspired by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), who has sponsored the same program for the past eight years. Past proposals that Hill actually introduced in the Senate include increasing fines for commercial trucks that spill debris on roads and highways; a mandate that firms sending solicitation letters that appear to be from government agencies include a disclaimer that they’re not actually working on behalf of the government; and exempting California’s roughly 250 all-volunteer fire departments from sales tax on fundraising activities.

Jennifer Kwart, a spokeswoman from Chiu’s office, says the Assemblyman isn’t hankering after particular ideas or issue areas. She adds that the office is also prepared to sift through the inevitable flood of crackpot proposals.

“Good ideas to solve problems or create new opportunities” sometimes come from the unlikeliest of places, she says with admirable optimism.

In some ways, the idea is similar to the SFMTA's recent survey about illegal church double parking. That nine-question rabbit hole also featured an open-ended response option where locals could unload their grievances — many of which, I'm willing to bet, were totally unhelpful.  

Maybe that's why Chiu's office says he's focused on proposals that are “realistic and have a feasible chance of being passed in Sacramento.”

If you’re inspired to suggest a new law for 2016, you have until Jan. 15, 2016 to do so. Here’s how. 

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