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Redwood City man winner in Simitian’s law contest

By rgordon
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 at 6:47 pm in Uncategorized.

If a Redwood City School District board member has his way, voting precincts could be readjusted and expanded to allow people to vote closer to home.

Rest assured, school board members are not suddenly writing legislation. But Dennis McBride might have the chance to take the backdoor approach to affecting the law books as a private citizen and winner of state Sen. Joe Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest.

Under state law, only 1,000 voters are allowed – whether they vote permanent absentee or not – to be assigned a polling site (one from the last Election Day is shown below). Once the 1,000 mark is hit, election officials must split voting precincts. That law, McBride said, left him voting two and a half miles away from his home instead of half a mile. His proposal, now officially SB 967, would expand precinct sizes by allowing county elections officials to subtract permanent absentee voters from the total number of voters in a precinct.


“The goal is to help make sure we don’t have empty polling places in one part of town while voters are waiting in long lines in another part of town,” Simitian said in a statement.

This is the sixth year of Simitian’s contest; in the past five years, 10 winning entries have been signed into law. There were more than 250 entries this year. Besides getting their ideas introduced into legislation, this year’s winners will have the opportunity to testify at committee hearings on their bills, lunch with Simitian and receive a California state flag that has flow over the Capitol.

Two other contest winners this year were from Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. San Jose resident Richard Engfer proposed that credit card companies and other lenders be prohibited from assessing interest rates, fees and other penalties based on an individual’s debt to other lenders. The bill, SB 968, would ban a “universal default” provision from California contracts, including credit card contracts.

Rebecca Kassel, a 17-year-old from Santa Cruz County, and Mountain View resident Abe Binder won for their proposal to keep prescription drugs from being flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage. Under SB 966, pharmacies would be required by July 1, 2008 to have a system in place to collect and dispose of unused prescription drugs dropped off by consumers. San Mateo County began a similar pilot program last year for disposal of prescription drugs at the San Bruno, Pacifica and Daly City police stations as well as the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. That program , which collected 590 pounds of drugs in four months, has been copied by Vacaville and has generated more than a dozen inquiries from jurisdictions all over the nation.

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