State Rep. Pam Marsh has launched a “There Oughta Be a Law” contest to get ideas for potential new laws — or input on which existing laws should be scrubbed from the books.
“We hope people will take the opportunity to put down on paper what they were venting about at the dinner table,” said Marsh, a Democrat from Ashland.
Marsh said she borrowed the idea for the law contest from a former colleague in the California Legislature.
“He was able to generate a number of ideas that are now law in California,” she said. “It seemed like such a good idea to engage people and show how accessible the process is.”
A legislative proposal, or bill, is nothing more than a good idea designed to address a community problem. People don’t have to be legislators to recognize the need to implement a new law, or change or eliminate an existing one, Marsh noted.
“Sometimes we have laws on the books that are not useful anymore or are not accomplishing their original intent," she said.
Ashland High School student Bella Mannray is helping Marsh with the contest as part of her senior project.
“The ‘There Oughta Be a Law Contest’ is a way for community members to get involved with legislation at the state level and make an impact,” Mannray said. “We really want to show that anybody can have an idea for a piece of legislation and anybody can act on that and have a law come into fruition.”
Contest entries are due by Nov. 1.
The entry form asks the contest entrant to describe a problem and a proposed solution.
Entrants are also asked to think about who will support or oppose the legislation — such as legislators, the governor, state and local government agencies and interest groups.
“We’re asking people to think about interest groups and individuals who would be for the bill or opposed to the bill because part of the process is figuring out whether your concept has a good chance of getting through the legislature,” Marsh said.
Finally, entrants are asked to describe potential financial impacts — including costs, savings and revenue — associated with a proposal.
After the contest closes, Marsh and Mannray will look through the proposals and pick at least one to have written up as a potential law and introduced during the 2019 legislative session.
“I hope we have a whole variety of ideas,” Marsh said.
She’s already advised one woman concerned about fireworks to consider entering the contest.
Mannray will be spreading the word about the contest to student groups and organizations off campus, including Rotary and Soroptimist clubs. She created the fliers and entry forms for the contest, is doing media outreach and will track the proposed law as it winds through the legislature.
More information about the contest and entry forms are available at www.oregonlegislature.gov/Marsh.
Completed forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Bella Mannray, 2745 Diane St., Ashland, OR 97520.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.