State Senator Joe Simitian (pictured at left) has announced the finalists for his "There Oughta Be A Law" contest, where state citizens can submit their proposals for a law that California needs. You know, that's kind of a genius idea.

This year's winners are all from the Bay Area (but people from all over the state are allowed to send in submissions). Unfortunately, no one suggested the things think should be a law ("how come we don't have more fish and chips stands around here?") -- instead, soberer heads than ours have proposed protections for people getting reverse mortgages, a requirement for transportation authorities to plant water-saving plants when landscaping, and a bill requiring people to move over a lane when they see a stopped emergency vehicle or tow truck (which was proposed last year and Schwarzenegger vetoed. ....Why the veto? Seems reasonable to us.)

Simitian will introduce the bills as legislation, and the winners get to testify before a committee about why their law should be passed. ("Because fish and chips are really, really good, especially with malt vinegar!"). Previous winners include a Los Altos couple who proposed a bill to lower foreign adoption costs, two women who independently suggested that you be required to turn on your headlights if your wipers are on, a proposal to add a bitter flavor to antifreeze so pets won't drink it, and a requirement that bankrupt companies honor gift certificates. The contest's been going for five years, and at least six proposals have become laws (including the windshield wiper thing).