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There Oughta Be A Law

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LITTLE ROCK -

The wrecker service charged you hundreds of dollars for a two mile tow.

A 90 year-old driver just rear-ended you in a parking lot.

The house you just rented…is being foreclosed on.

In each of these cases, the phrase "There oughta be a law…" likely came to mind.

Maybe you have your own frustrating example.

At least we hope you do.

At some point during the past year something has happened to you or you've seen something happen to somebody else and you said it to yourself.

Now we want you to say it to us:  "There oughta be a law."

One out of every three lawmakers has yet to file a bill of any kind this legislative session.

But others are filling the void. 

Like Senator David Johnson of Little Rock. Johnson has already sponsored 26 bills.

And Senator Johnny Key of Mountain Home. Key has already offered up 19.

Where do legislators get the ideas for the bills they file?

Many come from state agencies. Others are born out of personal experience. And some ideas…come from you.

"Almost all of our legislation is…someone comes up and the word is...'Hey, there oughta be a bill about this or there oughta be a law," agrees Homer Lenderman, a second-term Democrat from Brookland.

12 years ago a California state senator, Joe Simitian, starting asking his constituents to submit "There oughta be a law" ideas.

18 of those ideas did become law, including tougher guidelines on the use of cameras to issue traffic tickets, protections for renters during a time of frequent foreclosures, greater privacy protection for those who use public library computers and preventing sweepstakes operators from selling customer information.

Not all ideas became law, but contest winners got a lunch with the senator at the capitol, the chance to testify on behalf of their idea and a state flag.

Representative Lenderman isn't promising lunch or a flag to citizens in his Craighead County district, but he is working on two bills because people have complained to him that the laws are too lax governing what is taken in by pawn shops and scrap metal yards.

"I have one farmer that in the past month has been hit twice and had over $10,000 worth of damage done," says Rep. Lenderman.  "Another farmer had a motor bolted off…they couldn't load it…they tied it on behind a vehicle with a chain and drug it off so that they could sell it for scrap iron."

Lots of legislators listen to their constituents.  

Representative Jody Dickinson of Newport has filed a bill for someone who got crossways with a utility over use of an easement.

Representative Kim Hammer of Benton has filed a bill on behalf of a citizen who lost land through eminent domain to a property owner's improvement district.

So here is what you need to do if you have an idea that "Oughta be a law" in Arkansas.

We have created a special email address:  thereoughtabealaw@katv.com  That is where you can send your suggestions.

We will read them all and pick a few to feature on Friday nights.  And who knows? Maybe your idea could one day be the law of the land.

Air date:  February 1st, 2013