With all the excitement surrounding the impending election, let us not forget those dedicated public servants (or rascals, depending on your disposition) already in office. In the first of a series examining the legislative victories of local representatives, we examine state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
Most of the laws authored by Leno that have been added to the law books in 2012 can be grouped into three areas: consumer protection, local fees and privacy.
Consumer protection: With the cooperation and input from State Attorney General Kamala Harris, Leno authored Senate Bill 890. “The Fair Debt Buyers Practices Act.” The act requires collectors of consumer debt to have proof that the debt is legitimate. Another bill, SB 1170, expands protections for seniors who are veterans as unscrupulous insurance salesmen have apparently targeted this group. Finally, Leno was one of six authors listed on the state’s massive mortgage protection bill.
Local fees: San Franciscans will be interested to know that Leno has passed a bill allowing San Francisco to increase the vehicle license fee to 2 percent of the assessed value cars in The City. It will take a two-thirds vote at the Board of Supervisors and a majority vote by the public to enact, but we finally have permission. Leno has been trying to pass this legislation since 2005; prior attempts have been vetoed by both former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Gov. Jerry Brown, who finally relented on Leno’s fifth attempt. To be fair, Leno also authored a law limiting the amount that local governments can charge for rooftop solar panel permits.
Privacy: Leno’s SB 1434 requires government entities to get a search warrant before using an electronic device to track someone’s location and SB 1407 prohibits a psychotherapist from releasing mental health records of a minor to the minor’s parents if the child had been removed from that parent’s custody owing to abuse or neglect.
Leno was elected to the state senate in 2008 after serving six years in the Assembly and is now running for re-election against Republican challenger Harmeet K. Dhillon.