Fiona Ma pays attention to details

AP file photoFiona Ma

Welcome to the second installment of a four-part series examining the laws enacted in 2012 thanks to our local electeds. Last week, state Sen. Mark Leno was in the spotlight and this week we turn our attention to Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. Like Leno, Ma began her political career as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Elected to the state Assembly in 2006 and again in 2008 and 2010, Ma is now running to be a member of the state Board of Equalization, the body that collects and distributes certain state taxes.  

Ma has been the speaker pro tempore of the Assembly since 2010, which means she presides over the daily activities of the Assembly. She spends a lot of time standing at a podium with a gavel repeating, “All members vote who desire to vote.” In addition to that, she authored almost 20 pieces of legislation that were signed into law in 2012.

Victims of domestic violence have historically had a friend in Ma who continued her advocacy this year by introducing two bills that make it easier for persons convicted of crimes against abusers to introduce evidence of that abuse.

Ma also authored two bills that change initiatives passed by voters in Solano County and San Francisco. Measure E was passed by Solano County voters in 1984 and limited the amount of waste imported into the county to 95,000 tons per year; at the time it was importing 500,000 tons from San Francisco. The measure was never enforced because of a legal technicality and significant importing continued, but in 2010 a judge fixed the problem.

According to the legislative analysis of Ma’s bill AB 845, “This bill will essentially nullify Measure E and the Solano County Superior Court ruling by prohibiting a local government from restricting or limiting the importation of solid waste based on the place of origin.”

An initiative passed by voters in San Francisco in 2006 requires landlords to pay more than $5,000 whenever they relocate a tenant, even for a few days to make repairs. Ma authored a law that lowers that relocation payment to $275 per day for relocations less than 20 days.

A remarkable number of Ma’s bills that have passed into law address hyper-specific issues. Making it easier to collect sales tax on resold cars, allowing veterinary assistants to administer controlled substances and specifying that cremated remains may be let into the ocean in a special urn are all among her legislative achievements. Then again, attention to detail is what we need from representatives on the tax board.

Bay Area NewsCalifornia State AssemblyColumnistsFiona MaMelissa Griffin

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