2009 Consumer Scorecard for State Legislators Issued

SACRAMENTO – The Consumer Federation of California released its 2009 Scorecard for State lawmakers today. The scorecard rates legislators on their votes cast on key consumer rights bills. State Assembly members and Senators were evaluated on a number of issues, including financial privacy protection, health care reform, food safety, household toxics, false advertising, deceptive insurance industry practices and real estate lending reform.

Click here to view the scorecard and the description of the legislation used to grade lawmakers.

Average scores were 62 percent in the Senate and 62 percent in the Assembly. The scorecard highlighted a deep ideological split between the two parties when it comes to consumer rights protections. Assembly Democrats had an average score of 89 percent, with Senate Democrats averaging 87 percent. Assembly Republicans took the side of consumers only 18 percent of the time, and Senate Republicans scored slightly better with 21 percent.

In all, six out of the 25 Senate Democrats scored 100 percent and another 15 of the 50 Democrats in the Assembly earned a perfect score. In contrast, 10 of the 29 Republicans in the Assembly scored 13 percent or less, and eight of the 15 Republicans in the Senate scored 15 percent or below. The high Republican scores were 31 percent in the Assembly and 64 percent in the Senate.

The single Independent in the Legislature ‘ Assemblyman Juan Arambula ‘ scored an 80 percent.

Not all Democratic lawmakers received high marks. An informal caucus of corporate-friendly Democrats often joined their Republican colleagues to kill consumer protection bills. Eleven Assembly Democrats received grades of 75 percent or below, with four receiving poor or failing grades of 69 percent or less. In the Senate, five Democratic Senators scored 75 percent or below, with two receiving poor or failing scores (67 percent or less).

"The scorecard should help Californians evaluate how their lawmakers voted on consumer protection bills that affect our pocketbooks, our privacy, and our health and safety, but often get little news coverage," said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California.

Lawmakers are graded on legislative proposals that the CFC sponsored, supported or opposed. CFC assessed final substantive floor votes. Committee votes were included in cases where important consumer bills died in committee before reaching a floor vote. Scores reflect the percentage of votes cast in favor of consumers.

These scores include votes cast as well as non-votes by lawmakers present at the time the vote was cast. Some lawmakers intentionally do not vote on certain proposed bills to avoid recording controversial votes. Since non-votes have the same effect as voting ‘No’, they are scored based on the non-vote’s effect on the forward movement of the bill.

Consumer Federation of California is a non-profit organization that has fought for consumer rights since 1960.

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