Schwarzenegger Receives Failing Grade from Consumer Rights Organization

Governor takes side of consumers on just 6 of 14 of the most critical consumer protection bills

(CA) Governor Schwarzenegger’s final verdict on a host of critical consumer protection bills this past weekend left consumer advocates disappointed. Of the 14 bills identified by the Consumer Federation of California (CFC) as most important, in only six instances did the Governor take the side of the consumer.

While acknowledging that the Governor signed several consumer protection laws, Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California stated: ‘We are disappointed that the Governor sided with big business interests and against consumers on the majority of bills that reached his desk. The Governor turned a deaf ear to California consumers on key food safety, automobile insurance and financial privacy proposals.’

All totaled, the Governor signed three bad anti-consumer bills, vetoed five pro-consumer bills, and signed six pro-consumer bills. All bills on the list were authored by Democrats.

‘Pro’ Consumer Bills Vetoed by the Governor

AB 1512 (Lieu) ‘ would have prohibited a retailer from selling baby food, infant formula, and over the counter medicine after the “use by” date on its packaging. Citing the need for the bill, CFC stated, ‘California consumers should have the right to purchase medications that are safe and effective and parents and children deserve assurances that their baby food is nutritional and healthy.’

SB 20 (Simitian) – would have required financial privacy security breach notices to inform potential victims of identity theft about the nature of the beach, and to include contact information for credit reporting agencies.

AB 943 (Mendoza) ‘ would have prohibited a prospective employer from using consumer credit reports in the hiring process unless the report is related to job duties.

AB 261 (Salas) ‘ would have clarified that California students’ privacy rights allow limited access to student records by law enforcement and election officials to further juvenile justice and voter registration.

AB 811 (John Perez)
– would have prohibited check cashers from manufacturing and selling false identification cards, or identification cards that closely resemble a state drivers’ license card.

‘Anti’ Consumer Bills Signed by the Governor

AB 48 (Portantino) ‘ will reinstate responsibility for oversight of for-profit post-secondary educational institutions to an agency unsuited for the task, and would establish standards that would permit fraud on students.

AB 1200 (Hayashi) ‘ weakens California’s ‘anti-steering’ law by allowing automobile insurance companies to persuade policy holders who have chosen a repair shop to switch to a shop that may use inferior parts or procedures.

SB 98 (Calderon) ‘ Regulates life settlement industry, but requires biased disclosures that do not inform insurance policy holders that they may have better alternatives to surrendering a policy or allowing a life insurance policy to lapse.

‘Pro’ Consumer Bills Signed by the Governor

AB 119 (Jones) ‘ will prevent HMOs and insurers from charging men and women different rates for the same health insurance policies in the individual market.

SB 340 (Yee) – will curtail the business practice of automatic renewal for products or services advertised to customers as free trial offers.

AB 260 (Lieu) ‘ will rein in mortgage brokers by requiring them to act in a borrower’s best interest – and prohibit them from steering borrowers to loans with worse terms than other loans they qualify for.

SB 95 (Corbett) – will increase bonding requirements on motor vehicle dealers to reduce impact of dealer bankruptcies on consumers, and require dealers to pay off liens on used cars before reselling them.

SB 510 (Corbett)
– will increase consumer protections in the area of structured settlement purchases.

AB 1160 (Fong) ‘ will require mortgage lenders to provide translated mortgage summary documents to a borrower in the language in which it was negotiated.