SACRAMENTO – California consumers will not gain any new financial privacy protections this year, despite three different attempts to pass such a bill on the last day of the legislative session.
A turbulent debate over the issue culminated on the Assembly floor Saturday, as lawmakers first killed a bill by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Daly City, that would have allowed consumers to prohibit companies from sharing their financial information. That bill was then amended, passed the Assembly and then slaughtered in the Senate, after Speier called the new version a “sham.”
The Assembly narrowly voted 34-36 Saturday afternoon to kill Speier’s original bill, which was the strictest of the three measures.
Shortly afterward, Assemblyman John Dutra, D-Fremont, proposed amendments to the bill, which were backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans who opposed the previous version. The amendments would give customers the ability to prohibit companies from sharing their financial information with non-affiliate companies, while Speier’s version would have applied to affiliate companies as well.
Dutra said the bill still would have been the strongest privacy law in the country and could have been much stronger if the two had worked together.
“Keep in mind, mine got 49 votes (in the Assembly). Hers got 34 (votes),” Dutra said. “Regardless of what she said about how much more beneficial it would have been, it’s not beneficial if you can’t enact it into law.”
Speier and consumer activists said the amendments weakened the bill to the point it would not offer consumers enough protection.
Dutra previously had plans to introduce an entirely new bill but reportedly had trouble finding a Senate author, forcing him to “hijack” Speier’s bill without her approval. With Speier retained as the bill’s author, she attempted to remove the bill from the floor, only to have supporters of the new bill counter with a vote to override her request.
The bill passed the Assembly in a 49-12 vote.
Speier, however, promised to “take it up and kill it after exposing it for what it is.” She was successful: The bill got just one vote.