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Leno-Authored Bills Clear Hurdle

One is about protecting consumers from unfair debt collection, the protects children in the court system who have parent-child relationships with more than two people.

Two bills authored by Sen. Mark Leno, who represents Mill Valley and all of Marin in the state Senate, moved them one step closer to a vote on the Assembly floor by passing the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The legislation includes SB 890, which creates significant new consumer protections against unfair debt collection practices, and SB 1476, which modernizes state law to protect children who have parent-child relationships with more than two people.

SB 890 – Fair Debt Buyers Protection Act: Sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, SB 890 protects consumers against unfair debt collection practices. It ensures that debt buyers substantiate the validity of a debt before they collect and requires that they direct their collection efforts at the proper debtor for the right amount. The bill also ends lawsuits on uncollected debts that are barred by an applicable statute of limitations.

“This legislation provides critical consumer protections against debt buyers who use aggressive and abusive tactics to collect funds when they cannot even prove they are targeting the right consumer for the correct amount,” Leno, D-San Francisco, said in a release. “We have worked with the debt collector and debt buyer trade associations to come up with a practical bill that significantly improves the way consumers are treated by representatives from the ever-growing debt collection industry.”

SB 1476 – Parent-Child Relationships: SB 1476 allows a court to recognize parent-child relationships based on the evidence and the best interests of the child. It modernizes state law by giving courts the flexibility to protect children who have parent-child relationships with more than two people.

SB 1476 does not change existing law that sets the high standard for being a legal parent. It simply clarifies a judge’s ability to decide that when more than two parents satisfy the standard, the court is allowed to recognize them as the child’s legal parents. It could apply in appropriate circumstances where more than two parents have brought the child into their homes and held the child out as their own.

It would not apply in cases where a relative or loved one, such as a girlfriend or boyfriend of a parent or other caregiver, has provided only periodic care for a child because current law already stipulates they would not meet the definition of a parent. SB 1476 is sponsored by the Children’s Advocacy Institute and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. 

“We live in a world today where courts face the diverse circumstances that have reshaped California families,” Leno said. “This legislation gives courts the flexibility to protect the best interests of a child who is being supported financially and emotionally by those parents. It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents, especially when a family is in distress and a child’s security is a concern.”

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