SACRAMENTO — Legislation aimed at protecting consumers' financial privacy cleared an important committee vote Thursday after Gov. Gray Davis and the lawmaker pushing the bill inched closer to an accord.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the bill by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) on a 13-5 vote, sending the measure to the full Assembly, which is expected to vote on the bill next week. The committee had delayed a vote on the bill last week at the request of Davis' chief of staff, Lynn Schenk.
The committee vote came as Davis made high-profile endorsements Thursday of separate bills that seek to restrict telemarketing and impose some limits on high-interest loans to people with poor credit.
Davis said he endorsed Speier's measure, the most sweeping consumer-oriented legislation of the year. But Speier said talks are continuing over the bill's details. Major financial institutions, including Citigroup and Providian Bancorp., along with much of the insurance industry, are battling the bill.
Davis last week said he intends to sign a tough consumer privacy bill, and said he hopes that he can work out an accord with Speier. Indeed, the administration and Speier have reached a compromise on several issues, including the level of fines that could be imposed for misuse of consumers' financial information.
But with slightly more than a week before lawmakers leave town for the year, the Democratic governor and Speier have not reconciled key differences.
"We're still in negotiation," Speier said. "I'm not going to allow this bill to be watered down. If there are accommodations that do not reduce the protection to consumers, then I will consider them."
Negotiations focus on whether consumers should have the right to choose if their financial information is shared among corporations that have marketing agreements.
Speier, backed by Consumers Union and other consumer advocates, is opposing such sharing without consumers' express permission. Davis is urging that corporations have greater authority to transfer financial details.