Leno, Mark

Elected to the Senate in 2008, Senator Mark Leno represents the 3rd District, which includes Marin, and portions of San Francisco and Sonoma Counties. He is the first openly gay man elected to the State Senate, and one of the first two openly gay men ever elected to the Assembly. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served six years in the State Assembly and four and a half years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Retirement: Where Corporate Executives Make the Real Big Bucks

By Senator Mark Leno

With most of the attention focused on the rising level of CEO pay while executives are actively working, an even more important aspect of executive compensation has been overlooked. What a top corporate executive makes when he or she retires from a publicly traded corporation is an ongoing expense to the company every year for the rest of their lives, as opposed to their yearly pay, which is a one-time payment.

Make Government Work for You

By Senator Mark Leno

Government entities can sometimes seem intimidating to navigate, but I want to remind you that our government is here to work for you. In fact, both the state and federal governments offer helpful services that could benefit you, your family and friends. I am pleased to inform you about several of these useful programs and encourage you to take full advantage of them if the need arises.

Unclaimed Property

Under law, the state of California is required to help reunite lost and abandoned property with its rightful owners or heirs. The California Controller's Office currently holds more than $6 billion in unclaimed property that belongs to about 13 million people and organizations across the state.

Protecting Consumers from Abusive Debt Collectors

By State Senator Mark Leno

A friend and colleague of mine recently received an unexpected call from his employer notifying him that his wages would be garnished. Apparently, a judgment had been issued on an outstanding debt of several thousand dollars, and as a result, the courts had approved the wage garnishment. The only problem was that my friend had no outstanding debts, nor was he notified of any lawsuit. It turns out that the unpaid bill actually belonged to another man with a similar name and a different address. With time and effort, my friend was fortunately able to clear up the mess, but there are no safeguards in state or federal law that would prevent it from happening again to him or another innocent consumer.

Legislation Needed to Revise Penalties for Simple Drug Possession

By State Senator Mark Leno

Following the lead of 13 other states and the federal government, I'm introducing legislation that revises the penalty for simple drug possession under state law from a felony to a misdemeanor. The new legislation, SB 1506, does not apply to anyone involved in selling, manufacturing or possessing drugs for sale. The bill would help alleviate overcrowding in state prisons and county jails, ease pressure on California’s court system and result in millions of dollars in annual savings for both state and local governments.  

Keeping Illegally Possessed Guns Off Our Streets is Critical to Public Safety

By Senator Mark Leno

One of the most important measures we can take to protect public safety is to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are prohibited from owning them due to criminal activity or mental illness. Unfortunately, there are more than 18,000 convicted felons and mentally ill persons in California who illegally possess their firearms, and this list grows by about 15 to 20 people each day. In the Bay Area alone, more than 2,500 people who once made legal purchases of guns now own them illegally due to subsequent issues that disqualify them from possessing weapons.

Hemp Bill Lands on Governor’s Desk

By State Senator Mark Leno

California is one step closer to building a successful hemp industry in the Central Valley.

This week the Legislature gave final approval to legislation I introduced that allows California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers. Senate Bill 676 creates a four-county pilot program in Imperial, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin, allowing farmers in our state to tap into the nation’s hemp market, which is currently valued at $400 million annually.

Clean, Safely-Delivered Energy Should be California’s Top Priority

By State Senator Mark Leno

One of the biggest challenges we face in securing a sustainable future is finding alternative sources of energy that are affordable, environmentally friendly and safe to deliver to consumers. With an energy industry that is driven by fossil fuel, this is not an easy task to accomplish. But as utility rates continue to increase, so does the public's awareness of where we get our energy.

You, and Your Smart Phone, Have a Right to Privacy

By Mark Leno

If you like to attend political rallies, parades, protests or sit-ins, you might consider leaving your cell phone at home in the unlikely event arrests are made. A recent California Supreme Court decision allows police to rummage through all of the private information on your smart phone as part of an arrest, including your text messages and e-mails. This warrantless search is now legal in California, regardless of whether the information on the phone is relevant to the arrest or if criminal charges are ever filed.

Law enforcement has long had the right to search an arrestee in order to maintain officer safety and avoid destruction of evidence. Generally this included searching their clothing and other incidental items, such as a pack of cigarettes, where weapons or drugs could be hiding. Until now, smart phones were not included in this search.

Industrial Hemp – A Golden Opportunity for California Business

By Mark Leno

If you like shopping at your local natural foods or specialty grocery store, you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of hemp as an ingredient in food and skin care products. Hemp seed, which is high in protein and essential fatty acids, is found in everything from bread, energy bars and waffles to coffee and protein powder. Thanks to its natural antioxidants and moisturizing oil, hemp is also a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and lotions. Perhaps your favorite T-shirt is even made of hemp, which is an excellent alternative to cotton.

Even though most of these consumer products are created by California companies, our farmers are prohibited from growing industrial hemp. Instead of buying hemp from local farmers, local manufacturers are importing thousands of dollars of hemp seed, oil and fiber from growers overseas.

It Gets Better

By State Senator Mark Leno

In recent months, there has been growing attention given to the issue of bullying, following a rash of suicides by young people who were victims of harassment by their peers. In light of these tragic incidents, it is time for us to take a new look at how youth struggle when they become targets of verbal, emotional or physical harassment on school grounds or on the Internet.

In school surveys, nearly half of all high school students say they have been bullied in the past year. Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are at an even higher risk of being harassed. About 85% of LGBT students report that they have been bullied, and shockingly, 20% of them report that they have been physically assaulted. Unfortunately, victims of bullying often become depressed, which can lead to truancy, isolation and low self-esteem. Tragically, some victims are driven to hurt themselves as a last resort to stop the emotional and physical pain.