Kevin de León

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Kevin de León
President pro tempore of the California Senate
Assumed office
October 15, 2014
Preceded by Darrell Steinberg
Member of the California Senate
from the 24th district
22nd district (2010–2014)
Assumed office
December 6, 2010
Preceded by Gil Cedillo
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 45th district
In office
December 4, 2006 – December 6, 2010
Preceded by Jackie Goldberg
Succeeded by Gil Cedillo
Personal details
Born Kevin Alexander Leon
(1966-12-10) December 10, 1966 (age 51)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education University of California, Santa Barbara
Pitzer College (BA)
Website Official website

Kevin Alexander Leon[1] (born December 10, 1966), known professionally as Kevin de León, is an American politician who is currently serving in the California State Senate. A Democrat, he is the current Senate President Pro Tempore.

De León represents the 24th Senate District, which encompasses Downtown and East Los Angeles. Before the 2010 redistricting, he represented the 22nd Senate District.

De León was elected Senate President Pro Tempore on June 19, 2014, and was sworn in on October 15, 2014. A member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, he is the first Latino to hold that position in over 130 years.[2] Prior to being elected to the State Senate in 2010, de León served in the California State Assembly, representing the 45th Assembly District.

On October 15, 2017, de León announced his bid to unseat incumbent United States Senator Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election.

Early life[edit]

Kevin de León was born in Los Angeles to Andres Leon and Carmen Osorio, both of whom were born in Guatemala; Andres was of Chinese descent. Both parents had families of their own when Kevin was born. He grew up in the Logan Heights neighborhood in San Diego with his mother.[3]

De León was the first in his family to graduate from high school and attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his degree from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with Honors. He lives in Los Angeles and has one daughter, Lluvia de Milagros, who resides in Los Angeles as an aspiring actress, published author, and entrepreneur.


After years as an educator teaching U.S. citizenship courses, de León became a community organizer, helping plan the largest civil rights march in California history against Proposition 187. On the 20th anniversary of Proposition 187's passage, his Senate Bill 396 erased the California law he set out to challenge in his youth. Following years as an advocate for teachers and public schools with the National Education Association and California Teachers Association, de León ran for a seat in the California state legislature and won.[2]

He is a member of the Alliance for a Better California and the California Teachers Association.[4]

Political career[edit]

De León served four years as an assemblyman for the 45th district that included Hollywood, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Historic Filipinotown, Echo Park, Chinatown, El Sereno, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, Mount Washington, Montecito Heights, Highland Park, Glassell Park and East Los Angeles.

Throughout his legislative career, de León focused much of his efforts on bills affecting the environment, the working poor, immigration and public safety. He was instrumental in last year's passage of a bill providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, and made national headlines in 2012 by proposing a first-of-its-kind, state-run retirement savings plan for low-income workers.[5] He co-chaired Proposition 39 – the California Clean Energy Jobs Act — hoping to create more than 40,000 California jobs, and generate billions of dollars to modernize California schools.

During his eight years representing Los Angeles in the legislature, de León has pressed the concerns of immigrants, low-wage workers, and families suffering from gang violence. He has championed bills that restrict the sale of ammunition, improve energy efficiency in schools, expand urban park space, and require overtime pay for domestic workers. He also fought to ensure revenue from California's landmark law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions be directed towards air, water and other environmental quality projects in low-income neighborhoods.[2]

2018 U.S. Senate election[edit]

2018 Election[edit]

De León is currently running for U.S. Senate to unseat incumbent United States Senator Dianne Feinstein from California.

Political positions[edit]

Energy and the environment[edit]

He is the author of much of California’s renewable energy and environmental protection regulations, which are regarded by environmental groups as exemplary.[6]

Renewable energy and energy efficiency[edit]

SB 350, authored by de León and signed into law in 2015, mandates that utilities in California purchase 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 50% from renewable sources by 2030.[7] According to the California Energy Commission, California is already on track to meet these goals, with 27% of energy in 2016 purchased from renewable sources.[8]

In 2012, he co-chaired the successful Proposition 39 campaign closing a corporate-tax loophole and creating a $2.5 billion revenue fund for energy-efficiency upgrades in schools.[9]

In the 2017-2018 session, de León sponsored SB 100, which accelerates the targets of SB 350 to at least 50% renewable electricity by 2026 and 100% renewable electricity by 2045.[10][11]

Preventing pollution[edit]

In 2012, de León's SB 535 was signed into law, requiring the California Air Resources Board to spend at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade revenue to benefit low-income communities across California that are disproportionately impacted by pollution.[12] In 2014, de León’s Charge Ahead California Act created a rebate initiative to make electric cars more accessible to working families and to put at least 1 million electric cars on California roads by 2023.[13][14]

In 2017, de León introduced the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017, which mandates that California enforce air, water, endangered species, and worker protection standards no less stringent than those that existed at a federal level on January 1, 2017.[15]


As an assembly member in 2008, de León authored the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Act of 2008, which invested $400 million in 127 parks in park-poor neighborhoods across the state, earning praise for using funds more efficiently than the state’s other park initiatives.[16][17]

Gun control[edit]

De León is an advocate of gun control. In February 2008, as an Assemblyman, de León introduced AB 2062 regulating sales of handgun ammunition; the bill passed the Assembly but died in the Senate.[18] In December 2012, de León introduced SB 53, proposing stricter gun control by requiring ammunition buyer permits and face-to-face ammunition sales only at licensed dealers. The bill did not make it out of the legislature.[19]

De León was the sponsor and author of AB 962, a measure requiring thumbprints from ammunition purchasers,[20] later signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. The bill was struck down as too vague by Fresno Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton on January 18, 2011, in Parker v. California.[21][22]

In 2014, de León sponsored SB 808 [23] which passed both Houses of the Legislature and was vetoed by the Governor. De León was rightly criticized for a press conference in support of the bill in which he made several mistakes with gun vocabulary in addition to making false claims about the rate of fire of a rifle he was discussing. During a press conference, he referred to an AR-15 style rifle as having a ".30 caliber magazine clip".[24]

In 2016, de León led the charge in the passage of a package of eleven bills intended to prevent gun violence. These included de León's SB 1235, which created a new framework for purchasing and selling ammunition designed to address the ambiguities of his earlier SB 53, and his SB 1407, requiring a serial number from the Department of Justice before building or assembling a gun.[25][26]

De León has also criticized NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.[27]

Affirmative consent[edit]

De León was the sponsor and co-author (with State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson), requiring colleges in California, in order to receive state funds for student financial assistance, to adopt an "affirmative consent standard" and prohibits various affirmative defenses, including prohibiting specified factors that may negate an accused's mens rea (for example testing the question of intention in a crime), in college disciplinary proceedings involving allegations of sexual misconduct.[28] Senator Leon wrote (along with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson) that, although "In a court of law, due process is necessary to protect the accused’s liberty," prosecutors too often are unable to gather enough evidence to prosecute offenders.[29] They continue, by stating that their "Yes Means Yes" legislation deals with an administrative adjudication process to ensure that students abide by the code of conduct, and thus is "a fairer process." [29]

Personal life[edit]

In testimony provided before the California Senate's Public Safety Committee, de León stated that "half of my family" is residing in the United States without documented status:

"…I can tell you half of my family would be eligible for deportation under [President Donald Trump’s] executive order, because if they got a false Social Security card, if they got a false identification, if they got a false driver’s license prior to us passing AB60 (a law said to make California a 'sanctuary state'), if they got a false green card, and anyone who has family members, you know, who are undocumented knows that almost entirely everybody has secured some sort of false identification. That’s what you need to survive, to work. They are eligible for massive deportation."[30]

De León clarified that he was not referring to his family in the present, adding that since they arrived in the U.S. years ago many have become legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens. “As a result, they have had U.S.-born kids,” he said.[31] He felt compelled to speak about his family’s experiences because they aren’t unique. “There (are) so many undocumented immigrants working behind counters, (as) nannies, working in factories,” he said.[31]


  1. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (February 21, 2017). "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de León". Sacbee. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". November 3, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin de Leon". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  4. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Setback put Kevin "Ghost Gun" de León on the path to Senate leadership". Los Angeles Times. June 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ "California leads fight to curb climate change". Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act (SB 350) Overview". California Energy Commission. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Tracking Renewable Energy Progress - Dec 2016" (PDF). California Energy Commission. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Joint Statement from Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Proposition 39 Co-Chair Tom Steyer". Senate District 24. 
  10. ^ Megerian, Chris (May 2, 2017). "California Senate leader unveils new proposal to phase out use of fossil fuels to generate electricity". LA Times. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  11. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-100 Energy policies and programs". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  12. ^ "California Climate Investments to Benefit Disadvantaged Communities". California Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  13. ^ Ayre, James. "SB 1275 Passes — Californian Senate Moves To Accelerate EV Adoption". Clean Technica. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  14. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-1275 Vehicle retirement and replacement: Charge Ahead California Initiative". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  15. ^ De Leon, Kevin. "SB-49 California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2017". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  16. ^ Christensen, Jon. "UCLA faculty voice: A smarter way to pay for parks". UCLA Newsroom. UCLA. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  17. ^ "127 Park Projects" (PDF). Senate District 24. Retrieved May 5, 2017. 
  18. ^ "State Assembly Narrowly Approves Legislation to Require Handgun Ammunition Dealers to be Licensed". May 30, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2013. [permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Bill Text - SB-53 Ammunition: purchase permits". Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  20. ^ De León, Kevin. "AB-962 Ammunition". California Legislative Information. California State Senate. Retrieved May 6, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Parker vs. California: Decision" (PDF). Michel and Associates, P.C. 
  22. ^ "Parker vs. California: Ammo Bill Defeated in Court". Gun Owners of California. Retrieved May 6, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Bill Text - SB-808 Firearms: identifying information". Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Anti-Gun Senator Is Being Mocked Relentlessly After He Warned of '30 Magazine Clips' in Embarrassing Video". January 21, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  25. ^ Cadelago, Chris (June 20, 2016). "California lawmakers send sweeping gun package to Jerry Brown". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 6, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Senate Passes Sweeping Set of Bills to Prevent Gun Violence". Senate District 24. 
  27. ^ "State Sen. Kevin de Leon talks gun control and the NRA". Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Bill Text - SB-967 Student safety: sexual assault". Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  29. ^ a b de Leon, Kevin (October 13, 2015). "Why we made 'Yes Means Yes' California law". The Washington Post. Fred Ryan. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Senate Leader: 'Half Of My Family' Eligible For Deportation Under Trump Order". Retrieved February 8, 2017. 
  31. ^ a b "The untold story of how Kevin Leon became Kevin Leon". Retrieved August 31, 2017. 

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