December 2017 District Report
As 2017 draws to a close, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you and be your advocate in the state Capitol. I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season.
This year we have made meaningful progress in a number of areas. We’ve invested more in education, built our budget reserves, supported small business, and helped protect our environment. However, there is still much work to be done, including recovery from the wildfires. As we look towards the New Year, I will continue fighting for policies that improve our quality of life – now and for future generations.
As always, my office is available to help you with a state agency or answer any questions you might have. You can contact me by visiting my website.
In this Issue:
- Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
- Paying for College - Apply for Aid Now
- Submit Your Ideas for Legislation
- Year-End Legislative Summary
- Wildfire Recovery & Preparedness Resources
Senator, 3rd District
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
California law already includes many protections for consumers; but more is always needed as criminals find new ways to take advantage of the vulnerable.
Last year I passed a new law to help identity theft victims clear their credit quickly and supported numerous measures to stop identity theft. And this year I created a new law to help prevent fraud and identity theft committed by financial institutions. Unfortunately it is impossible to legislate identity theft out of existence, so take steps to protect yourself.
- Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information. Can you choose to have it kept confidential? Request a copy of all company privacy policies for businesses that you have dealings with both on and off line.
- Pay close attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
- Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know who you're dealing with.
If you would like more information on identity theft prevention, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov for information on the latest scams and more tips to avoid fraud.
The application period for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required to access most financial aid, is now open. Paying for college can be difficult, but California has always been a leader in providing eligible students with an affordable college education.
The Cal Grant is a need-based state financial aid program that has been a big part of making college affordable for many California families. Qualified students can receive up to $12,630 in funding to attend almost any college in California – awards vary depending on economic need, grades and the college you attend.
Don't delay! The deadline to apply is March 2. For more information or to file your application, visit the California Student Aid Commission.
Undocumented students meeting certain criteria can apply for student aid through the California Dream Act program.
Additionally, we passed AB 19 last year, creating the California Community College Promise Program to provide tuition-free education at a Community College for one academic year for all first-time, full-time students. Learn more.
Do you have an idea for a new law or a change to existing law that will help our state better serve the public? All constituents are invited to submit ideas and proposals of their own for a new state law.
The law can cover any issue, from something particular in our neighborhoods to something that can improve the quality of life throughout California. Previous ideas submitted to legislators have included laws that have cracked down on misleading advertising, a bill that enables individuals who vote by mail to confirm their ballots were counted, and a measure that created a pilot program to link the state’s community colleges with local chambers of commerce to promote business development and job creation.
What is your idea? If it is the one selected, you may have the opportunity to travel to Sacramento and testify before a Senate Committee on the merits of the bill. Submit your idea online here. Please include as much detail as possible.
While we still have much work to do, I’m proud to have authored legislation that will have a significant impact on people in my district and across California. This year the Legislature passed my bills to protect consumers from fraud, protect our environment, support our military servicemembers, and promote jobs. I also coauthored bills that will help address our housing crisis, expand parks, and invest in water infrastructure.
I will continue to push forward strong public policy that will leave our state a better place for future generations. Here are some other key highlights from this year:
We confronted California’s housing crisis by increasing funding to proven programs for homeless veterans, families, seniors and people with disabilities. The Legislature’s affordable housing package is anchored by the Senate’s proposals to place a $4 billion general obligation bond on the November 2018 ballot, create a permanent funding source for affordable housing and reform regulations to speed up new housing construction.
Over the next decade, California will invest an additional $5.4 billion annually in road, freeway, bridge and transit projects – creating jobs, lowering commute times and making our roads safer. The plan includes accountability measures to ensure the funding cannot be spent on anything but transportation. Learn more.
Not only did we successfully extend the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction program known as Cap and Trade, they led the way with a new plan to retrofit, replace and invest nearly $1 billion in new clean technologies to replace older, dirty diesel engines. The #CACleanAirInitiative is a historic effort to reduce the public health risk from diesel pollution.
Threats of a mass deportation policy by the federal government rallied California to protect our immigrants, who contribute greatly to our culture and economy. We authored a package of legislation to safeguard our people and communities, anchored by the California Values Act, to ensure that state and local resources are not diverted to enforcement of federal immigration laws. Senators also secured $75 million dollars for the One California Program and California’s DREAMers.
Not since 2002 have voters had the opportunity to approve a statewide general obligation bond for parks. We led the way. I co-authored SB 5, placing a $4 billion plan on the June 2018 ballot to address park access, water quality and flood protection. In response to environmental threats from the Trump Administration, Senate Democrats also passed landmark measures to protect science and ensure that California's precious federal lands will always remain in public hands.
This year's budget spends a record amount on K-12 schools, raising per pupil spending to over $11,000 – the highest in California history. We also expanded funding for CalGrants and a program that incentivizes college completion in four years.
WWe passed a new measure that promotes transparency in the health care system by shining a light on the true costs of pharmaceuticals.
We set new standards with laws on equality, including measures to provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity and paternity leave if you work for a small employer; defending and strengthening Title IX standards in California to ensure all schools, colleges and universities implement federal regulations regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention; and passing supporting LGBT residents by respecting their gender identity.
We eliminated dark money from California campaigns. The California Disclose Act makes it easier for voters to identify the top-funders of campaign ads and allows voters the opportunity to make better informed decisions based on honest information.
To learn about services, resources, and financial assistance available to those who have been impacted by the wildfires, please visit www.wildfirerecovery.org. There are also websites set up specifically for Sonoma County and Napa County.
Information includes: FEMA Individual Assistance, Food and Donations, Medical Services, Mental Health & Wellness, Housing, Financial Help, Replacing Vital Documents, Unemployment, Job Resources, Tax Relief, Veterans Benefits, and more. Two important deadlines are approaching:
I have hosted several community meetings across the district to get officials from all levels of government to answer your questions, and you can contact my office if you need assistance.
Update from the Office of Emergency Services
Fire Prevention and Safety Tips
Ensuring you have defensible space, an emergency plan and emergency kit are critical in preparing for wildfire. I urge residents to visit CAL FIRE’s www.readyforwildfire.org, to learn how you can prepare.
Most fires start in the home, which is why it is important for every home to have a smoke detector. Indeed, according to the California Building Code, all residences must have one. They should be installed on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom.
Additionally, you can:
Sign up for Nixle alerts by texting your ZIP CODE to 888777 or sign up online. This app allows government agencies to send messages to local residents via phone, email and web. Information is delivered almost instantly.
Download the Ready for Wildifre app, from CAL FIRE, which includes safety checklists, customized wildfire texts or push notifications, fire maps, and more.