December 2016 - District Report
A Message from Bill Dodd
As 2016 draws to a close, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you and be your advocate in the state Capitol. This month I was sworn in to represent our Senate district in Sacramento, and I introduced a new bill to protect consumers from fraud.
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. As we look towards the New Year, I will continue fighting for policies that improve our quality of life – now and for future generations.
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 or calling one of my offices.
In this Issue:
- Consumer Protection Bill Introduced
- Be Aware of Identity Theft
- Paying for College – Apply for Aid Now
- Senate Fellowship Program
- There Ought to be a Law – Submit Your Ideas for Legislation
Senator, 3rd District
I recently introduced new legislation to protect victims of mass fraud and identity theft. The introduction of this legislation comes following the recent Wells Fargo scandal where millions of accounts were fraudulently opened without consent, using consumer’s personal information from existing accounts. Dodd’s bill would help victims by eliminating the use of forced arbitration clauses in contracts that were fraudulently created. Such contracts prevent consumers from having their day in court to recover damages.
It’s unacceptable for consumers to be blocked from our public courts to recover damages for fraud and identity theft. Allowing victims their day in court not only allows them to recover, it can prevent more victims by putting an end to illegal business practices. With quick federal action on this issue unlikely, it’s critical that California lead the nation to prevent these abuses. Click here to learn more about the bill.
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.
This year I passed a new law to help identity theft victims clear their credit quickly and supported numerous measures to stop identity theft. 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 and the Middle Class Scholarship are two great state programs to help California families afford college:
Cal Grant, a need-based state financial aid program, has been a big part of making college affordable for many California families. Qualified students can receive up to $12,192 in funding to attend almost any college in California – awards vary depending on economic need, grades and the college you attend.
The Middle Class Scholarship Act is a newer program for students who do not qualify for Cal Grants but are still priced out of college. It offers sliding-scale discounts of up to 40 percent for families who earn $150,000 or less and don't qualify for Cal Grants, which support lower-income students.
Students apply just as they would for a federal loan or a Cal Grant, by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 2. They must also have a C average.
Don't delay! You may apply starting October 1, and the deadline to apply is March 2.
For more information and assistance with your application, please visit the California Student Aid Comission website.
Established in 1973, the California Senate Fellows (CSF) program is one of the oldest and most distinguished service learning programs in the country. The CSF program grew out of a desire to provide people with insight into the legislative process through experiential learning.
It offers college graduates a paid, full-time legislative staff position in the State Capitol for 11 months. The fellowship program's primary goals include exposing people with diverse life experiences and backgrounds to the legislative process by providing research and other professional staff assistance to the Senate. The CSF program is jointly sponsored by the California State Senate and the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento.
To learn more or to apply, please click here.
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. You can submit your ideas online by clicking here. Please include as much detail as possible.