November 2017 District Report
I hope you and your loved ones had a safe and happy Thanksgiving together. Given the devastating wildfires last month, Thanksgiving had an extra special meaning for our family this year.
I am thankful to our heroic firefighters and first responders who worked tirelessly to save lives and homes. Our communities came together in the midst of tragedy to help neighbors in need, showing what makes this such a special place to live. I couldn’t be more thankful to live in our community and have the honor to fight for you in our state’s Capitol. This time of year showcases the charitable spirit of our region and gives us time to reflect on our shared goals to improve our economy, education system, and environment.
Supporting the swift recovery of those impacted by the fires remains my top priority. We are all in this together, and we will recover. In this newsletter, we have wildfire resources, safety tips, information on the state’s unclaimed property program, and I invite you to share your bill ideas. The ideas can range from creating new laws to revising or repealing existing laws.
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:
- Wildfire Recovery & Preparedness Resources
- Be Aware of Identity Theft
- Unclaimed Property – California May Owe You Money
- Submit Your Ideas for Legislation
Senator, 3rd District
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:
- December 11, 2017 – Deadline for survivors to register for FEMA Individual Assistance
- December 18, 2017 – Deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been extended.
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.
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 State of California is trying to return $8 billion to its rightful owners. Is some of it yours?
California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires “holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the State Controller’s Office after there has been no customer contact for three years.
Often the owner forgets that the account exists, moves and does not leave a forwarding address, or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.
To find potential money, visit the State Controller’s Office and search the Unclaimed Property Database for money that the state may owe you!
When filing a claim form, you will need the following documentation:
- A copy of current photo identification for each claimant
- A copy of a Social Security card or a tax identification number for each claimant
- Verification of reported address if different from current address
- Specific documentation relating to the type of property, such as original passbook, cashier’s check, stock certificate, etc.
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.