Davis signs identity theft, predatory lending, tuition bills
SACRAMENTO (AP) – Bills to help protect consumers against identity theft crimes and so-called predatory lending were signed into law Thursday by Gov. Gray Davis.
The Democratic governor also approved a bill that will cut the public university and college tuition paid by immigrant students who graduate from California high schools.
The identity theft bill, by Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, will allow consumers to control access to their credit reports to prevent that information from being tapped by criminals to make purchases and get loans.
The measure will also bar businesses from including a consumer’s Social Security number on identification cards and on bank statements and other documents sent through the mail, to prevent that information from being used by identity thieves.
”This gives people the control they need to hang onto something they never thought they’d lose – their good names,” said Bowen.
The lending bill, by Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, is aimed at lending practices that make it difficult for low-income consumers to pay off home equity loans or mortgage refinances.
The measure’s protections include barring a lender from basing a loan strictly on the amount of equity rather than on the borrower’s ability to pay, outlawing some balloon payments and barring refinancing a loan if it does not result in a clear benefit to the consumer.
The protections apply to a mortgage or a deed of trust with a loan balance of no more than $250,000 and are triggered if interest rates or points and fees exceed certain levels.
Norma Garcia, senior attorney for Consumers Union, said the new law is ”an important first step toward protecting the most vulnerable targeted by predatory lenders.”
Davis also signed a bill by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Los Angeles, that will allow immigrants who go to a California high school for at least three years and graduate to pay the same tuition at public California colleges and universities as California citizens.
Immigrants now pay the same amount as out-of-state students, which at the University of California totaled more than $10,000 this year instead of the state resident rate of $3,964, Firebaugh said.
Rini Chakraborty of the California Immigrant Welfare Collaborative said the bill would help ensure that ”valedictorians end up in colleges, not sweatshops.”
Davis also signed bills that will:
– Allow the state Board of Education to delay implementation of the state’s high school graduation exam if it decides the test or classroom instruction does not meet standards. Currently the test is mandatory for the graduating class of 2004. The bill will also bar ninth graders from taking the exam. They can now take it voluntarily.
– Authorize $2 million state grants to help establish 10 high-tech high schools that will emphasize studies in math, science, engineering, digital arts and media.
– Expand the state’s STAR school testing program, including adding a test in science and social science in the upper elementary grades.
– Authorize $15 million to provide leadership training for 5,000 school principals and vice principals a year.
– Require credit card companies to advise consumers on how much time it will take to pay off credit card balances if they make minimum monthly payments.
– Bar satellite television companies from selling or sharing information about a customer’s viewing habits without written permission from the customer. The same requirements are already in place for cable television companies.
– Require new schools to have automated fire detection, alarm and sprinkler systems.
– Make it clear that state agencies must make their programs and activities accessible to the disabled and bar the Department of Motor Vehicles from charging a fee for permanent parking placards for the disabled. A federal appeals court ruled that those fees violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.
– Provide $2 million in aid to 10 domestic violence shelters that did not receive funding in the current state budget, in some cases because they did not double-space their applications.
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