Weber’s Economic Opportunity and Consumer Protection Bills Pass First Hurdle
SACRAMENTO - On the Legislature's second day back after recessing for the COVID crisis, two bills authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. (D-San Diego) received the endorsement of Assembly policy committees.
ACA 5 (Opportunity for All)
The Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement passed Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 5 on a 6-1 bi-partisan vote. This bill would give voters the opportunity to revisit Proposition 209, a measure that created roadblocks for women and people of color to share in the state's economic and educational opportunities.
"Businesses owned by women and people of color lose out on over a billion dollars annually because of Proposition 209," Weber said. "As lawmakers, due to this measure, we are prevented from authoring policies that address the specific needs of Black, Latin, API, Native Americans or women, although they suffer from significant inequalities in state contracting, employment, wages, and access to quality education. It's been nearly a quarter of a century since this misguided law was enacted. We owe the voters an opportunity to right this wrong."
The bill is supported by over a hundred labor, civil rights, educational organizations, including the Equal Justice Society, The Education Trust-West, AFSME 3299 and Asian Americans for Affirmative Action. It now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration in the next few weeks.
AB 2443 (Debt Settlement Company Deceptive Practices)
The Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection passed AB 2443, legislation that would ensure that the firms behind “fly-by-night” debt settlement companies are held responsible when consumers are cheated.
The bill would offer protections from predatory prorating companies who are supposed to act as a payment mechanism for the consumer. These proraters set up front companies, take money from consumers with a promise to settle their debts, and instead, pocket the money. The front companies disappear, leaving no legal recourse for the consumer while the proraters are shielded from legal action under current law
Weber noted that there is concern that these companies will now prey on consumers who are financially distressed by the economic effects of the COVID crisis.
"These are vulnerable consumers who are seeking a resolution to their debt," Weber said. "Instead of getting the help they are promised, these companies steal their money and leave them in a worse state financially and legally vulnerable. This bill is aimed to remedy that and provide a legal means of holding these companies accountable.”
Assembly Bill 2443 is sponsored by a number of consumer protection organizations. It will likely be voted on by the full Assembly in early June.