By SHEL SEGAL
SAN GABRIEL – Providing a tax abatement program for mobile home owners who were unable to transfer title into their names led a list of 10 bills authored by Assembly Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) that were signed into law this past year in the state of California, it was announced on Wednesday morning. Speaking at a press conference at the Hilton San Gabriel Hotel, Chau said recent mobile home purchasers won't be responsible for tax delinquencies that may have been incurred by the property's prior owners.
He added that those owners who owe the taxes will subsequently not be let off the hook.
"The government will still be able to go after the delinquent taxes (holders)," Chau said. "The government is not losing out on those delinquent taxes."
Other bills authored by Chau that were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown had to do with protecting those from credit card fraud and identity theft at the gas pump, making cyber sexual bullying a crime, protecting school-aged children from directly receiving commercial solicitations from for-profit companies as well as protecting the students' identities, modernizing the California Public Records Act and including the teaching of Chinese-American history and contributions in the state educational curriculum, he said.
In regards to gas station credit and identity fraud and theft – also known as "card skimming" – Chau said it is now easier for authorities to report the crime. And Angela Godwin with the Ventura County Sealer's Office, who worked on Chau's bill, said this bill will help the government find skimming devices at gas stations and make it easier to share information and prosecute the offenders.
"We're finding (skimming devices) are becoming more and more sophisticated," she said. "There has been a real rise in these identity-stealing devices. Some are even bluetooth enabled so (criminals) never have to (return to the gas station) to get them. … This bill mandates (examiners) report within 24 hours of finding these devices. The faster these things are found and removed, the less information is taken."
The cyber bullying bill comes in the wake of a Northern California teenager's suicide after she was a victim of cyber sexual bullying, Chau said. The girl's mother, Shelia Pott, said as her daughter was bullied online by a group of students that the her family knew, this new law really spells out what is cyber sexual bullying and what can be done to prevent it and what can be done to punish it.
"I don't think (the students who did the bullying) knew what they were doing were as criminal as it was," Pott said. "They knew it was wrong, but they weren't educated enough to know they were guilty of several crimes."
Sue Ellen Cheng of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance applauded the bill that required the teaching of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and contributions of Chinese Americans to the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the second half of the 19th century. Cheng added she hopes inclusion of Chinese American history in California classrooms will better foster understanding between all cultures.
"In the past we have done a lot of research about the experiences, struggles and hardships of Chinese Americans," she said. "Yet, teachers were not able to use these experiences because they were not included in the curriculum. … It is important to teach students in the curriculum about discrimination in any society. There's a need to respect all peoples of all ethnicities. It's not just to recognize Chinese Americans."
While he said he was proud of all the bills, Chau did say some were easier to get passed through the Legislature than others.
"Of the 10 bills we passed, some of them were a little easier," he said. "For example, the (public records modernization) act was pretty simple. It was pretty much on consensus all the way through. Other bills, we had to work them. I think the cyber bullying bill was the one that had the most hurdles. We experienced different views on how to deal with this particular phenomenon. Of all the 10, that was the most difficult."