The California Low-Income Consumer Coalition strives to ensure that all people, regardless of their income or background, have opportunities under the law to achieve their full potential.
Every year, dozens of bills are introduced in the California Legislature that touch on issues affecting low-income consumers, including access to credit, arbitration, auto lending, bankruptcy, car rentals, debt collection, foreclosures, identity theft, medical bills, payday lending, student loans, towing, and utility services. Consumer bills often disproportionately affect low-income Californians, and, in particular, communities of color, who are more likely to enter the marketplace hampered by a lack of financial resources, language access issues, and a history of discrimination. As a result, many of the indigent are easy prey for the unscrupulous.
It is CLICC’s mission to right the balance. We seek to ensure that all consumers in California have their voices heard, and their needs recognized, by the Legislature. Low-income Californians ought to be able both to access the protections of California law and to grasp the opportunities of California’s economy. To that end, we work to build a state, and a future, in which consumer rights and economic justice are fully recognized and firmly established.
CLICC is led by Ted Mermin, Interim Director of the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice, Executive Director of the Public Good Law Center, and former California Deputy Attorney General. Ted currently serves as outside counsel to the East Bay Community Law Center and teaches Consumer Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law. For several years, Ted gathered organizations serving low-income consumers in California into informal legislative coalitions that collectively managed to pass the bills that they proposed. Those successes include SB 233 (2013), the Fair Debt Buying Practices Act; AB 2365 (2014), barring attempts by retailers to prevent consumers from criticizing them or their products (the model for the federal Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2016); SB 641 (2015), extending consumers’ ability to reopen improper default judgments; SB 501 (2015), placing restrictions on wage garnishment of low-income workers; and AB 2819 (2016), restricting release of court records in eviction suits to cases in which tenants are actually evicted. A brief biography is available here.
Danielle is the Chief Operating Officer and a founding partner of Corbin and Kaiser. She is a seasoned professional specializing in governmental advocacy, marketing, proposal writing, and copywriting that earn her client’s recognition and contracts. She has more than two decades of experience in creating print and social media advocacy, and marketing campaigns for the state’s leading governmental agencies, commissions, trade associations, political organizations, and the nation’s top luxury brands.
Danielle has played a major role in numerous state and national advocacy, marketing, public relations, and communications campaigns. From 2014 through 2016, she led the organization and direction of monthly, state-wide meetings of the Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality, chaired by Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate. The work of the Commission focused on public health issues affecting the poor and homeless populations of California, including disability, and mental and behavioral support services, access to affordable housing, appropriate nutrition, early childhood health and wellness, climate change, and access to quality childcare and education.
Samantha Ayres Corbin
Samantha is the CEO and founding partner of Corbin and Kaiser – a woman-owned public affairs and strategic development firm serving not-for-profit, government, and cause-based organizations through government relations, coalition building, fund development, and public relations. Corbin and Kaiser has managed national organizational expansions, procured over $700 million in funding for education and public interest programs, and has led clients and coalitions to victory in front of the legislature.
A dogged advocate on consumer privacy and protection issues, Samantha co-led the effort to pass SB178 (Leno), CalECPA with the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to establish a warrant requirement for digital content. Most recently, she played a significant role in the passage of the California Privacy Act and the passage of Net Neutrality protections in California.
Founded in 1974, the mission of Bet Tzedek (Hebrew for “House of Justice”) is to act upon a central tenet of Jewish law and tradition: “Tzedek, Tzedek, tirdof—justice, justice, you shall pursue.” The doctrine establishes an obligation to advocate the just causes of the most vulnerable members of society. Consistent with this mandate, Bet Tzedek provides free legal assistance to eligible low-income residents, particularly in Los Angeles County, regardless of their racial, religious, or ethnic background.
Centro Legal De La Raza
Founded in 1969, Centro Legal de la Raza is a comprehensive legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income, and Latino communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy. By combining quality legal services with know-your-rights education and youth development, Centro Legal promotes access to justice for thousands of individuals and families each year throughout Northern and Central California.
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Founded in 1969, Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) provides legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Practice areas include housing, immigration, and economic advancement. CLSEPA provide legal assistance and advice to over 6,000 community members per year. Volunteer attorneys, paralegals, law students, and community volunteers work with staff members to provide life-changing legal services to residents in need.
Elder Law & Advocacy
Elder Law & Advocacy is a caring group of experienced elder-law staff and trained volunteers who serve over 8,000 seniors annually in both San Diego and Imperial Counties. We provide free and low-cost civil legal services, Medicare and Medicare related counseling and advocacy, referrals to community senior service providers, and community education. The majority of services are offered at no-cost to qualifying seniors.
La Raza Centro Legal
La Raza Centro Legal, San Francisco Advocacy is a multicultural community social justice center based in the Mission District of San Francisco. Born out of the civil rights and Chicano movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Centro Legal was founded in 1973 by Latino law students to fill a gap in the availability of economically and culturally accessible legal services for the Bay Area’s Latino population. Since our founding, we have established a reputation of credibility in the community: as a source of trustworthy legal advice and referrals, as a place where clients will be treated with dignity and respect and where they will find advocates willing to fight for them and with them.
Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino
Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino, a non-profit, has provided free legal services to the neediest residents of this county for over 50 years. Our mission is to strengthen communities by providing access to the judicial system by providing legal education, counsel, and advocacy services for those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Our vision is a society where poverty does not inhibit justice; a society where all people have equitable access to justice, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, personal traits, or affiliations.
Legal Aid of Marin
Legal Aid of Marin's mission is to provide access to the civil justice system to low-income, vulnerable and otherwise underserved residents of Marin County. We strive for practical solutions to client problems through quality legal service. Areas of focus include: elder law; debt law; employment law; and housing law.
Public Counsel is the largest pro bono law firm in the nation. Founded in 1970 in Los Angeles, its 71 attorneys and 50 support staff—along with over 5,000 volunteer lawyers, law students, and legal professionals—assist more than 30,000 individuals, families, and community organizations every year. Our projects focus on the needs of those living at or near the poverty level in such areas as Education, Children’s Rights, Immigration, Veterans, Community Development, and Homelessness. The Consumer Law Project is one of Public Counsel’s original projects. From its inception it has assisted thousands of low-income homeowners, students, and consumers in resolving claims of unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentations, and a wide range of issues involving fairness in the marketplace.
Public Law Center
The Public Law Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, provides free legal services to low-income residents of Orange County. Annually, over 8,000 of the most vulnerable residents of Orange County, including immigrants, minorities, veterans, seniors, and children, receive services from PLC's staff and volunteers. Our work includes counseling, individual representation, community education and strategic policy advocacy and impact litigation to challenge societal injustices, and we practice in the areas of domestic violence, human trafficking, guardianship, housing, health, bankruptcy, asylum, family law, consumer fraud, immigration, and discrimination. PLC's Consumer Law Unit works on a variety of issues, including debt collection defense, identity theft, bankruptcy, student loans, auto fraud and predatory lending.
Riverside Legal Aid
Riverside Legal Aid, a dba of the Public Services Law Corporation of the Riverside County Bar Association, provides pro se litigants with legal services, education and counselling. Services are limited to low income residents of Riverside County and are provided at offices in the cities of Riverside and Indio as well as in-court services in both cities and at the courthouse in Temecula. Areas of practice include, but are not limited to Family Law, Probate, Guardianships, Conservatorships, Unlawful Detainers, Bankruptcy and civil litigation in State and Federal courts.
Corbin & Kaiser
Corbin & Kaiser is a Sacramento-based firm serving not-for-profit, government, and cause-based organizations through government relations, coalition building, fund development, and public relations. Joint partners Samantha Corbin and Danielle Kando-Kaiser have managed national organizational expansions, procured over $700 million in funding for education and public interest programs, and have led clients and coalitions to victory in front of the legislature. We take our clients from planning to action — and success.
Positions On Past Bills
California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009.
Status: Presented to the Governor
Dept. of Financial Protection & Innovation Support.
Status: To Engrossing and Enrolling
2023 Sponsored Legislation
2021-2022 Sponsored Legislation
AB 1405 (Wicks): Debt Settlement
Positions On Past Bills
(Davies & Quirk-Silva)
Postsecondary education: Title 38 awards
Status: Signed 9/17/22
Property Assessed Clean Energy program: wildfire safety improvements
Department of Financial Protection and Innovation: unlawful practices
Status: Signed 8/26/22
California Financing Law: Pilot Program for increased access to responsible small-dollar loand
(Newman & Wieckowski)
Personal income tax: deductions: consumer protection violations
Enforcement of judgments: wage garnishment and child support
Status: Signed 9/29/22
Past Sponsored Bills
Senate Bills 199 and 355 (2022)
SB 355 expands eligibility for initial court filing-fee waivers and alters the calculation to determine income-based eligibility for such waivers. SB 199 incorporates these provisions into the Budget Act of 2021.
Status: Allocation added to Budget Bill 7/6/22.
Senate Bill 1324 (2022)
The Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Rosenthal) establishes a set of basic norms that debt collectors must adhere to when going about their work. Without excusing anyone from paying what they rightly owe, Rosenthal requires debt collectors to treat debtors civilly and honestly throughout the process. It prohibits things like threatening debtors, trying to trick them, humiliating them in front of others, or calling them up repeatedly in the middle of the night to demand payment. Unpaid rent is a form of debt, but because it does not originate through the extension of credit, there is some controversy about whether Rosenthal applies to landlords when they are collecting rent. SB 1324 , authored by Sen. Durazo, would clarify that it does.
Senate Bill 476 (2021)
SB 476, authored by Senator Min, prohibits a PACE program administrator from executing an assessment contract unless the associated property has undergone an energy audit, as specified. Prohibits a PACE program administrator from disbursing funds to a PACE solicitor or PACE solicitor agent without specified proof of project completion.
Senate Bill 633 (2021)
SB 633, authored by Senator Limón, provides that, for certain types of consumer contracts, where the tradesperson or business knows or has reason to know that a co-signer or guarantor is not proficient in English, the tradesperson or business must provide a translated notice in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean, as translated and made available by the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency..
Status: Signed 8/15/22.
Assembly Bill 430 (2021)
Assembly Bill 790 (2021)
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs allow property owners to quickly finance certain improvements (energy and water efficiency enhancements; wildfire hardening; seismic safety) upfront and then repay the cost of those improvements through increased property tax assessments over a 10, 15, or 20-year period. PACE assessments are secured by a super priority lien on the property that has the status of a tax lien; accordingly, failure to repay the increased property taxes associated with PACE will eventually lead to the foreclosure sale of the property.
Senior citizens have been targeted by various forms of PACE fraud that place them at risk of losing their homes. Existing legal frameworks in California have made it difficult to hold the parties liable that profit from this fraud, particularly program administrators. A provision of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act was enacted in the mid-nineties to curtail home improvement scams targeted at seniors. AB 790, authored by Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, would amend that provision so that it clearly applies to PACE fraud, and can be used to hold program administrators liable for their involvement in these schemes.
Status: Signed 10/6/21.
Assembly Bill 874 (2021)
AB 874, authored by Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, creates a grant program, to be administered by the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), to provide eligible property owners with a PACE assessment financial assistance.
Assembly Bill 1405 (2021)
Consumers who owe multiple debts that they cannot pay often seek assistance from debt settlement providers: businesses that promise to negotiate with creditors to reduce consumers’ debt balances. These negotiations are meant to yield affordable payment plans under which the consumer makes regular payments to creditors to satisfy the negotiated settlement amounts, together with fees paid to the debt settlement provider for its efforts on the consumer’s behalf. In many cases, debt settlement services leave consumers worse off than they would have been if they had not enrolled in a debt settlement program in the first place.
AB 1405, authored by Assemblymember Wicks, would enact several consumer protections targeted at abusive debt settlement providers
Status: Signed 10/4/21.
Assembly Bill 2443 (2020)
Amends the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act to improve regulation of and enforcement against unfair and deceptive actors in the debt settlement industry. Consumers in California all too frequently fall victim to the unrealistic and impossible promises offered in the online, direct mail, and radio advertisements of unlicensed debt settlement companies that target people at their most vulnerable. In a time of widespread unemployment and financial hardship, Californians desperately need protection from predatory companies promising imaginary "debt relief". AB 2443 provides a remedy.
Assembly Bill 2463 (2020)
Prevents judgment creditors from foreclosing on homes for an unsecured consumer debt. Low-income homeowners around California are being sued by creditors for small credit card debts, then finding themselves threatened with foreclosure and loss of their homes. Existing law allows judgment creditors to use foreclosure as a debt collection option, even if the debt is for just a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars. Until recently, few debt collectors pursued this draconian tactic. But now, with debts and financial insecurity mounting, it is spreading. AB 2463 prevents foreclosure and keeps people in their homes.
Status: Signed by Governor.
Assembly Bill 2524 (2020)
Enhances regulation of unfair and deceptive actors in the debt settlement industry. With the pandemic and financial crisis driving Californians deeper into debt, the last thing we need is an unregulated industry promising "debt relief" but delivering only broken promises, ruined credit, and even greater indebtedness. AB 2524 provides guardrails on an industry that badly needs them.
Status: Signed by Governor.
Assembly Bill 3254 (2020)
Provides significant protection from fraud by requiring that non-English-speaking cosigners, who are often seniors, be given a copy of the contract in the language that they speak. The bill closes a loophole in current law by protecting Californians who don't read English but are called on to guarantee contracts. Too often, even though they are liable under the contract, co-signers have no knowledge of what they have agreed to. This bill provides that if cosigners speak Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, they will be given a contract in that language unless they supply their own disinterested interpreter. AB 3254 prevents fraud, misrepresentation, and lasting financial harm.
Status: Signed by Governor.
Senate Bill 616 (2019)
Senate Bill 616, authored by Senator Wieckowski and sponsored by CLICC and the East Bay Community Law Center, will reform the bank levy system for low-income California debtors. When a creditor attempts to collect debts owed by a borrower, they can get a court to automatically take money out of the borrower's paycheck, called a wage garnishment, or they can simply convince a court to seize money directly from a debtor's bank account, called a bank levy. When a creditor garnishes your wages, they can only take up to 25% of your earnings—the law says you need the rest to live. But when it comes to savings and bank levies, current California law allows creditors to seize 100% of the funds in a debtor's bank account with little or no warning; this can leave people without enough money to pay for life's most essential needs such as food, rent, and prescription medications. Senate Bill 616 will protect $2000, enough to cover life's essential needs for a few months, from being seized by a creditor who levies a bank account. For seasonal workers like farmworkers or substitute teachers, this law could make the difference between stability and homelessness, or between health and hunger.
Status: Signed by the Governor.
Senate Bill 318 (2019)
Senate Bill 318, authored by Senator Hertzberg and co-sponsored by CLICC, will not change existing law. Instead, it will clarify definitions in consumer protection laws to explicitly include for-profit bail bond companies. Currently, these companies behave as though consumer protection laws do not apply to them. This bill will add language to existing laws to specify
that bail bondsmen are not exempt. Consumers of commercial bail services, that is, people in stressful situations who can’t afford to pay bail out of pocket and are therefore particularly susceptible to exploitation, deserve the same protections afforded to other consumers, and Senate Bill 318 ensures the law does not leave them out.
Status: Failed passage in Assembly Insurance Committee.
Assembly Bill 2063 (2018)
AB 2063 ensures that a program administrator cannot execute an assessment or home improvement contract, or start work on that home improvement contract that is financed by an assessment contract, unless and until the program administrator determines that the property owner has the ability to pay the annual payment obligations for the PACE assessment. This change in the timing of the formation of PACE contracts – conducting the underwriting before the homeowner signs the home improvement and financing contracts – is something that CLICC and its allies had sought for the past two years.
Status: AB 2063, for which CLICC served as lead witness and key supporter, was signed by Governor Brown on September 27th, 2018.
Senate Bill 818 (2018)
SB 818 (Homeowners Bill of Rights) prevents dual tracking while also facilitating a process for struggling homeowners to work with their lenders. The Homeowners Bill of Rights (HBOR, 2012) amended California foreclosure procedures to ensure that a homeowner who experiences a financial hardship—such as a lost job or a death in the family—has a meaningful opportunity to be considered for all available alternatives to foreclosure before losing her home. Several key provisions of HBOR sunsetted at the end of 2017. This bill revives those provisions and makes them permanent. CLICC was a lead supporter of the bill and a key witness in committee hearings.
Status: This critical bill was signed by Governor Brown on September 14th, 2018.
Assembly Bill 1690 (2017)
Assembly Bill 1690, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone and co-sponsored by CLICC, prohibits defendants from inquiring into a person's immigration status when s/he brings a claim to enforce state consumer protection or housing laws.
Prior to the passage of AB 1690, which took effect January 1, 2018, some businesses argued that even though they had violated various consumer protection or housing statutes, they should not be held responsible if the person suing them was an undocumented immigrant. In reality, they hoped simply to scare plaintiffs into dropping legitimate claims. CLICC argued that allowing defendants to ask about plaintiffs' immigration status would prevent valid lawsuits from being pursued and would allow wrongs to go unrighted.
By ensuring that all California residents are protected by the same laws, AB 1690 underscores California's commitment to true equality under the law.