DCA WELCOMES A NEW DIRECTOR

Dean Grafilo has been appointed by Governor Brown to serve as director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), effective March 20.

This is somewhat of a homecoming for Dean as he served as a commissioner on DCA’s California State Athletic Commission prior to accepting his most recent post with the Office of California State Assembly member Rob Bonta, where he served as chief of staff since 2012.

Mr. Grafilo’s long career in state government will be a welcomed asset as he guides DCA forward.

On behalf of everyone at DCA, welcome Director Grafilo!

DCA’s Leadership Team

 

BPELSG Celebrates National Surveyors Week March 19 – 25, 2017

What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln have in common besides having the distinction of being Presidents of the United States?

Photo Credit: National Park Service

All three worked as land surveyors before their political careers began.  This is why Mount Rushmore National Memorial is commonly referred to as “Three surveyors and the other guy.”

Surveying was not a bad skill for a future president to possess because as the early United States continued to take form, the development of boundaries was essential to the growth and expansion of the nation.  Anyone interested in claiming rights to physical property, land specifically, depended on the skills of a surveyor.

Fast-forward to present day.  If you’ve ever used a physical map or relied on GPS for assistance in finding anything, whether traveling by land, air or sea, then you have a surveyor to thank.

The National Society of Professional Surveyors has designated the week of March 19-25, 2017 as National Surveyors Week. 

This week recognizes industry professionals and increases awareness with the public, students and future surveyors about this centuries-old profession.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, licenses professional land surveyors.

Surveyor specialties vary from hydrographic surveyors, who measure the depth and bottom configuration of bodies of water, to cartographic surveyors, who use photogrammetry (the science of aerial photographs) for measurements and map production.

The Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the California land surveying community encourage industry members and partner organizations to use this week-long celebration as an opportunity to engage with their local communities, and promote the array of career opportunities available in the surveying profession.

For more information about surveying and obtaining a license as a professional land surveyor, visit the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists website at www.bpelsg.ca.gov.

 

DCA is Here to Help All Year Long

Just because National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) has ended doesn’t mean you aren’t protected. As #NCPW2017 wraps up, DCA wants to remind consumers that our resources and programs are available any time of year. This past week, we’ve shared details on many of them.

An informed consumer is a protected consumer: consider yourself empowered! Learn more at www.dca.ca.gov.

Also, see our complete list of free publications at www.dca.ca.gov/publications/publications_list.shtml, subscribe to our award-winning magazine, Consumer Connection, and follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @DCAnews.

State Cannabis Regulators Announce Application Deadline for Advisory Committee

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) has just announced the deadline of March 17, 2017, for submitting Cannabis Advisory Committee applications.

This committee will advise the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and the other two licensing authorities—the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety—on the development of cannabis regulations that protect public health and safety, while ensuring a regulated market that helps reduce the illicit market for cannabis.

Committee members will be selected by and will serve at the pleasure of the director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The committee will consist of representatives from diverse backgrounds, including the cannabis industry, labor, state and local agencies, public health experts, representatives from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control who have expertise in regulating intoxicating substances for adult use, individuals with expertise in the medicinal properties of cannabis, and representatives from communities who have been disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policy, among others.

Those interested in serving on the committee can access the online application here: bmcr.ca.gov/about_us/documents/commitee_application.pdf

For additional information about BMCR or to subscribe to their email alerts, visit the BMCR website: bmcr.ca.gov/

Dream Big During National Engineers Week February 19-25, 2017

engineers-week-logo

Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about the many ways engineering is relevant to your life?  Engineers Dream Big and their dreams become our reality.

The field of engineering has helped to shape our world on a daily basis and it affects how we live, work and play by making our lives comfortable, interesting and even fun.

National Engineers Week is February 19 – 25, 2017, and acknowledges the contributions of engineers nationwide.  Engineers Week is now referred to as EWeek and was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951.  EWeek was developed to foster interest in the countless ways that the field of engineering helps shape our world.

national-engineers-week

The theme for 2017 is “Dream Big” and it is designed to raise awareness of the many ways the industry contributes to our daily lives to foster interest in generations of future engineers.  EWeek encourages industry members and partner organizations to engage with their local communities using suggested programs and exercises to promote the array of career opportunities in engineering and technology disciplines.  EWeek demonstrates that there are opportunities available to all, regardless of sex, ethnic or socio-economic background.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, through the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, licenses 20 professional engineering categories ranging from agricultural engineers who help crops grow bigger and stronger, to civil engineers who design the roads and bridges we travel on every day.

Imagination and design are factors that enable engineers to create many of the necessities that we take for granted. The industry is vast and it even influences our entertainment options by designing some of our favorite rides at amusement parks or creating the awesome special effects in television and feature films.  These are but merely a small example of the types of products and services we depend upon that engineers helped develop.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, along with the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists is proud to recognize these professionals for their commitment to improving our lives and the engineering industry.

Learning to Box May Help Knock Out Parkinson’s Disease

Photo Credit - Rock Steady Boxing

Photo Credit – Rock Steady Boxing

Some people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) have discovered an alternate form of therapy to improve their symptoms—boxing!  Not the Ali or Tyson type of boxing—we’re talking about fitness boxing.

Photo Credit - Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Photo Credit – Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal via AP

Though not a cure for Parkinson’s, non-combat fitness boxing is being recognized by many in the medical community as an alternate form of rehabilitation for the disease.  According to a case report by the American Physical Therapy Association, patients showed short-term and long-term improvements in balance, gait, activities of daily living, and quality of life after participating in a fitness boxing training program.  As a result, many people with varying stages of PD are looking to
fitness boxing as a means to improve their quality of life while living with the disease.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, PD is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects approximately one million Americans. The disease is characterized most notably by tremors, stiffness, softening or slurring of speech, slowing of movement, and instability.

The theory behind boxing as a form of therapy for PD began when Scott C. Newman, a former Indianapolis attorney, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 40. A few years after his diagnosis, Newman began intense, one-on-one, non-contact boxing workouts at the suggestion of a friend.

“After six weeks of intense boxing training, I could sign my name again. I was getting better,” Newman said during an interview in a December 2016 segment of HBO’s “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.”

Newman says he experienced dramatic improvement in his physical health, agility, and daily functioning from his workout routine and, ultimately, his quality of life improved.

Photo Credit - Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

Photo Credit – Sue Cockrell Enterprise photo

After experiencing his own positive results, Newman opened the first non-contact boxing gym in 2006 in his home town of Indianapolis, IN, that offered a workout program dedicated to people with PD.

Classes are separated into four levels depending on the patient’s stage of PD.  Patients share a common denominator inside of a supportive environment, which allows them to work on strength, balance and hand/eye coordination.  A combination of classic boxing moves and exercises choreographed to music is used.

Photo Credit - Luther Life Villages

Photo Credit – Luther Life Villages

To help combat the vocal challenges often faced by PD patients, fighters are encouraged to count out exercises aloud with the instructor. The louder they count the better. Cheering and yelling is also encouraged, not only to improve voice activation, but to boost morale and lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety, two symptoms commonly associated with PD.

Nationwide, thousands of PD patients have been introduced to fitness boxing as an option to assist them with managing their disease. Medical experts acknowledge that fitness boxing may not be for everyone and before considering a new exercise regimen, it is best to check with your physician.

To check on your physician’s license status with the Medical Board of California,  click here.

 

It’s Tax Time – Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File

shutterstock_324599615

You know tax season has begun when your mailbox contains W-2s, 1099s and lots of other tax-related documents needed for filing annual state and federal income tax returns.

While many of us dread preparing our taxes, it’s one of those necessary tasks that we have to get through every year. At least those receiving tax refunds have something to look forward to! But, there is some good tax news this year because the filing deadline has been extended for three days and you have until April 18, 2017 at midnight to get your taxes filed.

We don’t recommend you wait until the last minute, though. Filing early is highly recommended. One of the main reasons is to avoid identity theft. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), identity theft has become a big problem and criminals file fraudulent tax returns and collect refunds in your name leaving you with a mess to clean up. Early filing will prevent this.

Starting early also gives you more time to prepare your returns so you can make sure they are accurate. Plus, you’ll get your refund earlier and if you do have to pay, you’ll have more time to plan for it.

Many wonder whether it’s better to prepare those tax forms themselves or hire a professional. It usually depends on how complicated your finances and returns are. Either way, there is some homework you’ll need to do to keep your stress level down and to complete your filing on time.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  2. Collect needed documents in advance.
  3. Review your documents to be sure you have everything you need and get what is missing.
  4. Determine if you’ll file online or by mail.
  5. Decide if you’ll prepare your tax returns yourself, use a computer tax program or have a tax preparer do it for you.
  6. Before choosing a professional, interview them over the phone or in person to verify their experience and ask any other questions you may have. Then, make an appointment and check their license and credentials.

According to the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) website, California professionals who can charge a fee to prepare tax returns must be licensed as an attorney or certified public accountant (CPA); or be a CTEC-registered tax preparer or an enrolled agent.

CTEC states that “choosing a tax preparer who is not one of those four professionals may prevent you from legal recourse against fraud. It may also increase your chances for additional taxes, interest and fines.”

Check the license

CPA: If you choose a CPA to prepare your taxes, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) encourages you to check the status of a CPA’s license on their website. Or call the board at (916) 263-3680.  You can also find any public enforcement documents related to a California CPA here.

Attorney: To verify the license of an attorney, go to the California Bar Association website.

Tax Preparer and Enrolled Agent: To verify that a tax preparer or enrolled agent is certified, go the California Tax Education Council website.

Helpful Information

The CBA’s Consumer Assistance Booklet has helpful tax information and can be viewed here on their website.

If you need more information on your federal taxes, check the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

California tax information can be found  at the California Tax Service Center www.taxes.ca.gov and at the Franchise Tax Board website.

Take some time now to get those tax returns ready and avoid the headaches and stress of waiting until the last minute.

Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Covered California Open Enrollment Ends January 31

covered-california-jpgOpen enrollment for Covered California, the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ends on Tuesday, January 31. For coverage to begin on March 1, 2017, you must enroll by this deadline.

Depending on different factors such as your family size and income, you can qualify for:

Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

And remember, if you’ve experienced a life-changing event, you may be able to sign up for a health plan during Special Enrollment even after the open enrollment period ends. Visit http://bit.ly/1BMTca1 for more information.

Weighing Out Diet Scams

weight-lossThe first month of 2017 is almost history, but a few of the resolutions you may have put on the list for this year may still not be crossed off—or started, for that matter. Getting more organized and saving money are goals that are easy to plan, while losing weight—a resolution that is at the top of many people’s lists—is one of the hardest to start.

Losing weight is a healthy and rewarding goal, however, beware of quick-fix weight-loss products and plans. Like other scams, if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.

At best, “miracle” weight-loss products won’t help at all and will only cause you to lose money. At worst, they can cause health issues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that hundreds of dietary supplement products contain hidden active ingredients that may be advertised as “natural” and “safe.” As a result, the FDA has received numerous reports of increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, stroke, seizure, and even death as a result of taking these supplements.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), beware of weight-loss ads with tag lines like these:

  • Lose weight without diet or exercise!
  • Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!
  • Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!
  • Just take a pill!
  • Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
  • Everybody will lose weight!
  • Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!

The FTC says the best way to lose weight is to cut about 500 calories per day, eat a variety of healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Also, before beginning any weight-loss plan, consult your healthcare professional. To check the status of a doctor’s license, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.