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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! New Laws for California

Happy New Year everyone! I came across this article from the Sacramento Bee this morning which discusses many of the new laws for 2007. It's some of the highlights of the some 910 (estimated) new laws effective today or later in the great state of California.

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Welcome new do's, don'ts for 2007
Ignorance no excuse - hundreds more rules to live by start today.
By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol BureauPublished 12:00 am PST Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year?

Maybe not, if you plan to ride in the trunk of a car, fire a BB gun willy-nilly, cheat on state taxes, or work as a shopping-mall Santa after committing a sex crime.

More than 900 new laws target those and myriad other issues, ranging from global warming to dog tethering to minimum wages. Alligator boots, poker nights and sea otters are winners this year, while hazing, graffiti vandalism and street racing are losers.

For anyone who wonders how much of a Sonoma- labeled wine comes from Sonoma County grapes, one new law sets a minimum: 75 percent.

Most of the new laws take effect today, but not all, including a ban on motorists holding a cell phone to their ear -- which begins July 2008.

California's lowest-paid workers will receive a 75 cent pay hike beginning today, to $7.50 an hour, and are assured a 50 cent boost next Jan. 1.

A landmark new law that will be watched closely nationwide, Assembly Bill 32, commits California to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Other notable new laws will allow AT&T, Verizon and other telephone firms to offer cable TV programming, and will create a discount drug program for uninsured Californians.

At least one new law already has been blocked by a judge, Assembly Bill 1381, which would give Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa partial control over the city's massive school system.
Despite all the talk of bipartisan cooperation between Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislators, the governor vetoed 262 bills last year, or 22.4 percent, the fifth-highest percentage since comparisons began in 1967, according to the Senate Office of Research.
Schwarzenegger killed bills to create a state-run system of health care, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for college aid and expand a program that allows mothers to surrender unwanted infants without fear of prosecution. Other vetoed bills would have banned schools from using textbooks that disparage gays, required toilets and urinals to use less water and permitted distribution of condoms in California prisons.

Notable new laws, by subject area, include:
Criminal justice
• Assembly Bill 2251 -- Bans Internet posting of personal information about an abortion clinic's employees, volunteers or patients with the intent to threaten or harm them. Violators would be subject to civil penalties.
• Assembly Bill 2263 -- Requires sex offenders to disclose that fact when seeking jobs that involve touching children, such as a shopping mall Santa or a carnival ride operator.
• Senate Bill 532 -- Makes firing a BB gun in a grossly negligent manner a misdemeanor.
• Assembly Bill 2923 -- Requires judges to suspend the driver's licenses of convicted graffiti vandals for up to two years.
Consumers
• Senate Bill 202 -- Prohibits purchase or sale of a person's telephone calling records without consent.
• Assembly Bill 2977 -- Requires new and remodeled pools or spas to contain a safety feature, such as a mesh fence or alarm system.
• Assembly Bill 2987 -- Creates a statewide franchising process for telephone companies to offer cable TV programming or retail packages that combine phone, video and Internet service.
• Assembly Bill 1169 -- Requires long-term tenants to receive a 60-day notice before subjecting them to a "no-fault eviction."
Health/medicine
• Assembly Bill 2911 -- Requires drug makers to provide discounts for uninsured Californians or risk sanctions in three years.
• Senate Bill 1379 -- Creates a biomonitoring program to measure toxic chemicals in the bodies of human volunteers.
• Senate Bill 1534 -- Permits a city, county or hospital district to provide aid, including health care, to illegal immigrants.
• Senate Bill 162 -- Creates a separate state Department of Public Health, beginning in July, to address bioterrorism, infectious disease and other threats.
Education
• Senate Bill 1655 -- Gives principals of low-performing schools more power to reject teacher transfers from other campuses.
• Senate Bill 1209 -- Simplifies the process for qualifying and hiring out-of-state teachers.
• Assembly Bill 172 -- Funds a $50 million expansion of preschool programs in low-performing communities.
• Senate Bill 1454 -- Sets criminal penalties for hazing and allows victims to file civil suits against perpetrators.
Environment
• Assembly Bill 2067 -- Bans smoking in "common areas," such as bathrooms or stairwells, that are in workplaces or covered public parking structures.
• Senate Bill 1 -- Requires developers of large housing developments to offer solar-electric systems on new homes after Jan. 1, 2011.
• Senate Bill 1368 -- Prohibits utilities and corporations from signing long-term power contracts with suppliers who fail to meet greenhouse gas emission standards.
Business
• Senate Bill 1699 -- Bans businesses from displaying more than the last five digits of a customer's credit card or debit card number on receipts kept by the firms.
• Assembly Bill 1418 -- Requires disclosure of the 250 largest scofflaws owing more than $100,000 in sales, use, personal income tax or corporate taxes.
• Assembly Bill 2440 -- Makes employers and individuals financially liable if they knowingly help someone evade child support payments.
Pets/animals
• Senate Bill 1578 -- Prohibits tethering a dog to a stationary object for more than three hours.
• Senate Bill 1806 -- Bans leaving pets unattended in vehicles when extreme weather, lack of food or other adverse conditions could cause suffering or harm.
• Assembly Bill 2485 -- Provides a box on California tax returns for people to check if they want to contribute toward protecting sea otters.
• Senate Bill 1485 -- Legalizes the importation of alligator and crocodile products until 2010.
Transportation
• Assembly Bill 2752 -- Imposes a $100 fine for those under 21 who drive with a trace amount of alcohol in their system.
• Assembly Bill 1850 -- Bans riding in the trunk of a vehicle and sets $100 fines for both the driver and passenger.
• Assembly Bill 2600 -- Increases the number of hybrid-carpool permits -- from 75,000 to 85,000 -- that can be issued by the state.
• Assembly Bill 2190 -- Allows motorists to be charged with a felony if their reckless driving or street racing causes great bodily injury.
Miscellaneous
• Assembly Bill 839 -- Allows nonprofit groups to raise funds by sponsoring a poker night or some other adult gambling event, provided that winners receive prizes, not cash.
• Senate Bill 1827 -- Allows joint tax returns by registered domestic partners, which are gay couples or opposite-sex partners age 62 or older.
• Assembly Bill 546 -- Bans government employees from using state-owned or state-leased computers to view obscene material.

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