Thursday, January 1, 2009

CA's New laws

Motorists
It will cost $50 to obtain a 30-day extension to pass the state's smog check if a vehicle flunks the first time.
Judges will now consider a lower blood-alcohol threshold to determine when repeat drunken drivers must install breath-alcohol analyzers in vehicles.
Law and order
It will be illegal to publish the home address and other personal information about animal researchers and their families with the intent of causing harm. The measure passed in response to the firebombings of the homes of two UC Santa Cruz researchers in August.
Regulators can disconnect the phones of “bandit” taxis that have not been licensed or inspected.
Recyclers will have to take thumbprints and record driver's licenses from those selling copper, aluminum and stainless steel, which have become increasingly popular commodities for thieves.
Consumer protection
Banks and other companies no longer can offer gifts to college students in return for completing credit card applications.
Reselling products that have been recalled is prohibited.
Sweepstakes promoters cannot falsely claim someone has been singled out for participation, ask for money to receive a prize and send out “last chance” warnings that are untrue.
New standards of care are in place for animals sold in pet stores, such as cage cleaning.
Consumers will have new rights in placing freezes on credit reports, including requirements that companies comply within three days.
Health
Emergency medical technicians must undergo criminal background checks.
A board to regulate and certify massage therapists will be established.
Insurers must cover HIV testing.
Insurers no longer can reward employees or underwriters with bonuses for canceling policies after claims have been filed.
Miscellaneous
Beer makers can give away promotional items valued up to $3.
Marriage license forms will enable a man to take his wife's name.
School administrators cannot punish high school newspaper advisers who refuse to censor some student-written material.
Homeowners with solar panels cannot force neighbors to trim or remove existing trees, even if the foliage shades the panels.
Small roadside fruit stands can now legally sell homemade jam and other items to consumers.

Life vests must be provided to children shorter than 4 feet tall who play in amusement park wave pools. Most parks complied after 4-year-old Carlos Flores drowned at Great America theme park in Santa Clara in 2007.
School cafeterias and vending machines cannot offer meals and snacks laden with trans fats starting July 1.
Newly bought teethers, rubber duckies and bath books may be safer: toys made for those 3 and younger cannot contain more than a trace of phthalates – chemicals added to plastic that make products soft and flexible.
One of the most attention-getting laws makes it illegal to send text messages while driving.

“Most people understand text-messaging is just not compatible with safe driving,” said Joe Farrow, commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.

But it is now OK for the directionally challenged to attach a GPS device to the windshield.

Forget sticker shock – how about smog shock? New cars must carry stickers showing how they rank in terms of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions on a scale of 1 to 10.

“This label will arm consumers with the information they need to choose a vehicle that saves gas, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps fight smog all at once,” said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state Air Resources Board.

It may be last call for some charity bingo parlors. One of the most heavily lobbied bills prohibits electronic bingo games that mimic slot machines, a victory for Indian gaming tribes. In return, some larger charities, including the Catholic Church, can launch remote-caller bingo that connects games statewide via audio and video with bigger payouts. Smaller charities that rely on the machines worry about a huge drop-off in income.

Lawmakers also are watching our waistlines. Chain restaurants with 20 or more locations must offer nutritional guides, including calories, starting July 1.

At last check, lawmakers could not turn water into wine. But they have made it easier to know what's in both. Bottled-water companies must reveal the source. Vintners cannot claim a Sonoma County heritage unless 75 percent of the grapes came from the county.

The Capitol was marred by bitter disputes that delayed the budget and thwarted compromise on a number of measures. As part of the fallout, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed nearly one out of three bills that came across his desk, rejecting more than 400.

“There were lots of bills that died because of fiscal issues or hostility between the houses” of the Legislature, said Bill Magavern of the Sierra Club.

However, environmentalists secured passage of a landmark global warming measure that includes a mix of rewards and regulations to curb sprawl, provide affordable housing and encourage public transit use.

1 comment:

Cheri said...

This was insightful!