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CA: New year ushers in 910 new state laws
San Diego Union-Tribune ^ | January 1, 2007 | Michael Gardner

Posted on 01/02/2007 8:25:50 AM PST by calcowgirl

Drivers, students, dogs, smokers will be affected

SACRAMENTO – California's government has made about 900 New Year's resolutions for you.

Eat your veggies. Go to the dentist. Don't smoke in parking garages. Pay low-wage workers more. No cruising in a car trunk. Leave Fido at home on hot days – but don't tether him in the yard either. Oh, and don't bribe your local politician.

But unlike easily broken promises to ourselves, these resolutions are law starting today.

Some even clarify what you can do, instead of can't do. Among those: charities can host casino nights after years of police looking the other way, beer makers can offer courses that include free samples of their latest brew, and hair threaders, who use cotton thread and a twisting motion to remove unwanted facial hair by the root, can “incidentally” trim eyebrows.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on measures passed by lawmakers throughout the year will impose 910 new laws aimed at curtailing crooks, protecting pets, and safeguarding swimmers. Several measures were passed in previous years, but did not go into effect until today.

“It was a mixed bag,” Consumers Union director Betsy Imholz said of 2006 legislation. “We had a couple of nice victories in health care. Otherwise, it was hard to get some things going.”

Immediately, thousands of Californians will see a fatter paycheck this year. Lawmakers hiked the minimum wage by 75 cents, bringing it to $7.50 an hour. An additional half-dollar will be added Jan. 1, 2008.

“It's going to put a lot of pressure on consumers. ... There will be some sort of inflation at the dinner table,” said Jot Condie, president of the 25,000-member California Restaurant Association.

Other high-profile laws will inch toward implemention, eventually affecting prescription drug prices, television service and air quality.

In some other cases, measures passed this year were given delayed launches. Most prominently, motorists must use hands-free mobile phones while behind the wheel starting July 1, 2008.

In addition to the first of the year, July 1 is a favorite start-up date. Four significant laws will go into effect at the midway point of 2007:

• Students will find junk food harder to come by: School cafeterias will have to start counting calories and offering healthier choices.

• Thirsty high schoolers will see the gradual disappearance of sugared sodas from snack bars and vending machines and the introduction of more fruit-and vegetable-based drinks.

• Choosing plastic over paper may come with less guilt. Retailers must make it easier for consumers by offering convenient plastic bag recycling bins at stores.

• Meat and poultry producers must notify state health officials when contaminated products are recalled. The public also will be informed.

In the nation's capital, the old saying is if you want a friend, get a dog. In California's Capitol, rare is a year that goes by without a nod to man's best friend. Starting today:

• California becomes the first state in the nation to impose a ban on chaining dogs to stationary objects outside. Owners face up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for keeping dogs tethered for more than three hours consecutively. Farm and hunting dogs are exempt.

• Owners can be fined $100 for leaving pets unattended in cars on hot days without ventilation, food and water.

Sea otters also starred in legislation. A new law will create a tax check-off program that allows taxpayers to donate a share of their refunds to protect the marine animal.

As part of that measure, cat lovers will see something new on the label of the litter bag: a warning asking for proper disposal because scientists have found that sea otters are being sickened by parasites traced to cat litter dumped down toilets.

In a defeat for animal rights activists, lawmakers approved a measure sponsored by the governor of Louisiana that lifts California's ban on importing products made from alligators and crocodiles.

Smokers may have escaped higher taxes when voters rejected a $2.60 per pack increase in November, but they are staring at more restrictions in 2007. Smoking will be banned in all common-use areas, such as parking garages, stairwells and elevators.

Cigarettes also may be safer in 2007, if not any healthier. Legislation passed in 2005 requires tobacco companies to introduce this year “fire safe” cigarettes designed to self-extinguish if they aren't being smoked, in order to prevent deadly blazes.

Three new laws attracted scores of headlines, in some cases worldwide, but nevertheless are only in the simmering stage:

• Regulators will craft air pollution rules this year, with extended compliance dates over the next decade, to require industry and power plants to gradually reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of an aggressive campaign to curb global warming.

• Health officials are expected to spend most of 2007 designing a landmark program to help reduce prescription drug costs for an estimated 5 million uninsured Californians. The goal is to offer discounts of up to 60 percent, but enrollment in the program is not expected to begin until early 2008.

• Telecommunications companies are gearing up for a full-scale push into a market long dominated by cable and satellite providers. Lawmakers have exempted phone companies from signing individually negotiated franchise agreements with cities and counties. Over time, viewers will see more selection at better prices as competition heats up, industry officials say.

Lawmakers passed a variety of measures to punish crooks, help consumers, and grant gays more rights. Some measures were passed in previous years and are just now becoming law.

A sampling of new laws:

Consumer protection

• Parents who drop off their children at large day-care facilities can request advance notice of pesticide applications. Warning signs must be posted 24 hours before and 72 hours after the facility is sprayed. Some common products sold under familiar labels aimed at mites, fungus and other pests are banned. Day-care operators must tell parents every year which pesticides are used and how frequently. Small in-home day-care providers are exempt.

• Cemeteries will have to provide minimum levels of care for the grounds and provide more ownership information.

• Pharmacies must offer consumers more information and list options if on-duty pharmacists object on moral or religious grounds to dispensing birth control pills or devices.

• Health plans must cover expanded cervical cancer screening.

• Consumers will have at least 30 days to mail in product rebate forms.

• Landlords must give tenants a 60-day notice when terminating month-to-month leases.

• Purchase receipts retained by businesses cannot display more than five digits of a credit card number, to deter thieves.

• Health clubs will be required to have a defibrillator.

• The state can cite nail salon operators for unsanitary practices while providing manicures and pedicures.

Gay rights

• State agencies are barred from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 if the contractor does not offer gay employees with registered domestic partners the same benefits that are provided to married employees.

• State-registered domestic partners may file joint income tax returns.

• Same-sex couples will be charged $23 to register as domestic partners, with the money going toward programs that assist lesbian, gay and transgender victims of domestic violence.


• Carrying passengers in car trunks will be against the law. Teenagers have been riding in trunks to avoid tickets for violating a law barring new, younger drivers from carrying passengers. Under the measure, violators could be handed a $100 ticket.

• Passing parked police cars, ambulances or tow trucks with activated flashers could bring a $50 ticket. Motorists are required to change into another lane to create a buffer zone or, if unsafe, slow considerably.

• First-time drunken drivers with a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher can lose their license for 10 months instead of six. The legal threshold is .08.

• Those under 21 who drink and drive will fall under a new zero-tolerance law. Underage drivers can be cited with a $100 ticket if found with any alcohol in their system, no matter how small the amount.

• Motorists who lose their keys to high-end cars with sophisticated entry systems will be able to go to a locksmith rather than waiting for the dealer, who has had exclusive use of codes to make copies.

Law enforcement

• Firing air-powered pellet guns in a negligent manner will be a misdemeanor.

• Graffiti “taggers” will lose driving privileges for two years instead of the current one year. Underage vandals will not be eligible for licenses for three years from the date they would have been allowed to drive.

• Increases in a variety of existing penalties for those who train animals to fight and those who knowingly attend such fights.

• Lying on firearm registration paperwork will be punishable by up to 18 months in state prison.

• Bribing local public officials will carry bigger penalties, up to four years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.

• Stealing free newspapers will be a crime, punishable by a $250 fine. The law grew out of a case in Chula Vista, where the local newspaper was being stolen and sold to recyclers in Mexico. Those who want keepsake copies can still take up to 25 without penalty.

• Dangerous college hazing would be elevated to a felony, carrying a penalty of up to one year in prison.

• Street racing could be charged as a felony, significantly increasing fines and leading to as many as six months behind bars.


• Parents or guardians must provide proof that their child had been to the dentist within the previous year of enrolling in kindergarten. The law also extends to first-graders who did not attend kindergarten.

• The top 250 tax deadbeats who owe more than $100,000 will have their names released publicly by the state.

• New or remodeled pools and spas must have at lease one of seven sanctioned safety features, such as a fence or alarm.

• College newspapers will enjoy expanded protections from administration-imposed censorship.

• Ten thousand additional hybrid cars will be eligible for special stickers that grant access to car-pool lanes.

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: 2manylaws; 2muchgovernment; callegislation; govwatch

1 posted on 01/02/2007 8:25:51 AM PST by calcowgirl
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To: calcowgirl

--ah, the joy of having a a "full-time" legislature--

2 posted on 01/02/2007 8:27:38 AM PST by rellimpank (-don't believe anything the MSM states about firearms or explosives--NRA Benefactor)
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To: calcowgirl

Don't feel bad. The residents of most states hate freedom right along with you guys. Statism has won, and the battle is over.

3 posted on 01/02/2007 8:28:04 AM PST by mysterio
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To: calcowgirl

No problem. California passes so many new laws every year that half the population has no clue what the laws are anymore......the other half of the population are illegal aliens and don't care what the laws are.

4 posted on 01/02/2007 8:34:23 AM PST by sheana
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To: calcowgirl

We'll all be criminals soon.

5 posted on 01/02/2007 8:35:14 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: calcowgirl
Repeat after Nanny: Anything not compulsory is forbidden.
6 posted on 01/02/2007 8:40:02 AM PST by NaughtiusMaximus (Our troops are smart. It's our politicians who are stupid.)
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To: mysterio
Don't feel bad. The residents of most states hate freedom right along with you guys. Statism has won, and the battle is over.

So true. The battle is over, seemingly even on FR. Government - mommy - nanny - knows best, should determine our morality, and should shape us.

Freedom was too risky anyway.

7 posted on 01/02/2007 8:42:04 AM PST by Swordfished
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To: Swordfished

What a sad, but true, comment. Is there no hope of going back to the ideal?

What now? Has FR failed in it's mission to "restore the constitution"? Are we now just a defanged chat-group?

8 posted on 01/02/2007 8:56:20 AM PST by Jack Black
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To: calcowgirl

Big brother knows best.

9 posted on 01/02/2007 9:16:09 AM PST by siznartuf (If I Hear "Jobs Americans Won't Do" One More ^%&^%^%# Time)
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To: mysterio

Sadly though, those sort of things have led to an exodus from CA to CO, where they elect Dem/Libs to the state legislature, and they then implement the same sorts of fuzzy logic, knowing that THIS time it will work....

10 posted on 01/02/2007 9:31:53 AM PST by Colorado Mike (Lord, help me be the Conservative my enemies think I am.)
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To: Jack Black; calcowgirl

Go ahead, start making speaches about the constitution.

You'll be excoriated as a radical, or worse, a Libertarian (God forbid)... and I'm talking about on Fr!

Time for talk is over.

Don't see any other way but a revolution.

PS: Thanks for the heads up calcowgirl

11 posted on 01/02/2007 9:36:54 AM PST by siznartuf (If I Hear "Jobs Americans Won't Do" One More ^%&^%^%# Time)
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To: Colorado Mike
Freedom wasn't just killed by the dems. Both parties are currently engaged in a race to see who can desecrate the corpse of freedom most effectively. To tell you the truth, I only stay informed lately for entertainment value and to point out hypocrisy. The time to do anything about it has long passed. The public demands statism now. Game over.
12 posted on 01/02/2007 9:36:58 AM PST by mysterio
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To: siznartuf
Don't see any other way but a revolution.

Which will never happen while the sheep are fattened by doritos and mind-numbed by professional sports and way cool tv shows. The revolution is not coming. Have a snack and pop on the game. All the cool kids are doing it.
13 posted on 01/02/2007 9:39:54 AM PST by mysterio
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To: calcowgirl

The Sea Otter must have a heckuva lobby.

14 posted on 01/02/2007 10:00:23 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years)
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To: siznartuf
Go ahead, start making speaches about the constitution.
You'll be excoriated as a radical, or worse, a Libertarian (God forbid)... and I'm talking about on Fr!

Sad, but true! Not to mention "extremist", "single-issue voter", and "one-percenter."

15 posted on 01/02/2007 10:03:58 AM PST by calcowgirl ("Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink." P. J. O'Rourke)
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To: calcowgirl

Caution: Living in California may get you sent to jail.

16 posted on 01/02/2007 10:48:38 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ......)
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To: calcowgirl

"Sad, but true! Not to mention 'extremist', 'single-issue voter', and 'one-percenter'."

Yeah, that's me, especially the 'single issue'part... I'd like to see the Constitution -- that better men and women than I am died defending -- upheld. That's my single-issue!

17 posted on 01/02/2007 11:52:24 AM PST by siznartuf (If I Hear "Jobs Americans Won't Do" One More ^%&^%^%# Time)
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