New Rules of the Road
Don't talk on a cell without a headset while driving, or use the terms "idiot" or "lunatics" in 2008.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
More than 3,100 bills were proffered by busy California legislators in 2007. A whopping 909 of those bills were signed into law, with the vast majority taking effect Jan. 1. Most of the bills updated language of old laws, extended other laws on the verge sun setting, or clarified ambiguous language. But there were some notable additions.
Perhaps one of the most talked about is Senate Bill 1613, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). SB 1613 requires drivers over 18 to use a hands-free device when using a cell phone while driving. Despite widespread e-mail chain letters and confused blog entries about whether or not the law is already in effect, it doesn’t become law until July 1.
A follow-up bill, also authored by Simitian and signed into law, makes it illegal (as of July 1) for any driver under 18 to use a cell phone or wireless device at any time while driving a car.
Some other laws on the 2008 horizon:
• California’s minimum wage will creep up from $7.50 to $8 per hour.
• SB 7 imposes a $100 fine on anyone smoking a pipe, cigar or cigarette in a vehicle when a minor is present in the vehicle.
• SB 252 requires the Dental Board to revoke or to deny a license to practice dentistry to any registered sex offender.
• SB 655 makes it a misdemeanor for an inmate of a local jail to possess a wireless communication device.
• AB 102 allows either or both parties of a domestic relationship to change his or her middle or last name.
• AB 478 requires bicycle riders to use a headlight if riding on a sidewalk after dark.
• AB 569 extends the current wiretapping law, allowing government interception of electronic communications, to Jan. 1, 2012.
• AB 1291 gives juvenile courts the authority to order parents and guardians of juveniles who commit gang-related offenses to attend anti-gang violence parenting classes at their own expense.
• AB 1640 deletes demoralizing language from existing mental health laws. Specifically, “idiot,” “imbecility,” and “lunatics” will be replaced by “mentally incapacitated.”
• Passed in 2007, but not effective until 2009, is a bill prohibiting schools and school districts from offering kids in grades K through 12 any food containing trans fats.Monterey County legislators were, generally, successful in 2007.
State Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Merced), embroiled in a contentious recall campaign, introduced 18 bills – fewer than his local counterparts. Three were signed into law. One extends an already existing law. Another requires veterinarian applicants to pass written and oral exams. The third allows Californians to bet on the Dubai Cup horse race. Among the bills Denham proposed that were not adopted, SB 397 asked the California Horse Racing Board to adopt dates for horse races. Other bills would have changed non-substantive language of already existing laws.
State Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-San Luis Obispo) introduced 27 bills; seven became law. Among Maldonado’s most significant bills, SB 95 makes outdoor science camp, a middle-school staple, available to underprivileged kids. Another bill extended unemployment benefits to farmworkers affected by last winter’s freeze.
Freshman Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) authored 24 bills. Eight were signed into law, including those affecting wastewater, housing, pet stores, and local government taxes, fees and assessments.
Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) put up 28 bills. A whopping 16 were signed into law, including 10 environmental laws. Laird’s other notable bills address civil rights, clean needles, water conservation and affordable housing.