Whole bunch of new laws

From employment to family to gun laws, 954 new ones in
effect
Gilroy – It’s now officially illegal to have sex with a corpse in California, but you can receive education and death benefits for joining the state’s Naval Militia, which doesn’t actually exist. And if you are a motel or hotel owner, you can’t raise your rates by more than 10 percent for 30 days following a natural disaster that results in a state of emergency.

Those are three of the more unusual state laws that took effect Jan. 1, though Assemblyman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) said Friday that “one legislator’s wacky bill is another legislator’s common sense bill.”

And for every “wacky” bill signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, there were scores that were unquestionably serious. To Laird, the most important was one of his own, Assembly Bill 2600, which set aside 25 million acres for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, provides funding for environmental protection and prevents development in the protected area.

Also important, Laird said, was prescription drug legislation the governor vetoed. Those bills were to provide financial assistance for prescriptions and allow patients to import drugs from Canada. In his State of the State address this week, Schwarzenegger vowed to find consensus on the issue. The governor also vetoed a bill that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $7.75 an hour.

The office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Friday that the most important new laws of the new year are those that make the identities and addresses of sex offenders available on-line and lengthens some statutes of limitation for sexual abuse victims.

In all, 954 were passed last year. Here are some of interest.

Consumer Protection

• State Bill 1633 prohibits any business from trying to obtain medical information directly from an individual for marketing purposes without clearly and conspicuously disclosing how it will use and share that information, and without obtaining the consumer’s consent.

• Assembly Bill 1950 requires most businesses that own or license personal information about California residents to maintain reasonable security measures to protect the information from unauthorized access and disclosure.

• Assembly Bill 1733 requires cell phone service providers to obtain consent from subscribers before providing the number for use in a directory.

• Assembly Bill 2840 prohibits rental car companies from using technology to monitor use of its rental vehicles.

Family Law

• Assembly Bill 488 makes the identities and addresses of sex offenders available on the Internet.

• State Bill 1678 restores the ability of adult victims to sue the sex offenders who molested them as children if the offenders criminal cases were dismissed or convictions overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

• Assembly Bill 2208 requires health plans and insurers to provide equal coverage to registered domestic partners with the same terms and conditions as those provided to a spouse.

Transportation

• Assembly Bill 1697 requires all children younger than six or weighing less than 60 pounds to be restrained in the back seat of all passenger vehicles.

• Assembly Bill 1878 requires a driver’s license to use a motorized scooter.

• Assembly Bill 2785 prohibits drivers of school buses and transit vehicles from using cell phones while driving.

• Assembly 1854 requires drivers to turn on their headlights whenever they use their windshield wipers.

• Assembly Bill 2628 will allow hybrid vehicles in carpool lanes. This law is awaiting federal approval.

Employment

• State Bill 899 overhauls the workers’ compensation laws. Among other things, the law now requires injured workers to get initial care from a physician selected by the employer, and imposes limits on permanent and temporary disability payments.

Guns

• Assembly Bill 50 bans the .50 caliber browning machine gun. It’s now illegal to manufacture, sell, distribute or import the guns into California. Current owners have year to register.

• Assembly Bill 2431 requires law enforcement to return guns seized for evidence to their lawful owners.

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