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New California laws for 2002

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000000208jan01.story

THE STATE

CALIFORNIA LAWS 2002

January 1 2002

Agriculture

Pierce's disease--Starting in July, grape growers will be assessed up to $3 per $1,000 of value to fund research into fighting Pierce's disease and the bug that has recently turned it into an agricultural menace, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. (AB 1394 by Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa)Animals

Abandoned pets--Visitors and new arrivals to California will be greeted at entry points by highway signs that warn it is against the law to abandon pets, and that violators can be fined $1,000, sent to jail for six months, or both. (SB 237 by Ed Vincent, D-Inglewood)

Animal officers--Animal control officers can arm themselves with a wooden club or baton, provided they have passed a course of instruction. Some animal control officers carry firearms. Supporters of the bill say a baton would give officers an "intermediate" weapon for self-defense. (AB 1023 by Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg)

Animal research--Animal shelters must post signs and notify owners on surrender forms that the animals they plan to give up may be used for research or to supply blood or tissue to veterinarians. (SB 338 by Ed Vincent, D-Inglewood)

Dog attacks--Dog breeders must "socialize" their animals with humans. Socialization is not spelled out, but supporters indicated humans must play with canines before they are sold. A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. (AB 161 by Ken Maddox, R-Garden Grove)

Guard dogs--Owners of guard-dog businesses have to obtain permits from animal control agencies, and must maintain a register of all people to whom the animals are sold. (SB 769 by Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont)

Cars and Drivers

Distracted drivers--State and local traffic police will report driver distractions that are known or suspected to play a part in crashes, including cell phones and children. The information will be analyzed by the California Highway Patrol, which may make recommendations for new laws. (AB 770 by George Nakano, D-Torrance)

Driver records--County psychiatric social workers and trial court employees can have all information on their Department of Motor Vehicles records suppressed, except for law enforcement purposes. Stalking victims threatened with death or bodily injury already can have their DMV records made confidential. (AB 84 by Bob Hertzberg, D-Sherman Oaks)

Impounded cars--Vehicle storage operators must publish a 24-hour telephone number that owners can call for information on retrieving their impounded vehicles and their right to challenge the impoundment. (AB 360 by Herb Wesson, D-Culver City)

Memorial signs--Family members can erect roadside signs in memory of victims of a drunk or drugged driver. The signs will bear the victim's name and the message, "Please don't drink and drive." The state Department of Transportation will establish fees and impose terms and conditions on the signs. (AB 965 by Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia)

Stoplights--Red-light cameras must be programmed to ensure the minimum yellow light change intervals meet standards of the Department of Transportation. Advocates of the legislation contend that drivers have been unfairly ticketed because the yellow-to-red light changes are too fast. (SB 667 by Steve Peace, D-El Cajon)

Civil Rights

Disabled parking--The Department of Motor Vehicles no longer can charge a fee for placards allowing disabled people to park in preferred spots. The color of the placards will change every two years to reduce fraud. (AB 677 by Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento)

English at work--Employers cannot require only English to be spoken in the workplace unless they can justify a business reason for doing so. (AB 800 by Herb Wesson, D-Culver City)

School athletics--The California Interscholastic Federation, which helps run competitive sports in the state, cannot discriminate against student athletes based on religion, sexual orientation or mental capacity. Students can file complaints against school districts or the CIF directly with the state Department of Education. (SB 225 by Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica)

Consumer Issues

College credit cards--California state universities and community colleges must regulate the marketing practices of credit card companies on their campuses. (AB 521 by Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood)

Identity theft--At the request of a consumer, credit reporting agencies must post a "security alert" in the consumer's credit report warning that the consumer's identity may have been stolen and used fraudulently. (SB 168 by Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey)

Predatory lending--Home lenders must curb a variety of practices considered predatory, including making loans without considering the borrower's ability to pay them back. (AB 489 by Carole Migden, D-San Francisco)

Telemarketing--By Jan. 1, 2003, the state Department of Justice must establish a "do not call" list of Californians who do not want to receive unsolicited pitches from telemarketers. Violators will be subject to a $1,500 fine per call. (SB 771 by Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont)

Crime and Punishment

CHP age

The maximum age to apply for a job as a California Highway Patrol officer is raised from 31 to 35. (AB 311 by Bill Campbell, R-Villa Park)

DNA data--DNA samples from arsonists, burglars, carjackers and robbers are added to the criminal identification databases of the state Department of Justice. About 6,000 new felons are expected to be added annually. Already required were DNA samples from various felons, including registered sex offenders. (AB 673 by Carole Migden, D-San Francisco)

Executions--The Department of Corrections cannot compel a state prison physician to attend an inmate execution. If the doctor refuses a request to attend the execution, the refusal cannot be used in any disciplinary action. (SB 129 by John Burton, D-San Francisco)

Parolees--Prison authorities must notify local district attorneys and law enforcement departments when parolees convicted of domestic violence are released. Until now, such notifications have been mostly limited to such felonies as murder, rape and robbery. (SB 432 by Richard Monteith, R-Modesto)

Sex offenders--Sex offenders must register with college or university police within five days of arriving on campus as a student or employee. Conforms California to federal law. (AB 4 by Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel)

Unsupervised children--It is now an infraction, punishable by a $100 fine, to leave a child under age 6 unsupervised in a vehicle if the engine is running, the keys are in the ignition or there are other "significant" risks to the child's safety. The new law is named after 6-month-old Kaitlyn Russell of Corona, who died in 2000 when she was left by a baby sitter in a van on a hot summer day. (SB 255 by Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough)

Education

Accreditation--School boards must notify parents in writing when a school loses accredited status with the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges. (AB 1725 by Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno)

Charter schools--Charter schools must obtain waivers from the State Board of Education for non-classroom-based instruction programs or have their funding cut by at least 10% a year over the next three years. (SB 740 by Jack O'Connell, D-San Luis Obispo)

Exit exam--Students cannot take the high school exit exam until they are in 10th grade. (AB 1609 by Thomas Calderon, D-Montebello)

Explosives--Students caught with explosives on campus must be expelled. (SB 166 by Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno)

Immigrant tuition--Undocumented immigrants who attended high school in California for at least three years and graduated can qualify for in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities. (AB 540 by Marco Firebaugh, D-Los Angeles)

Sex crimes--Teachers charged with federal sex offenses will have their credentials suspended and will be immediately removed from the classroom if convicted. (SB 299 by Jack Scott, D-Altadena)

Standardized testing--The Standardized Testing and Reporting program will continue in California schools until 2005 instead of expiring this year. (SB 233 by Dede Alpert, D-Coronado)

Sun hats--Every school must permit use of sun-protective clothing such as hats, but schools can ban clothing deemed to be gang-related. (SB 310 by Don Perata, D-Alameda)

Elections

Cybersquatting--"Political cyberfraud" is now a crime. Violations include registering the domain name of a political opponent on the Internet to set up a phony Web site or to resell it for financial gain. (SB 412 by John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara)

Signing "X"--A person who cannot provide a signature may use a mark on absentee ballots as long as one witness is present. Formerly, two witnesses were required. (AB 1520 by Kevin Shelley, D-San Francisco)

Environment

Arsenic levels--Public health and environmental hazard regulators must begin drawing up a new and presumably tougher standard for maximum levels of arsenic in drinking water. (SB 463 by Sen. Don Perata, D-Alameda)

Guns

Assault weapons--Peace officers can register their personal assault weapons if they had failed to do so earlier, provided purchase of the firearms was approved by their departments for use on duty. (SB 626 by Don Perata, D-Alameda)

Gun access--Increases from 16 to 18 the age of individuals classified as children for purposes of the charge of criminal storage of a firearm. Also, if an unsecured firearm is taken to school by a child, the parent or guardian can be charged with an additional crime. (SB 9 by Nell Soto, D-Pomona)

Inspection fee--Increases from $85 to $115 the fee that the state Department of Justice may impose for inspection of firearms dealers and to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. (SB 294 by Jack Scott, D-Altadena)

Safety latch--New guns manufactured, sold or transferred in California must be equipped with a safety device approved by the state Department of Justice. Passed in 1999, it takes effect this year. (AB 106 by Jack Scott, D-Altadena)

Health Care

AIDS vaccine--Health plans must provide coverage for any AIDS vaccine approved for marketing by the federal government. The law is intended to spur the pharmaceutical industry to continue working on a cure for the virus. (SB 446 by John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara)

Candy cigarettes--It is a misdemeanor to sell candy-flavored tobacco products such as imported bidi cigarettes in places where minors under 18 are allowed. (SB 322 by Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento)

Dental board--Disbands the Dental Board of California, which had attracted criticism, and sets up a new one. (SB 134 by Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont)

Donor registry--California will establish an organ and tissue donor registry. The Department of Motor Vehicles will provide a form for license and ID card applicants who want to be donors. (SB 108 by Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough)

Smoking ban--It is illegal to smoke or dispose of cigarettes on public playgrounds or tot-lot areas. (AB 188 by Juan Vargas, D-San Diego)

Tobacco stings--The state Department of Health Services can make sting inspections of businesses that have sold tobacco to minors, including phone and Internet businesses. (SB 757 by Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento)

Insurance

Arson fires--Insurance carriers cannot refuse to renew an insurance policy solely because a claim for payment resulted from a hate crime against a nonprofit religious, educational or charitable organization. The bill resulted from a controversy in which an insurance company refused to renew the coverage of a Jewish temple in Sacramento that was the target of fire-bombers. (AB 1193 by Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento)

Labor

Breast-feeding--Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a work break and an appropriate room, other than a toilet stall or broom closet, for lactating mothers to pump breast milk. (AB 1025 by Dario Frommer, D-Los Feliz)

Farm workers--Farm labor contractors, the middlemen who often hire workers for agribusinesses, face stiffer fines for repeated violations of labor laws. The state labor commissioner is required to establish units to enforce the laws, and county district attorneys are permitted to form their own enforcement units. (AB 423 by Bob Hertzberg, D-Sherman Oaks)

Safe aisles--Owners of warehouse stores where forklifts and other heavy equipment are used must securely fasten merchandise that is stored 12 feet above the sales floor. (SB 486 by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough)

Skin cancer--Skin cancer among certain lifeguards is presumed to be a result of their employment. Employers can dispute the presumption. (AB 663 by Juan Vargas, D-San Diego)

Legal Issues

Lawyers' rehabilitation--The State Bar is required to provide treatment for attorneys for substance abuse or mental illness, with the funding coming from member dues. (SB 479 by John Burton, D-San Francisco)

Prenuptial agreements--Premarital agreements dealing with spousal support cannot be enforced if the spouse did not have an independent lawyer at the time the agreement was signed. Inspired by a case involving baseball slugger Barry Bonds and his former wife. (SB 78 by Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica)

Public records--Public employees must help people file "focused" requests for public records and to notify the requester of the estimated time and date when a record will be available. (AB 1014 by Lou Papan, D-Millbrae)

*

Sources: California Senate Office of Research, Senate Committee on Public Safety, California Department of Justice, California State Automobile Assn.

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