VENTURA COUNTY STAR: California 745 new laws cover everything from soup to tanning beds

January 01, 2012

All ages to be affected by changes
By Timm Herdt

SACRAMENTO — California will usher in 2012 with 745 new laws on its books — and if you like shark fin soup, are in the habit of carrying around an unloaded handgun, or are the parent of a teenager who frequents tanning salons — there are some you need to be aware of.

It was a relatively slow year for new laws as the Legislature, constrained by falling state revenues, passed the fewest bills in nearly 50 years.

Gov. Jerry Brown pared things down more by issuing 125 vetoes.

Still, the law is changing in ways large and small.

Beginning Jan. 1, for example, it is illegal in California to possess, sell or distribute shark fins unless those fins were harvested by a licensed commercial or recreational fisherman who took the entire animal for its meat and other uses.

The law is aimed at stopping the importation of fins, used in the preparation of the Chinese dish shark fin soup, harvested internationally by shark hunters who take only those body parts, leaving the animals to die in the ocean. Biologists say that overfishing has resulted in a 90 percent decline of shark populations worldwide.

Under the law, AB 376 by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, restaurants will be able to continue selling shark fin soup in 2012 if it is made from ingredients that were purchased before Jan. 1.

Responding to concerns about public "meet-ups" of large numbers of gun enthusiasts openly carrying unloaded handguns, lawmakers approved AB 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, making it a misdemeanor to carry an exposed, unloaded handgun in public places.

Under SB 746 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, California becomes the first state in the nation to prohibit those under age 18 to use commercial tanning beds.

Detailed information on any of the new laws can be found by searching the bill number under "bill information" at the website http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/.

The following is a list of other noteworthy new that take effect in 2012:

ALCOHOL

• SB 39 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, prohibits the sale, importation and production of beer to which caffeine has been added.

• AB 183 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, bans the sale of alcohol at grocery store self-service checkout stations.

ANIMALS

• SB 917 by Lieu makes it a crime to sell live animals on any street, highway, parking lot, carnival or boardwalk.

DRIVING

• SB 929 by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, requires children remain in booster seats until they are 8 years old or have reached the height of 4-foot, 9 inches.

• AB353 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, prohibits the impounding of vehicles at sobriety checkpoints if the only offense is the failure of the driver to be properly licensed.

• AB 1601 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-South San Francisco, allows a court to permanently revoke the driver's license of anyone convicted of three or more DUIs in a 10-year period. Currently, the license can be revoked for up to three years. (Law enacted in 2010; takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.)

EDUCATION

• SB 48 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, adds disabled people and lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender individuals to the list of groups whose roles should be accurately portrayed in instructional materials.

• AB 130 and AB 131 by Cedillo implement what is known as the California Dream Act by extending to students attending public universities who graduated from California high schools but are not legal residents of the United States the ability to compete for private scholarships and to receive state financial aid.

• AB 1330 by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Los Angeles, allows a course in career and technical education to satisfy one of the state-required courses for high school graduation.

ELDERS

• AB 2819 by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, authorizes wage garnishments against those convicted of financial abuse of elders.

• AB 313 by Assemblyman William Monning, D-Santa Cruz, requires nursing homes to notify patients and their families within 10 days if the Department of Social Services determines a serious health and safety violation has occurred.

ELECTIONS

• AB 80 by Fong moves the presidential primary from February to June and consolidates it with the statewide primary election for all other offices.

• AB 459 by Hill ratifies an interstate compact whereby California will award its electoral votes in presidential elections to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide. The compact will not take effect until it has been ratified by enough states to provide a majority of Electoral College votes.

• AB 457 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank, makes it a crime to trick seniors into voting in ways in which they did not intend.

• SB 202 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, requires that all ballot initiatives be placed only on November general election ballots.

ENVIRONMENT

• AB 900 by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon,{and co-authored by Lieu} allows new projects representing investments of $100 million or more to receive streamlined judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act if the projects meet heightened environmental standards and help reduce unemployment.

• SB 292 by Padilla specifies that the proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium receive streamlined judicial review under CEQA.