2013 California laws

    Sales taxes go up, long guns are barred in public

    A mem­ber of the South Bay Open Carry move­ment con­ducts a neigh­bor­hood clean up in Ju­ly 2010 while dis­play­ing un­loaded fire­arms. Christina House, Los Angeles Times
    By Patrick Mc­Greevy | Dec. 31, 2012

    SACRAMENTO — In 2012, the gov­ernor and Le­gis­lature over­hauled Cali­for­nia’s pub­lic pen­sion and work­ers’ com­pens­a­tion sys­tems. They made it il­leg­al to carry rifles openly in cit­ies. They al­lowed cer­tain il­leg­al im­mig­rants to ob­tain driver’s li­censes and qual­i­fy for state col­lege fin­an­cial aid.

    Voters made laws, too, ap­prov­ing Gov. Jerry Brown’s tem­por­ary quarter-cent hike in the sales tax, among oth­er meas­ures, in a bid to help re­solve Cali­for­nia’s dire fisc­al situ­ation.

    In all, more than 750 new laws take ef­fect Jan.1.

    Con­tro­versy sur­roun­ded the bid to per­mit per­haps hun­dreds of thou­sands of young il­leg­al im­mig­rants to qual­i­fy for state driver’s li­censes. The new law ap­plies to those giv­en a work per­mit as part of an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­gram that sus­pends de­port­a­tion for many people who ar­rived il­leg­ally as chil­dren.

    Also con­ten­tious was the Dream Act, ap­proved in 2011 but tak­ing ef­fect today, al­low­ing stu­dents in the coun­try il­leg­ally to re­ceive tax­pay­er-fin­anced aid to at­tend uni­versit­ies and col­leges. The Cali­for­nia Stu­dent Aid Com­mis­sion ex­pects about 20,000 people to ap­ply for such as­sist­ance,said ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Di­ana Fuentes-Michel.

    The ban on openly car­ry­ing un­loaded rifles and shot­guns in pub­lic in urb­an areas was largely a re­sponse to gun own­ers tak­ing long guns in­to their neigh­bor­hood cof­fee shops and parks as a demon­stra­tion of their 2nd Amend­ment rights.

    Gun own­ers said the ban would in­fringe on their right to carry arms. But it passed with the back­ing of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and L.A. County Sher­iff Lee Baca.

    The courts have been en­lis­ted in a dis­pute over a new law pro­hib­it­ing the prac­tice of “con­ver­sion ther­apy” on minors in an ef­fort to change their sexu­al ori­ent­a­tion from gay to straight. Judges have dis­agreed over its mer­its, but a fed­er­al ap­peals court has blocked the law from tak­ing ef­fect.

    New pub­lic pen­sion rules are aimed at sav­ing the two largest re­tire­ment sys­tems $78 bil­lion over the next 30 years. Pub­lic em­ploy­ees hired after Jan. 1 will have to wait longer to re­tire — up to age 67 for max­im­um be­ne­fits for many work­ers — and there will be new lim­its on how much pay they can col­lect.

    New laws take ef­fect in many oth­er areas as well:

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    Cars and drivers

    Insurance: Drivers pulled over by police are permitted to show officers their proof of insurance on an electronic device, such as a smartphone.

    Red-light cameras: New statewide guidelines prohibit use of the cameras primarily to raise revenue and make it easier for drivers to challenge tickets issued on evidence from the devices.

    Texting: Drivers may dictate, send and listen to text-based communications as long as they use voice-command or other hands-free technology.

    Toll lanes: Solo drivers of hybrid vehicles are exempted from toll charges in “high-occupancy toll,” or HOT, lanes on parts of I-15 in San Diego and I-680 in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

    Used cars: Buy Here Pay Here lots that offer their own financing must post fair-market values on their autos and provide 1,000-mile, 30-day warranties on vehicles they sell.
    Read The Times series: Wheels of Fortune

    Vanity plates: State lawmakers no longer get a discount on vanity license plates.

    Education

    Charter schools: School districts gain greater authority to close charter schools that fail to make sufficient academic progress.

    College textbooks: A new website, to be developed in coming months, will give students free digital access to 50 textbooks for lower-division courses in the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. Hard copies will cost $20.

    Fees: California State University may not establish, adjust or reallocate student fees without the approval of student representatives, must justify any increase and may not raise fees after the first 90 days of the school year.

    Tests: The Academic Performance Index, which has been based entirely on student test scores, is changed to give test scores no more than 60% of the scale and include other factors such as graduation rates.

    Employers and workers

    Religious garb: California employers may not shunt Sikh and Muslim employees to work areas out of public view for wearing clothing or hairstyles, such as turbans, hijabs or beards, because of their religious beliefs.

    Retirement: The state will create a panel to study the feasibility of a government-run retirement plan for low-wage private-sector workers.

    Workers’ compensation: Payments to employees permanently disabled in job-related accidents will increase by $740 million, and employers will receive a break on premiums.

    Food and drink

    Beer: Certain microbrews aged in wooden barrels that previously held spirits will be licensed, regulated and labeled as beer throughout California.

    Home-cooked food: Californians may sell certain homemade foods and baked goods, including bread, fruit pies, jams and dried nuts, to stores, to restaurants and directly to consumers.

    Healthcare

    Abortion: A study program that allows non-surgical abortions by a limited number of nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants is extended for two years.

    Birth control: Registered nurses are permitted to give hormonal contraceptives to women by order of a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner or physician assistant in some clinical settings.

    Hollywood

    Babies: Parents must have a doctor’s permission before being granted an entertainment work permit for infants 1 month old or younger.

    Child actors: Registered sex offenders are barred from representing minors working in the entertainment industry. Criminal background checks are required for managers, publicists, photographers and other adults who have unsupervised access to young performers.
    Read Times coverage: Case dropped against casting director over sex crime disclosure

    Film taxes: The state’s tax credits for films and television shows made in California are extended for two years, providing up to $200 million in breaks for the industry.

    Props: Red tape is reduced for permits to use sawed-off shotguns as props in film and television productions.

    The Internet

    Crime: The Los Angeles County sheriff is required to help state authorities determine whether Internet-related crimes, including identity theft and child molestation, are a significant problem requiring new state laws.

    Privacy: University officials and private employers are forbidden to ask students, workers or job applicants for their email passwords or those for social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook.

    Telephone service: State agencies are banned from regulating Internet phone service. This extends a current “hands-off” policy by the California Public Utilities Commission.

    Landlords, tenants and homeowners

    Foreclosures: A tenant renting a property that is in foreclosure may keep possession of it until the lease expires. Another law guarantees struggling homeowners a reliable point of contact at their lender, imposes civil penalties on fraudulently signed mortgage documents and bans foreclosures on borrowers who are in loan-modification proceedings.

    Pets: Landlords are not permitted to require that tenants declaw their cats or cut vocal cords in their dogs.

    Rent: California landlords may not require that rent be paid online.

    Law enforcement

    Child abuse: The list of people subject to criminal liability for failing to report suspected child abuse is expanded to include coaches at elementary and secondary schools, college employees who interact with minors, commercial computer technicians and those who process film, video or computer images.

    Stadium violence: Sports arenas and stadiums must post contact information for security personnel that is visible from seating and parking areas, so help can be summoned quickly if violence occurs.

    Underage killers: Inmates serving life in prison for murders they committed as juveniles may apply after 25 years for a reduction of their prison term.

    Parks and Wildlife

    Animal fighting: Maximum fines double from $5,000 to $10,000 for people convicted of causing bears, bulls and roosters to fight with other animals or with humans.

    Conservation: The state Department of Fish and Game must provide greater emphasis on conservation. Its name is changed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    Hunting: Dogs may not be used to hunt bears and bobcats.

    State parks: The parks department must create a plan for increasing private revenue to operate the sites. Californians may apply a portion of their state tax refund to the parks in exchange for an annual park pass.

    Public Transit

    Bullet train: Members of the governing board of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority must publicly identify any financial interest they have in board decisions and disqualify themselves from acting on those matters. Read Times coverage: Cities in bullet train’s path have mixed reactions

    Veterans

    Benefits: State benefits rescinded due to a military discharge based solely on sexual orientation are to be restored if the federal government reinstates eligibility.

    License plates: Fees for personalized veterans’ license plates are increased to provide more money to the County Veterans Service Officer Fund, which aids veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services.

    Sport licenses: The cost of sports-fishing and hunting licenses is reduced for active military personnel recovering from injuries or illnesses.

    Welfare

    Food stamps: Reimbursements will be made to those in a federally funded food stamp program called CalFresh if funds are stolen from their electronic benefit card accounts.

    Published: Dec. 31, 2012
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