TRUCKEE, Calif. - California legislators are never afraid to add new laws to the books and this year is no exception. Governor Jerry Brown signed 873 bills into law, most taking effect January 1st. Here's a sampling.
• Prop 30: Who could forget Governor Brown's voter-approved sales tax increase which went into effect this week.
• Driverless Vehicles: SB 1298 now allows the testing of driverless vehicles on public roads, although a human must be in the car in case of an emergency. I can see it now, "Chevy, pickup the girls at school and while you're at it, stop by Safeway and bring home a six-pack."
• Red-Light Cameras: A new law tightens restrictions on the use of red-light traffic cameras at intersections and clarifies conflicting court opinions by declaring that evidence from these cameras is not hearsay, which means the photos are admissible, thus giving red-light cameras credence in court.
• Social Media Privacy: Two separate bills reach out to protect social media privacy. SB 1349 prohibits public and private universities from requiring students to disclose user names or passwords for social media like Facebook, while AB1844 prohibits employers from demanding a worker's or a job seeker's username or password. Information available without a password can and often is used by universities and employers, so be mindful young folks.
• Bear Hunts: It is now unlawful to use dogs to hunt bears and bobcats except when dogs are guarding crops or livestock or when hunting with a depredation permit. Although it's commonly done, I never liked the idea of having dogs chase bears up a tree, then shooting them out of the tree. I guess I am not alone. Also, poaching wild game fines are dramatically increased, and that's okay with me.
• Ronald Reagan Statue: In this terribly important bill, a Ronald Reagan statue is now authorized at the State Capitol.
• Mental Retardation: Under AB 2370, the phrase "mental retardation" is changed to "intellectual disability."
• 9-1-1 Calls: A new Good Samaritan law keeps a person from being arrested on drug use or possession charges after summoning medical help with a 9-1-1 call for an overdose involving themselves or someone else. The purpose is to encourage
9-1-1 calls to seek medical help for drug or alcohol overdose.
• Homemade Food: AB 1616 legalizes and sets standards for selling different products made in home kitchens, such as bread, tortillas, cookies and jams. I'll check this out and detail the bill in a future column.
• Space Travel: Here is an important new law. AB 2243 limits the liability of commercial space flight firms as long as they aren't grossly negligent and don't intentionally injure someone. Thank goodness.
• Elections: This one is interesting although I have read nothing about it. AB 1436 allows qualified residents to register to vote up to and on Election Day. The law takes effect in 2014 at the earliest. Sounds like the details need to be worked out.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. He was the Governor's appointee to the California Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. Jim's practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, foreclosures, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the firm's website www.portersimon.com.