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California’s Newest Laws Take Effect January 1, 2017!

~ California mandates rear-facing car seats for kids till they're 2! Children younger than 2 must sit in rear-facing car seats, Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed a measure that requires children younger than 2 to sit in a rear-facing child-safety seat while traveling in a vehicle. The bill, AB 53 by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), will not apply to children who weigh more than 40 pounds or are 40 inches or taller. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

"According to medical professionals, the heads of young children are heavier, and their necks and spinal cords are not fully developed. In an accident, young children facing forward have a 75% greater chance of injuring their spines or even breaking their necks, due to impact."

~ The state’s ban on texting while driving expands to include other distractions, such as searching for “Pokemon Go” characters. The state Assembly on Tuesday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure that would expand the ban on texting while driving to include other distracting operations of smartphones, including searching for "Pokemon Go" characters. The bill, which prohibits using a handheld device in a way that distracts from driving, is “an important step in reducing distracted-driving accidents, injuries and deaths,” Quirk told his colleagues. The bill also plugs a loophole that has made it difficult for law enforcement to enforce existing laws.

~ Companies including Uber and Lyft can no longer hire drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years.

Companies including Uber and Lyft can no longer hire drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years.

~ School districts must improve bus driver training to avoid students being left alone on buses and must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if students are left behind. Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) drafted the measure that requires school buses, youth buses and child care motor vehicles to be equipped by the 2018-19 school year with alert systems that will require drivers to manually disarm or scan an alarm at the rear of the bus before exiting the bus. The new law also requires school districts to improve the training of drivers to avoid students being left on buses alone and requires notification of the Department of Motor Vehicles about some incidents involving students being left behind.

~ Need a new car? A program providing electric-car rebates will now only be available to those making $150,000 a year or less. The other bills Brown signed will determine how some of the money is spent. Electric-car rebates will now be available only to those making $150,000 a year or less.

Another measure would increase the percentage of climate-related dollars going toward low-income communities. A third would create and fund a new program for disadvantaged communities to develop local efforts to combat climate change, such as more low-income housing and pedestrian walkways.

~ Criminals, Karma will get you! Brought by the sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, California eliminated statutes of limitations for rape and some other sex crimes. That means if a crime happens after Dec. 31, 2016, the victim can report it at any point in the future and see it prosecuted; previous law generally limited prosecution to within 10 years.

~ In response to outrage over the six-month sentence for sexual assault given to former Stanford student Brock Turner, prison time will be mandatory for those convicted of assault in which the victim was unconscious or not capable of giving consent because of intoxication. County prosecutors can pursue felony charges against people caught with the most common date-rape drugs and who also have demonstrated the intent to commit a sexual assault. Convicted sex offenders involved in Internet-related crimes must report their email addresses, user names and other Internet identifiers to police.

~ Bullied at School? Public schools can now expel students for bullying through video or sexting. State education officials will be required to publish information on sexual cyberbullying online and encourage schools to teach students about sexting.

~ Lifestyle change, smoking or use of electronic cigarettes within 250 feet of any Little League baseball game or other youth sports event is now illegal.

Beauty salons and barbershops can now offer patrons a free beer or glass of wine.

Denim is now the state’s official fabric to recognize its role in California history.

Every autographed collectible sold in California must come with a certificate that verifies it's not a forgery, under a bill backed by famed “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill.

~ Healthcare, patients who go to their insurance’s in-network hospital, lab or other health facility will not face surprise, larger charges if the doctor or health worker treating them is not in the network.

California businesses and public agencies are authorized to have on hand medicine designed to combat severe, emergency allergic reactions.

Women can pick up an entire year's worth of birth control pills at once, and health plans must cover the cost.

To counter a spike in opioid overdose deaths, prescribers must check a state database to see whether their patients also have received drugs from other physicians. Terminally ill Californians will have the “right to try” experimental drugs that do not yet have full federal approval for clinical trials.

~ Love animals, want to save an animal trapped in a car in heat or cold? As long as you call authorities first, you won’t be held legally liable for breaking into the car.

Dog kennels and pet hotels must check on animals once a day and provide elevated platforms in cat enclosures. A dog seized from criminal fighting rings will no longer automatically be labeled “vicious” which leads to it being euthanized. Instead, each dog will be evaluated to see whether it can be rehabilitated to safely re-enter society or be placed in a sanctuary.

Carbon monoxide gas chambers are banned in animal shelters for euthanizing animals. Orca breeding and performance programs, like the one formerly run by SeaWorld theme parks, will be outlawed starting in June.

These are just a few of the laws that are coming into effect, to read about the rest please visit the State of California website. I encourage you to lookup the new laws to familiarize yourself with them.

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