New Year — New Laws

The National Conference of State Legislatures website has published a “wide range of legislation” taking place in 2011 across all 50 states.

California laws include:

Corrections

California has established a medical parole program for inmates permanently medically incapacitated who would not pose a risk to public safety if released. These inmates will be paroled to less costly medical facilities that are better suited to provide their care.  California SB 1399

A new California law establishes an alternative-to-incarceration program for female inmates, pregnant inmates, or inmates who were the primary caregivers of dependent children. The program will use electronic monitoring to supervise these inmates in the community while they participate in programs such as substance abuse treatment, educational or vocational training, and parenting classes. California SB 1266

California will now require that all parolees who are transferred from any other state or the federal government be assessed using the current risk assessment tool that is used for California sex offenders. This will ensure that parole agents are aware of the risk of re-offending by all of their parolees, not just those released from California prisons. California SB 1201

Crime

California enacted “Chelsea’s Law,” which increases penalties for forcible sex acts against minors, creates a penalty of life without the possibility of parole for specific sex acts against minors, creates safe zones around parks, and mandates lifetime parole for certain sex offenses. California AB 1844

Cyber Crimes

Malicious, credible impersonation through a website, e-mail account or social media will become a crime in California punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in county jail. The law makes “harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding another person” online and without their consent a misdemeanor. It allows the victim to sue the imitator for damages and losses. Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts and Texas also have laws targeting harassing electronic impersonation. California SB 1411

Drug Policy

Any adult in California over the age of 18 carrying no more than 28.5 grams of marijuana will now be guilty of an infraction, rather than a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of no more than $100. This law also makes the possession of unauthorized concentrated cannabis an offense with punishment of up to a year in jail or a fine of no more than $500. Possession of more than 28.5 grams without a medical permit is subject to criminal prosecution but at reduced sentences of fines up to $500 and/or six months of jail time. California SB1449

A California law prohibits any medical marijuana cooperative, collective, dispensary, operator, establishment, or provider who possesses, cultivates or distributes medical marijuana from being located within 600 feet of a public or private K-12 school.  California AB 2650

Education

Under California’s new truancy law, parents of K-8 children who miss more than 10 percent of the school year without a valid excuse can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The bill also authorizes local districts to require whatever family services are needed to get the children back to school. California SB 1317

Environment

A new California law allows a home inspection, upon a client’s request, to include an audit of the energy efficiency of the home in order to develop reliable information on the energy efficiency level of homes to help produce cost-effective investments. California AB 1809

Housing

If a tenant is renting a property in California that is foreclosed upon and sold, the new owner of the property must provide information on tenants’ rights after foreclosure and advise them to seek legal help. The new law also prohibits court clerks from releasing records regarding evictions from residential properties that have been sold in foreclosure unless the plaintiff prevails within 60 days of filing against all defendants. California SB 1149

California also has increased the criminal punishment for taking an abandoned residential property and renting it out to another person without the owner’s consent. California AB 1800

Public Health

Starting Jan. 1, children’s jewelry that contains cadmium is banned from being sold in California. The state already prohibits lead in children’s jewelry. California SB 929

California became the first, on Jan. 1, 2010, to prohibit oil, shortening or margarine containing artificial trans fats in restaurants and other food facilities. Beginning Jan 1, 2011, the original law will extend to other foods containing artificial trans fats, primarily baked goods. California AB 97

California lawmakers have also enacted a new law requiring free drinking water for students in school cafeterias or food service areas. Schools must comply by July 1, 2011. California SB 1413

Safety

California lawmakers heightened penalties for reckless driving while attempting to photograph or capture other types of images or impressions of individuals. This anti-paparazzi law provides for liability under the civil invasion of privacy statute along with other damages and remedies. It is aimed at those who commit “false imprisonment” by driving recklessly or blocking sidewalks in order to take photographs or make recordings of celebrities. California AB 2479

California will protect anyone under the age of 21 from prosecution for possession or consumption of alcohol when that person is the first to report an alcohol-related medical emergency and remains on the scene until medical personnel arrive. California AB 1999

Landlords in California will no longer be allowed to terminate a lease based on domestic violence against the tenant or tenant’s household members. The law also requires landlords to change the exterior locks of a tenant’s dwelling no later than 24 hours after the tenant provides a written request with supporting court or police documentation.  California SB 782

California will soon require all children under the age of 18, including patrollers and resort employees, to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding. Resorts will be required to post notice about the law, including on trail maps and resort websites. California SB 880

A blue alert system in California, similar to the Amber Alert System, will notify the public when a law enforcement officer has been attacked. California SB 839

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