The California Legislature enacted about 750 laws during 2011. Some counted 745 and other reports say 760 laws were passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Most of these became effective Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, although some are delayed until July 1, 2012.
Below is a list of some of the new laws which Californians must begin observing.
Child seat restraints
All children 8 years or younger are required to be secured in a car seat or booster seat if they are riding in a vehicle. Even children older than 8 years must be in a car seat if their heads are not above the front seats. See www.chp.ca.gov/community/child_safetyseat_faqs.html for a full explanation.
Violating the law can result in the parents or driver receiving a ticket for more than $475 and a point on their driving record.
Infants and toddlers are not the only youngsters affected by the raft of restrictive new laws. People (or as the legislation says, children) younger than 18 years old may not use tanning beds. Use will be restricted to adults.
Over-the-counter cough medicine
Cough medicines containing Dextromethorphan cannot be sold to minors without the provision of a doctor’s prescription. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant commonly found in many over-the-counter cold and cough medicines, such as Robitussin, Nyquil, Dimetapp, Vicks, Coricidin, Delsym and others, including generic labels.
Technical classes as electives
The legislature is now permitting school districts to allow students to substitute a career technical class for a foreign language or visual or performing arts class towards high school graduation credits.
A year ago, the legislature required 100-watt incandescent light bulbs manufactured in California to use no more than 72 watts or less of energy. Incandescent bulbs have not been banned in California, but manufacturers must produce bulbs that use less energy.
Although you can start saving money on your electric bill now by replacing your inefficient incandescent bulbs with more efficient bulbs, the new standard does not affect light bulbs already in use, only those manufactured in 2011 or later.
On Jan. 1, 2012, the 75-watt bulb energy use must be reduced to 53 watts and one year later, Jan. 1, 2013, the 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs must use no more than 29 and 43 watts respectively.
Another step in the Legislature’s continuing effort to conserve energy is the new requirement that public utilities will have to obtain a third of their energy from renewable sources beginning in 2020. The existing target was 20 percent.
New voters will be offered the opportunity to register online in the future.
Consolidation of ballot measures
Beginning in 2012, no more ballot measures will appear on primary election ballots. All initiatives will be required to be placed on the general-election ballot where voter turnout is generally higher.
A 51-page pdf document identifying all of the new state laws is available for download by clicking here.