New Year Brings New State Legislation

Caroline Cook and Caroline Cook

Californians welcomed the new year with hopes for better economic times, while hundreds of bills that Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law last year took effect in Jan. The state legislature added a total of 747 new laws this year including laws dealing with online impersonators, marijuana possession, 911 immunity legislation, and paparazzi restrictions.

SB 1449 (Marijuana Possession for Minors)
Reduces punishment for minors in possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction, with a maximum $100 fine when the amount does not exceed 28.5 grams. In addition, this law requires medical marijuana buyers’ clubs and dispensaries to be located at least 600 feet away from any K-12 school.

SB 1411 (Online Impersonation)

Credible impersonation of another person through an online or other electronic medium for the purpose of harming, intimidation, threatening, or defrauding is now a misdemeanor.

AB 1999 (911 Amnesty Bill)

Protects underage drinkers from legal prosecution when dialing 911 in an alcohol-related medical emergency. This legislation provides young people with the incentive to act immediately and seek medical help for a friend in emergencies, in order to prevent the number of potential alcohol-related tragedies.

AB 211 (School Safety)
Requires all new construction plans for schools to include doors that lock from the inside and outside.

SB 1317 (Truancy)
Parents who fail to supervise their chronically truant child’s school attendance (after being offered support services) can now be charged with a misdemeanor and face a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

AB 1280 (Crimes against Children)
AB 1280, also known as Adam’s Law, tightens the penalty (life without possibility of parole) for abuse by a parent or other caregiver causing a child under eight to enter into a coma or become permanently paralyzed.

AB 2479 (Paparazzi Restrictions)

Establishes tailgating or reckless driving to capture a photo or tape recording of someone for commercial purposes as a misdemeanor. If the targeted subject happens to be a child, the consequences could total one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Paparazzi can also be liable for damages and fines if they use a hired third party as a scapegoat in order to obtain the desired content. In the past, paparazzi have temporarily hired drifters to obtain audio recordings or photographs, shielding themselves from getting caught in the act.

AB 962 (Handgun Ammunition)

Restricts sales and deliveries of handgun ammunition to in-person transactions. In addition, buyers of handgun ammunition must provide identification and thumbprints, or the seller will face misdemeanor charges.