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New year, new laws

California will ring in 2013 with new laws covering a wide range of issues, including drunk driving, bear hunting, Internet privacy and the price of college textbooks.  

Hundreds of new laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will take effect on New Year’s Day, along with the quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by voters as part of Proposition 30. 


The following are a few of the new regulations Californians will encounter in 2013: 


With a few exceptions, people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs will now be required to undergo a blood test rather than a chemical urine test. 

The new rule, Assembly Bill 2020, will help law enforcement officials and prosecutors identify and convict drivers under the influence of a drug or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and drug, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Assembly Bill 2189 will make young undocumented immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses if they qualify for a federal work permit program and meet certain other criteria. 

Drivers will also be able to purchase “legacy” vintage-style California license plates starting in January. 

In another change, boat registration fees will increase next year to help pay for the monitoring of mussels in California waterways. The amount of the increase has yet to be determined but won’t exceed $10, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 


Starting Jan. 1, Senate Bill 1221 will ban the use of hunting dogs to track bears and bobcats in California, over the opposition of hunters in rural areas like the Mother Lode. 

The law was supported by the U.S. Humane Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Sierra Club California. 

Proponents said the practice of hunting bears and bobcats with dogs was inhumane for all the animals involved, including the dogs. 

Earlier this year, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, expressing its opposition on the grounds that dogs are a tool used by ranchers for wildlife management. They also said the bill will cause the county to lose revenue from hunters spending money locally on gas, food and supplies. 

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors sent its own letter of opposition this year. Tuolumne County has been one of the state’s top spots for bear hunting, largely because of its vast swaths of public land. 

Gun rights

Brown signed legislation in 2012 that will ban the open display of unloaded rifles in California cities, punishable by jail terms and fines of up to $1,000. 

The controversial law, Assembly Bill 1527, will not apply to private businesses or property, unincorporated areas or vehicle racks. 

Retired peace officers and people selling firearms are among those covered by a relatively long list of exemptions. 

Assembly Bill 1527 accompanies a ban on the display of handguns signed into law last year. 


California college students who’ve been shelling out thousands of dollars for textbooks may catch a badly needed break for the 2013-14 school year, thanks to a pair of new laws that will create a free online library. 

Textbooks in 50 lower-division courses at the University of California, California State University and California Community College schools will be placed into a “California Open Source Digital Library.” 

The books, to be developed by the universities themselves, will also be available as hard copies for a cost of about $20 each. However, the bill indicates that the program is contingent on state funding. 

Though it won’t take effect for a year, another law will affect the increasing number of Mother Lode parents who choose not to vaccinate their children before they enter school. Starting in January 2014, they will need to obtain signed waivers showing that they’ve received information about the risks and benefits of vaccinations. 

Internet privacy

Don’t feel like forking over your Facebook information during a job interview? You’re in luck. 

Starting in 2013, Assembly Bill 1844 will prohibit employers from asking prospective hires for user names and passwords to their social media accounts. 

An accompanying law, Senate Bill 1349, will give the same protection to college students and prospective students. 

Some employers have scrutinized social media accounts as part of the hiring process, but the practice drew criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, social media companies and prospective employees — who may have unprofessional pictures of themselves posted online.  

Landlords and renters

Effective New Year’s Day, apartment buildings, hotels and multi-family residences in California must have carbon monoxide detectors. 

The requirement applies to buildings with fireplaces or heating elements that use fossil fuels and those with attached garages. 

The new regulation is part of the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010. Landlords and homeowners were required to install carbon monoxide detectors in single-family residences by July 1, 2011. 

Landlords or building owners must install carbon monoxide detectors before tenants take possession. However, tenants are responsible for notifying their landlords if their carbon monoxide detector is defective. 

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