Statutes target smoking in cars, solar subsidies | SierraSun.com

Statutes target smoking in cars, solar subsidies

Steve Lawrence
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO (AP) ” Lighting up behind the wheel will become an expensive habit in California if there are kids in the car.

Starting Tuesday, motorists could be hit with fines of up to $100 for smoking in a vehicle containing a child.

The ban is among hundreds of changes in state law that take effect with the new year. Others include the second increase in the minimum wage in 12 months and measures to require more efficient lights, promote solar water heaters and ease the way for more homeless shelters.

Illegal immigration legislation by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, prevents cities and counties from requiring landlords to serve as surrogate border patrol agents by obtaining and reporting the immigration status of their tenants. The measure also prohibits ordinances preventing landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

Other laws that take effect with the start of the new year:

LIGHTS, WATER ” Legislation by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, gives the California Energy Commission until the end of 2008 to develop tougher efficiency standards for general purpose lights. Other Huffman bills authorize a $250 million subsidy program to encourage installation of solar water heaters and require the Energy Commission to establish water-efficiency standards for the design of new buildings.

HOMELESS SHELTERS ” A new law written by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, is intended to remove roadblocks for homeless shelters by requiring cities and counties to designate areas where shelters can be located without obtaining a conditional use permit.

IDENTIFICATION DEVICES ” Legislation by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, prohibits an employer or anyone else from requiring a person to have a radio frequency identification device inserted under the skin. The devices, about the size of a rice grain, can be used to track and transmit personal information about the user.

FLOOD CONTROL ” Cities and counties could be forced to cover a share of the damage caused by flooding if they approve new development without considering flood risks, under legislation by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento. A related bill by Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, will require cities and counties in the flood-prone Central Valley to follow new flood protection requirements in making land-use decisions.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ” Legislation by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, prevents cities and counties from requiring landlords to serve as surrogate border patrol agents by obtaining and reporting the immigration status of their tenants. The measure also prohibits ordinances preventing landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

HIV TESTING ” A law written by Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka, makes it more likely that people will be routinely tested for HIV and AIDS. The measure drops a requirement that patients fill out a form to have the tests. They only would have to give a doctor verbal consent to add HIV to other conditions for which they are being tested.

SPERM CLEANSING ” Legislation by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, allows sperm from a man with HIV to be used to artificially inseminate a wife or partner who does not have the disease if the woman consents and the sperm is processed to minimize the possibility of infection.

IRAN INVESTMENTS ” The state’s two giant public pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, will be prohibited from investing in companies that have defense- or nuclear energy-related business with Iran. The bill is by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa.

PHONY MUSIC ” Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, is the author of a law that attempts to ensure that music fans who buy tickets to oldies concerts are not victims of deceptive advertising. An example: The group must include at least one member who has the legal right to use the name. Bands also can avoid lawsuits by acknowledging they are a salute or tribute to the original recording group and had a name that did not confuse ticket buyers.

GIFT CERTIFICATES ” A law written by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, allows shoppers to cash in gift certificates that have less than $10 left in value. Consumer advocates say that will prevent stores from benefiting from an “undeserved bonanza” generated by unexhausted gift certificates that stores have refused to trade for cash.

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On the Net: http://www.assembly.ca.gov and http://www.senate.ca.gov