New laws affect public smoking, payment of unlicensed contractors
Here are additional new laws effective Jan. 1 of this year.Serving minorsIt is a misdemeanor for a parent or legal guardian to permit someone under 18 to consume alcohol at home if the consumption results in the underage person having a blood alcohol level in excess of .05 percent and the parent or guardian permits the young person to drive and he or she causes a traffic accident.Killing clientsBeginning July 1, lawyers will be allowed to disclose clients’ plans to kill or seriously injure someone without worrying about violating attorney-client confidentiality. In the meantime, I guess we let our clients continue with their killing plans.Public smokingIn yet another anti-smoking move, it is not only unlawful to smoke inside a public building but also within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance or operable window of a public building. This probably puts smokers out from under building eaves, subject to rain and snow. Municipalities may enact more restrictive smoking and tobacco-controlled ordinances.Domestic partnersWe now have the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, which expands the rights and duties of domestic partners with respect to child custody, financial support, community property, debt assumption and other family matters to mirror those of married spouses. The proceedings for dissolution and nullity of domestic partnerships and legal separation of domestic partners is similar to equivalent marriage proceedings.Employment lawThere is whole slew of pro-employee laws we will cover in a future Law Review.Subdivision associationsA change in the Davis-Stirling Act requires common interest development associations, most subdivisions, to make accounting books, records, and minutes of proceedings available for inspection and copying by a member at any reasonable time. Associations may not use such records for commercial use.Unlicensed contractorsYet another change has been made to the Business & Professions Code, defining when an owner may recover compensation paid to an unlicensed contractor or, from the flip side, when a contractor may not recover payment from an owner if he is unlicensed.The contractor is deemed to be properly licensed if he or she 1. had been duly licensed prior to the performance of the contract, 2. acted reasonably and in good faith to maintain proper licenser, 3. did not know or reasonably should not have known that he or she was not licensed when performance of the act or contract commenced, and 4. acted promptly and in good faith to reinstate the license upon learning that it was invalid. This bill is intended to reflect existing law.Contractors, be forewarned that it takes months to change your individual license into a corporation, due to delays at the licensing board. Operate and invoice under the name and license of record. If for whatever reason you are not licensed, you may not go to court to recover payment for work while you were unlicensed, even if you do a perfect job. Now that’s a penalty!Subdivision flagsSubdivisions with common areas may not adopt rules prohibiting subdivision residents from displaying non-commercial signs and flags.Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter — Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the firm’s Web site: http://www.portersimon.com.