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Social Media Privacy, Gay Therapy Ban, Top New Laws for 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown signed nearly 1,000 bills into law in 2012; here's an overview of what goes into effect Jan. 1.

Job-hunters no longer need to worry about scanning their Facebook pages for any embarrassing tidbits before applying for work, thanks to two new laws that will go on the books in the coming weeks.

The social media privacy laws protect job-seekers and prospective students from having to share social media user names and passwords during the application process.

Those laws are among the 873 regular session bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2012; many will take effect Jan. 1.

Discrimination

  • Eliminating on-the-job discrimination is the focus of two new laws. One expands the definition of "sex" under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include breastfeeding. The other clarifies that the state's discrimination laws make reasonable accommodations for religious dress and grooming practices.
  • AB 2370 replaces “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.”

'Good Samaritan' Overdose Prevention Law

This law encourages people to call 911 and seek medical help for someone experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose without fear of being prosecuted for minor drug crimes.

“Reassuring all Californians that calling 911 is safe and the right thing to do when someone’s life is on the line is essential,” Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said.

She also pointed out that this isn't a get-of-jail-free card. Drug dealers and motorists driving under the influence still would face legal ramifications.

Banning Therapies to 'Cure' Gay Minors

The law states therapists can't provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation. California is the first in the nation to prohibit such practices.

Motorist and Vehicle Laws

  • A person who has been arrested and is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs no longer has the option of a urine test. Prior to this change, a person had the option of submitting either urine or blood to determine the drug content of their blood.
  • California drivers can use hands-free technology to talk and text while driving. This will require the use of a device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send or listen to a text-based communication.
  • Drivers will now have the option of providing proof of insurance and registration on an electronic device such as smartphones or tablets.
  • Driverless cars can be operated on public roads for testing purposes, provided that each vehicle has a fully licensed and bonded operator in the driver’s seat to take control if necessary.
  • Similar to an AMBER Alert, the CHP would activate a “Silver Alert” upon request if a person, age 65 or older, is reported missing to a law enforcement agency and that agency determines that certain criteria are met.
  • A new law allows driver’s license applicants who provide satisfactory proof that their presence in the U.S. is authorized under federal law, but who are not eligible for Social Security numbers, to be eligible to receive original licenses if they meet all other qualifications for the card.
  • There will be consistency statewide in the operations of red-light enforcement cameras by requiring governmental agencies to follow specified guidelines regarding intersections, signage and the notice to appear.
  • Hospitals, clinics, and birthing centers will now be required to provide and discuss contact information regarding child safety seat requirements, installation, and inspection to parents and caregivers upon discharge of a child, if the child is younger than 8.

Proposition 30

State sales tax increases a quarter-cent Jan. 1, a voter-approved measure that will fund public safety and education. The law also ups income taxes for those who make more than $250,000 of taxable income annually.

Look up all of the new laws in this state database.

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