Jan. 1, 2010 ushered in more than a new decade. Friday was the first day many new pieces of California legislation went into effect.
Over 700 new laws were passed, ranging from civil rights issues to more mundane “clean-up” bills – or laws that change or extend the wording of a previous law.
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) brought nine new laws into 2010. Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff, said 2010 was not a year for landmark laws in California, or nationwide. The economy kept lawmakers at bay; money and tax dependent ideas were low on government representatives’ priorities.
One of Yee’s key bills for 2010 included a consumer protection bill, SB 340, which aims to make companies’ cancellation policies and other fine print information more transparent.
“We’re hopeful that deceptive practices will no longer happen,” Keigwin said.
With Yee’s background as a child psychologist, his bill to protect youth groups emphasized Yee’s priorities as a state representative. SB 447 will require coaches and youth leaders to go through a background check. Currently many groups such as youth soccer leagues and Boy Scout troops perform their own background checks. With SB 447, the Department of Justice will review records as an impartial third party reviewer.
Another local representative, Rep. Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) authored five new bills for 2010.
A key law will also help consumers at the Department of Motor Vehicles. AB 647 went into effect and requires the DMV to give more access and information about cars, including a more accessible Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) search system.
“We just felt that [there] was something that was costing California consumers 10 times as much for car information,” Yamada said.
Another new bill has a more personal connection to Yamada.
When a constituent in her district was part of a racial hate crime in 2006, Yamada worked to pass AB 1093, also known as “Taneka’s Law.” Taneka Talley, a young African-American woman, was stabbed to death while at work, but insurance complications prevented her son from receiving any of her death compensation benefits.
“[It was] a real life tragedy that needed to be remedied,” Yamada said. “All Californians need to be protected.”
The new law now protects any minorities against the vague language that failed to provide Taneka’s family insurance.
Statewide, new driving laws will make it to the roads this year.
The DUI Offenders Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Project will take effect later this year in various California counties, including Sacramento. This new law will require first time DUI offenders to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in the offender’s cars for five months to one year.
Recently, two new “Move Over” bills include SB 159 and SB 240. Cars must slow down and move over a lane from emergency vehicles. Another law adds flashing Caltrans vehicles as more to watch for on the roads.
Always looking forward, California representatives are already moving forward and working on next year’s agenda.
Yamada said her office will continue to look into the budget and how to save state money, especially by analyzing ways to integrate programs.
Another key issue for 2010 will be the census in April.
“Coming up on Apr. 1, 2010 is Census Day, which only happens every 10 years and it’s important to have an accurate census so political representation is correct,” Yamada said. “[April 1] shouldn’t be called April Fools day, but Census Day.”
Yee’s office said the senator will continue to work on domestic violence issues to protect victims and will reintroduce many bills from previous years.
“In the next two weeks, [we will look at] 40 or 50 ideas,” Keigwin said.
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at email@example.com.