New laws

Jan 2, 2014

Hundreds of new laws take effect this year, and most of them will go unnoticed by all but a relative few. But there are some major new statutes out there, too. Here's a lineup.


From the Bee's Jeremy White: "Bills that crossed Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in 2013 encompassed policy topics from bullets to bike safety. In some cases Brown signed legislation that enshrined key Democratic goals, reflecting the strength of robust Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature."


"A few of those bills, including one hiking the state minimum wage and one requiring cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists, won’t take effect for a few months. But that still leaves plenty of substantial measures that become operative state law today. Here’s a look at some highlights."

The final round of a multi-year phaseout of incandescent light bulbs began Wednesday, so if you like the warmth and glow of an old-fashioned bulb you're too late.


From the LAT's Shan Li: "Beginning Jan. 1, the production of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs is banned as part of efficiency standards signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007."


"The government phased out 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulb over the last few years. But the latest ban will have a bigger effect on consumers because 40- and 60-watt light bulbs are the most popular on the market, according to research firm IMS Research."


Someone set the Chinese consulate afire in San Francisco and authorities are looking for clues.


From the NYT's Gerry Mullany: "The consulate said that an unidentified attacker had poured two buckets of gasoline onto the front door of the consulate and set it on fire, causing severe damage. No one was injured."


“The arson attack is a violent crime targeted at the Chinese consular institution in the United States, causing severe damage to the consulate facilities and posing a threat to the safety of the consulate staff and the residents living nearby,” said a statement by the consulate. “We urge the U.S. side to take all necessary measures to provide adequate protection for Chinese consular personnel and properties, and bring the culprit(s) to justice as soon as possible.”


A former lawmaker making a run for state controller has shut down his campaign committee in the wake of an unprecedented fine levied by the state's political watchdog.


From the Bee's Jim Miller: "Former state Sen. Dean Florez has closed his 2014 campaign committee for state controller after paying off a $60,000 fine for misusing campaign funds, the largest such penalty in state history."


"Although California law allows politicians to tap political donations to pay fines imposed by the state's campaign-finance watchdog, Florez paid $50,500 out of his own pocket. About $9,500 was money remaining in his controller's committee,according to a filing Friday afternoon."


"The $60,000 fine came after Florez admitting spending $26,542 from committees he established to run for lieutenant governor and state controller on trips, meals and entertainment. He also failed to refund $247,000 in contributions."


Wind-generated energy is a cherished goal of many environmentalists, but the huge blades are a problem for birds. So what's the answer?


From the Contra Costa Times' Jeremy Thomas: "They're touted as the future of energy production -- clean, efficient and renewable. But there's a dark side to wind turbines for local wildlife -- towers and spinning blades kill thousands of birds and bats on the Altamont Pass east of Livermore each year."


"While the hazards there aren't unique, recent studies suggest up to twice as many birds are killed every year at the Altamont Wind Resource Area (AWRA) than previously indicated by official estimates. Independent researcher Shawn Smallwood, head of ongoing mortality surveys in the Sand Hill area and other parts of the Altamont, estimates 10,000 birds are killed each year. It's particularly dangerous for golden eagles; about 60 die annually, he says, making it among the most lethal zones for the species in the country, based on available records."

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