Once again, the California Legislature was hard at work in 2016 passing 893 laws, most of which went into effect on New Year’s Day, 2017. While most of them are probably relevant addressing critical issues, there are a few that provide wonderment, invoking the question, “why?” and “what is the true motivation, here?” (or in mediator speak, “what is the underlying needs and interests prompting this enactment”?)
Each of the laws below can be found in the 60-page table at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pdf/BillsEnactedReport2016.pdf
One of the more interesting ones is AB 501. It recognizes the large denim industry in California by noting that “…about 75 percent of the premium denim jeans sold throughout the world….” are made in California and that this industry “employs more than 200,000 people in southern California alone, making it the largest fashion manufacturing hub in the United States….” (Does this include counterfeit jeans?) Consequently, the Legislature has declared “denim” as the official state fabric.
AB 2273 provides that a member of the active state militia, such as the California National Guard can NOT be “… prosecuted for a military crime based on an attempt to kill himself or herself.” Thus, insult will not be added to the injury of a failed suicide attempt. However, the new law does require that the Adjutant General ensure that the member receive the obviously very much needed mental health counseling, services etc.
Under the California Racial Mascots Act (AB 30), public schools can no longer use the term “Redskins” as part of their athletic team name, mascot or nickname. I guess given the large native American population and the amount of revenue its casinos provide to the state, the legislature believed it fitting to affirm the federal and state ban on racial discrimination.
The next law, while superficially seems silly, does have a serious back story. AB 2755 now provides for money damages in a civil action for the “…wrongful and willful taking, possessing, harboring or transporting of a beehive, for the wrongful and willful removal of bees from their beehive, or the wrongful and willful killing or destroying of bees.” According to this bill, California has the largest beekeeping industry in the United States but in recent years, due to Colony Collapse Disorder, and other things, this industry has been decimated which has created a serious threat to our food supply. (The bees, besides making honey, pollinate our crops.) Thus, it is now a serious thing to mess with our bees.
You may have read in the news that a concession contractor in Yosemite National Park trademarked the names of its famous hotels, thereby precluding its use by others after the lease with that contractor expired. (See: https://touchstoneclimbing.com/the-yosemite-landmark-trade-dispute-explained/ ) To prevent this from happening again, AB 2249- the California Heritage Protection Act- prohibits “…a concession contract from providing a contracting party with a trademark, or service mark interest in the name or names associated with a state park venue….”.
The next law makes perfect sense; any public building belonging to the state, county or municipality that flies the Flag of the United States must use one that has been made in the United States. That is, it cannot have a tag on it that says, “Made in China” (Four million dollars worth were imported in 2016 (http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/why-are-american-flags-still-made-in-china) .) (SB 1012)
As you know, the space industry is big in California. To keep this fact in everyone’s consciousness, SB 1138 proclaims the first Friday in May of each year to be Space Day “…and designates that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions.” Public schools and other educational institutions are encouraged “…to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.”
There has been much talk about controlling and reducing greenhouse gases and methane emissions. Well, the legislature has decided to get more involved. SB 1383 requires the State Air Resources Board to implement a strategy to reduce methane emissions from livestock aka cow flatuance.
If Justin Timberlake ever takes up residence in California, he can now take a selfie of his completed voting ballot. AB 1494 creates an exception to ballot secrecy by providing that after a ballot has been marked, “… a voter may voluntarily disclose how he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law.”
Mobil phones are ubiquitous as are the cases for them. AB 1798 makes it illegal to have a protective case for a mobile phone “… that is so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm.” Simply put: gun shaped phone cases are strictly prohibited.
And last but not least, as I am a dog lover and have, unfortunately, heard of this happening particularly out in the Palm Springs area in the summer (when it is only 110 degrees!) is AB 797. Many times, people will leave their pets in the car in the summer with the windows rolled up. Needless to say, the heat inside the vehicle becomes excessive and the animal passes away. In some instances, a passerby broke the car window to rescue the dog and then either was criminally prosecuted or was sued by the motor vehicle owner for the damage caused to the window. (See: https://www.thedodo.com/dog-trapped-in-hot-car-legal-1880817582.html) . This bill provides that a person may take “… reasonable steps that are necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the person holds a reasonable belief that the animal’s safety is in immediate danger … that could reasonably be expected to cause …. death….” The bill outlines certain steps that the good Samaritan must take such as contacting 911 prior to the forcible entry and remaining at the scene until the authorities arrive. The good Samaritan meeting the requirements of this law will be exempted from criminal liability and any civil liability arising from property damage to the motor vehicle while the pet’s owner will be responsible for the medical and other expenses of the rescue and may face criminal penalties as well. Hooray for Phideaux! (Cajun spelling!)
While there are other interesting laws now on the books, the above struck me as the most intriguing.
…. Just something to think about!
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