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New Laws Going into Effect in 2012

From consumer protections to modernizing voter registration, Californians have some good reforms to look forward to in the new year.
For Immediate Release

Sacramento, CA— Despite the general gridlock in Sacramento this year, the legislature and governor moved the ball forward on several issues that will improve everything from consumer protections to our voter registration rules. 

Here is a list and descriptions of some of the new laws that go into effect on January 1st:

SB 397 Yee—Instructs the Secretary of State to establish an online voter registration system in time for the Nov. 2012 election:

A system to allow citizens eligible to vote in California to complete the entire registration process online should be up and running in time for the 2012 general election. This will end up engaging more people in the democratic process by making registration more convenient. It will also save counties money because they will no longer have to pay as many staff to enter registration information manually or decipher sloppy hand writing. 

SB 646 Pavley—Improves protections against lead in children’s jewelry:

Making kids jewelry with lead in it was already against the law in California, but a loophole allowed many violators to avoid the financial penalty for breaking the law.  The loophole will be closed starting January 1st and there will finally be a real financial disincentive to selling jewelry with lead in it. 

AB 688 Pan—Bans the sale of expired baby formula and over the counter medication:

Consumers will be able to shop with a little more confidence starting next year knowing that there are now penalties for retailers who keep certain products on their shelves past the sell by date. The new rule is pretty simple: If baby formula or over the counter medication is expired a retailer has to pull it off of its shelves.

AB 22 Mendoza—Prohibits retailers from using credit reports in hiring decisions:

A consumer’s credit report generally doesn’t have much to do with how good of an employee they will be. This new rule will end the practice of using a credit report in hiring decisions for most jobs. At a time when many people are struggling financially because they can’t find work there is no reason to kick them while they are down. Not to mention that credit reports are not always 100% accurate. 

SB 24 Simitian—Improves consumer notifications from companies that lose or have customer data stolen:

The state requires that companies notify their customers if any of their personal information is lost or stolen. Currently there are no specific requirements about what information those notifications have to share. Beginning in January, companies will be required to provide consumers with more information about what was stolen or lost. It won’t be a fool proof protection against ID theft, but the more information consumers have the better they will be able to protect themselves. 

AB 438 Williams—Creates taxpayer safeguards for the privatization of public libraries:

There are several pitfalls the public can face when privatizing public assets.  In many cases the public gives up some or all of its control over public property, and may also fail to receive the full value for a privatized asset.  Beginning in January, privatization proposals will have to demonstrate a benefit to the public throughout the duration of the contract, and will also have to include specific performance standards.

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