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New California laws go into effect January 1

December 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A number of new state laws go into effect on January 1, tackling some important issues. They cover a wide range, from the health and welfare of Californians to animal protection to job searches.

It's that time of the year when new laws tell us what we can and can't do. Some Californians will feel it more than others.

Good news for the 2 million Californians out of work: Employers can no longer consider your credit report when you apply for a job where money or finances are not involved.

Not-so-good news if you're a fan of shark-fin soup: While your favorite Chinese restaurant is allowed to finish out its current supply, California joins many West Coast ports in banning the importation of the delicacy to help stop the depletion of the world's shark population.

"Let's be candid. Pulling sharks up, slicing their fins off and throwing them back to drown or bleed to death, that is barbaric," said Jennifer Fearing, U.S. Humane Society. "That doesn't meet anyone's standard for appropriate treatment of an animal."

Many of California's new laws affect children and young adults.

The HPV vaccine will be available to kids as young as 12 because the state will allow them to get preventive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental permission.

But minors won't be able to buy Robitussin cough syrup and other medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DXM). Too many minors are "robo-tripping," getting high for less than $10 a bottle.

"For pre-teens and teens, this is the number-one call they get at the poison-control center, is for the abuse of dextromethorphan," said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).

Underage drinking is at the core of adding booze to the list of items you can't buy through the self-checkout stand. Those not old enough to drink typically scan soda through, but put alcohol in the bag.

Melanoma survivor Lisa Andrews helped push through the nation's first tanning-bed ban for anyone younger than 18. After religiously using the machines a few times a week for years, she developed cancer.

"I'm hoping that this will help prevent other people from having to face that sort of diagnosis, which can be a life-and-death situation, really," said Andrews.

Schools will also have to start including gay history in the curriculum. But conservative groups are trying to gather enough signatures to put a ballot measure before voters to stop it even after the law goes into effect.


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