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New laws set for California in 2013

December 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Several new laws take effect on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. One raises the sales tax, another helps seniors and another benefits drivers with smartphones.

Shoppers are still getting their fill with those after-Christmas sales. But come January 1, the sales tax will temporarily jump another quarter-cent, bringing the statewide sales tax to 7.5 percent for four years. California voters OKed the tax hike under Proposition 30 last month to save schools from deeper budget cuts.

On the local level, each county has its own sales tax it adds on top of the state tax. This means that depending on where you live, your sales tax could be higher than 7.5 percent. To see the sales tax in your city/county come January 2013, go to www.boe.ca.gov.

"I got a 17-year-old daughter and I got grandchildren that are growing up that are going to be in school," said shopper Evangelina Hernandez. "So whatever helps, we got to dig in our pockets a little bit deeper to help."

Not everyone, though, is happy with another tax hike.

"Not looking forward to it. The reasons for it I know it's to improve things, but I never see it going towards that," said shopper Vicki McAdams.

The new year also brings some help to California's senior citizens. Modeled after the Amber Alert for missing children, a Silver Alert could be activated by police for anyone 65 years old or older who's missing and in great danger because of their medical condition, like Alzheimer's and dementia.

Families typically have to wait 24 hours to file a missing person's report.

"The Silver Alert law supersedes all of that and immediately puts the public and law enforcement into action looking for seniors who are lost," said Gary Passmore, Congress of California Seniors.

And 2013 changes some driving laws to account for technology.

Since lots of Californians are using smartphones these days, you'll be able to whip out your proof of insurance on those devices when a cop pulls you over.

Mike Dobson loves the idea since he just got a new iPhone 5.

"Because you have it with you all the time," said Dobson. "What a wonderful thing if you have your insurance with you all the time. Maybe we can have our driver's license on there, you know?"

One controversial law is still on hold: The ban forbidding the use of gay-to-straight conversion therapy on minors in California is still tied up in court over its Constitutionality.

Another change for drivers on New Year's Day: You'll be able text while you drive if you have "Siri" or some other program on your cellphone that allows you to text hands-free.


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