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At least 200 new laws to go into effect on Jan. 1

December 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Along with the New Year come hundreds of new laws. At least 200 are going into effect on Jan. 1, including some that opponents are still trying to overturn.

One of the most controversial is AB130, better known as The Dream Act. It will allow students who entered the country illegally to receive private financial aid at the state's public colleges.

Many are opposed to the second portion of the law, AB131, which allows illegal immigrants to apply for state-funded scholarships and financial aid at state universities. That provision is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Another bill going into effect is one that requires children to be buckled into booster seats until they turn 8 or grow to a height of 4 feet, 9 inches. Currently, the law is for children 6 and under, or until they reach 60 pounds.

Child safety expert James Decarli said the change is to prevent injuries seen in children prematurely transferred to an adult lap-shoulder belt.

"When (the seatbelt) does not fit properly, the lap belt is up on the child's stomach, and the cross belt is generally put behind the child's head, causing additional injuries," Decarli said. "The booster seat will help prevent this so the child is elevated similar to that of an adult."

Other laws going into effect in 2012:

  • California will become the first state to require public schools to teach the historical contributions of gays and lesbians. SB48 also adds people with disabilities to the list of groups whose roles and contributions must be taught. The law bans instructional materials judged to reflect adversely on gays or particular religions.
  • Anyone 18 years or younger will not be allowed to buy nonprescription cough medicine over the counter. This law is aimed at preventing minors from ingesting too much cold medicine, which experts say is just as hazardous as drinking too much alcohol.
  • AB183 bans the sale of alcohol at self-service checkout stands, a bill sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
  • California is joining Hawaii, Washington and Oregon in banning the sale, trade and possession of shark fins with AB376. The fins are used in a soup considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures.
  • Anyone younger than 18 will not be able to use tanning beds, even with parental permission.
  • Children as young as 12 can be vaccinated without their parents' consent against human papillomavirus, known as HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer. AB499 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, pitted public health officials against parental-rights advocates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.