Slew of new California laws in effect
January 6, 2014
California lawmakers had an active 2013, meaning residents must grapple with a healthy slate of new regulations to abide by in 2014.
While two laws — one allowing driver's licenses for immigrants in the United States with proper documentation and another requiring jails to detain illegal immigrants only if they've committed a violent or serious crime (which bucks federal law) — have grabbed headlines, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said the laws will not unduly affect his department.
"We don't take people who commit minor crimes into our facilities," Royal said. "They are cited in the field. It will have no major impact to how we do business."
Many of the new laws that affect motor vehicles and driving — including a provision that prohibits teens from using electronic devices in the car, even if they are hands free — have more impact on the California Highway Patrol, Royal said.
"Traffic for us is secondary," he said.
From Nevada County's perspective, the Building Department is keeping its eye on a new provision that requires any house built before 1994 to update water fixtures such as showers, faucets and toilets to a more efficient version.
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Technically, this means that if a resident wanted to build a deck, building inspectors could mandate that the homeowner update fixtures.
"We will not be the water police," said Craig Griesbach, director of the Building Department. "Jurisdictions that enforce it that way are going to cost a homeowner looking to replace a water heater $5,000 instead of $700."
Griesbach said rigorous enforcement of building codes only leads to residents refusing to go through the permitting process.
However, the building department will require homeowners undertaking bathroom or kitchen renovations to come into compliance with the new law, Griesbach said.
"We'll just use common sense," he said.
Other laws include regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial fossil fuel extraction technique that proponents say is making the country more energy independent while creating jobs. Detractors say the practice could hamper water quality, poison entire communities and perhaps prompt a devastating earthquake.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin phasing out lead bullets as the state will limit the purchase of large-capacity gun magazines while requiring gun owners to lock up firearms.
Another California bill of note was advocated for by Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner and prevents photographers from aggressively seeking shots of children.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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