New laws: Hidden fees, security deposits, firearms

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California has enacted a robust package of new laws that go into effect today, impacting consumers, public safety, healthcare, housing, and more. Here’s a detailed breakdown of some key measures:

Consumer Protections:

  • Hidden Fees (SB 478): Californians are no longer susceptible to bait-and-switch tactics. This law prohibits businesses from advertising a lower price and then adding undisclosed fees at checkout. This applies to a wide range of products and services, including lodging (hotels, vacation rentals), event tickets (concerts, sporting events), and food delivery services. Businesses must now clearly advertise the total price upfront, including all taxes, but excluding optional charges like shipping. This promotes transparency and empowers consumers to make informed choices before committing to a purchase.

  • Right to Repair (SB 244): Californians gain more control over their electronic devices. This law requires manufacturers to provide consumers and independent repair shops with the necessary parts, tools, and service manuals to fix electronics like smartphones, home appliances, televisions, and recording equipment costing at least $50. This promotes competition in the repair market, potentially leading to lower repair costs and increased availability of repair options. Furthermore, it empowers consumers to extend the lifespan of their electronics, reducing electronic waste.

  • Short-Term Rentals (AB 537): No more surprise cleaning charges when booking a vacation rental! This law requires platforms like Airbnb to include all mandatory fees, including cleaning charges, in their advertised rates. This ensures transparency in pricing for vacation rentals and prevents sticker shock for consumers at checkout.

  • Rental Deposits (AB 12): Making housing more accessible, this law limits security deposits for new rental agreements to a maximum of one month’s rent. Previously, landlords could charge higher deposits. This reduces the upfront financial burden on renters and makes it easier for Californians to secure housing. Landlords can still seek additional fees to cover damages exceeding the security deposit amount.

Public Safety:

  • No Roofies Law (AB 1013): This law enhances safety in nightlife environments by requiring alcohol-selling businesses to provide or offer date-rape drug test kits to customers free of charge. Additionally, these businesses must display signage indicating the availability of the test kits. This empowers patrons to take preventative measures and potentially identify if a drink has been tampered with.

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  • Sodium Nitrate (AB 1109 or Tyler’s Law): Addressing concerns about teen suicide prevention, this law restricts access to a dangerous substance. It prohibits online marketplaces from selling sodium nitrite to minors and limits the concentration of sodium nitrite allowed in products sold in the state to no more than 10%. Sodium nitrite can be deadly if ingested in large quantities.

  • Fireworks (AB 1403): This law improves data collection on fireworks-related incidents, including fires, injuries, and property damage. This will help law enforcement agencies target their efforts towards illegal fireworks use and develop more effective enforcement strategies. Additionally, fines for possessing or using illegal fireworks have been doubled since January 2024, serving as a stronger deterrent.

  • Firearms Tax (AB 28): California becomes the first state to implement a tax on firearms and ammunition. This tax generates revenue that will be used to fund gun violence prevention programs and school safety initiatives. The aim is to reduce gun violence and create safer learning environments for California’s students.

  • Hate Crimes (AB 449): This law strengthens California’s response to hate crimes. Law enforcement agencies are required to adopt new policies that guide officers on how to recognize and report suspected hate crimes. The California Department of Justice will oversee compliance with these policies. This ensures that hate crimes are properly identified and investigated, leading to appropriate action against perpetrators.

  • Fireworks (AB 1403): This law goes beyond simply banning illegal fireworks. It aims to improve data collection on fireworks-related incidents, including fires, injuries, and property damage. This will provide valuable insights for law enforcement agencies. With better data, they can more effectively target their efforts towards combating illegal fireworks use and develop data-driven enforcement strategies. Additionally, fines for possessing or using illegal fireworks have been doubled since January 2024. This increased penalty serves as a stronger deterrent against illegal fireworks activity.

  • Firearms Tax (AB 28): California takes a bold step towards gun violence prevention by becoming the first state to implement a tax on firearms and ammunition. The revenue generated by this tax will be used to fund critical gun violence prevention programs and school safety initiatives. These programs can focus on a variety of areas, such as gun violence education, mental health support services, and community outreach programs. The ultimate goal is to reduce gun violence and create safer learning environments for California’s students.

  • Workplace Violence Prevention (SB 553): This law recognizes the importance of proactive measures to prevent violence in the workplace. It mandates businesses with 10 or more employees to implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs. These programs must include essential elements like training for workers on identifying and responding to potential workplace violence hazards. Employees will learn to recognize warning signs, de-escalate situations, and report incidents. Businesses must also maintain a log of workplace violence incidents. This comprehensive approach helps create safer work environments and protects employees from violence.

Education and Healthcare:

  • Menstrual Products (AB 230): This law expands access to essential hygiene products for school-aged girls. It requires public and charter schools serving grades three and above to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms. Previously, this requirement only applied to schools serving grades six and above. This broader access ensures that young women can attend school with confidence and dignity, regardless of their personal circumstances.

  • School Athletics (AB 245): Quick response can be life-saving in the event of a cardiac arrest. This law equips high school sports coaches with the necessary skills to respond to such emergencies. In addition to their existing CPR training, coaches will now receive training in recognizing and responding to signs of cardiac arrest. They will also be certified in using external defibrillators (AEDs), which are portable devices that can help restart a stopped heart. This enhanced training empowers coaches to provide potentially life-saving interventions during critical moments.

  • ‘Willful Defiance’ (SB 274): This law promotes a more positive and supportive approach to student discipline. It prohibits schools from suspending or expelling students from kindergarten to 12th grade for “willful defiance,” which is typically defined as disrupting school activities or defying school staff instructions. Instead, schools must utilize alternative methods to address student behavior issues. These methods could include intervention programs, counseling services, or restorative justice practices. The focus shifts from punishment to helping students develop positive behavior patterns and succeed academically.

Education and Healthcare:

  • Reproductive Rights (AB 352 & SB 345): Protects patient privacy for reproductive health records and shields providers from out-of-state restrictions.
  • Opioid Crisis (AB 663): Makes it easier for mobile pharmacies to dispense medication for opioid use disorder.
  • Workers’ Rights (SB 616): Workers get more paid sick days (increased from 3 to 5 days).
  • Mental Health (SB 326): Reforms how mental health services are funded and delivered, aiming for better public accountability.

Housing and Environment:

  • Property Disclosures (AB 968): Sellers of recently acquired properties must disclose contractor information and permits for major renovations.
  • Housing Construction (SB 684): Streamlines approval processes for medium-sized housing developments in designated zones.
  • Affordable Housing (SB 423 & SB 4): Faster permitting for affordable housing projects to address the housing shortage.
  • Big Oil Oversight (SBX1-2): California gains more control over gas prices by regulating refineries and preventing price gouging.

Voting Rights and Education:

  • Voter Access (AB 545): Makes curbside voting easier for voters with disabilities.
  • UC Transfer Process (AB 1291): Pilot program prioritizes community college transfer students with associate degrees for admission to UCLA.

 

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JF1
JF1
12 days ago

Does the hidden fees law apply to restaurants? These tacked on fees are ridiculous! The “willful defiance” in schools is going to lead to even more problems. Schools are starting to lose their control over their students and this is only going to make things worse. When will we learn that when there’s no consequence for bad behavior, it allows bad behavior to happen more often gone unchecked. This signals to students that they do not have to listen to the authority at the school. It’s putting the kids in charge of the classroom.

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