By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
A total of 801 new laws will be taking effect on Jan. 1, 2002 in Del Norte County and across California.
The new laws and regulations cover a wide range of categories, including consumer protection, agriculture, economy, civil rights, education, environment, health and public safety, according to the governors office.
On California highways and city streets, several new regulations are designed to address child safety and driver accountability.
A child seatbelt law will require children under 6 years old, or weighing less than 60 pounds, to be secured in a child safety restraint system. The law formerly stated 4 years old and 40 pounds. Also, it will be prohibited for parents or guardians to leave a child under 6 years old unattended in a vehicle if the engine is running, the keys are left in the ignition or there is a significant risk to the child.
The California Highway Patrol and other police agencies will begin including information on collision reports if any of the drivers involved were using a cellular phone or other distraction when the accident occurred.
A Senate bill authored by one of Northern Californias legislators, K. Maurice Johannessen (R-Redding), will prohibit the exhaust system of a passenger vehicle from emitting sounds of more than 95 decibels.
Similarly, Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin (D-Duncans Mills) is credited with an Assembly bill which incrementally installs reading and math standards in universities during the next three years.
Other education laws will create high-tech high schools across the state, add training for school administrators and ban certain snack foods and beverages from being sold in elementary and middle school cafeterias.
Consumer protection laws include banning predatory loan practices aimed at seniors and low-income people, an anti-telemarketing law that punishes salespeople for calling homes that are on a no call list, and new laws strengthening the restrictions of minors getting access to tobacco products.
Store director Darrell Guthrie of Rays Food Place in Crescent City said he has already taken measures safeguarding cigarettes in his store.
The reason were putting the cigarettes behind the counter is to make them less accessible to minors, for one thing, and the other to make them less accessible to theft, Guthrie said. Guthrie estimated two thirds of the cigarette thefts involved minors.
Environmental laws include identifying toxic mold and setting limits for molds that infect houses and businesses. Property owners with known mold problems will be forced to disclose those problems to potential buyers.
Diana Kilgore of Bayside Realty in Crescent City said a mold disclosure policy began at her office this month, but added that molds found in Del Norte County homes tend to be more of a nuisance than a threat.
They are maintenance molds, Kilgore said. Many of these problems can be solved by using fans and allowing some air circulation in the home. But we dont have the black mold up here that everybody is worried about thats the mold thats getting all the attention.
For a complete list of new 2002 laws, they may be obtained by visiting the governors Web site, accessing press room, then accessing press releases, accessing October 2001 and downloading Complete Legislative Action in 2001.
The website is located at: http://www.governor.ca.gov/state/govsite/gov_homepage.jsp.