New state laws set to go into effect

December 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A slew of new laws is set to hit books come January 1, from new rules on the road to sales tax increases for some Californians.

Fiscal cliff or not, California's taxes will go up in just a few days. Income tax will go up for high-earners and the sales tax will go up for everyone.

Shoppers are still getting their fill with those after-Christmas sales. But come January 1st, the sales tax will temporarily jump another quarter-cent, bringing the statewide sales tax to 7.5 percent for four years.

California voters OK'd the tax hike under Proposition 30 last month to save schools from deeper budget cuts.

"I got a 17-year-old daughter and I got grandkids that are growing up and going to be in school," shopper Evangelina Hernandez said. "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," shopper Vicki McAdams said. "I mean the reasons for it I know is to improve things, but I never see it going towards that."

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 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 jut supersedes all of that and immediately puts the public and law enforcement into action looking for seniors who are lost," said Gary Passmore with the 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 says he loves the idea since he just got a new iPhone 5, "Because you have it with you all the time. 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?"

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

And 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 courts over its constitutionality.


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