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California lawmakers have hit the ground running in 2014 and have proposed measures regulating everything from cigarette butts to food safety. We decided to give you a roundup of the proposed bills, and new laws that are making the most waves. First up, the "affluenza" defense ...
Use of the "Affluenza" Defense
You may have heard of the case of the drunken 16-year-old boy in Texas, who killed four people in a car accident, and was sent to rehab instead of prison. The brilliant defense? "Affluenza" -- that is, the boy was raised with too much money, too much privilege and no rules. Well, Mike Gatto, California Assemblyman (D-LA) isn't having it, reports the Los Angeles Times. He proposed Assembly Bill 1508 that would prohibit attorneys from using an "affluenza" defense at trial, or as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing. How the legislature plans to define affluenza, and whether this will pass remains to be seen.
Cigarette Butt Ban
Mark Stone, a Monterey-area California assemblyman has also had enough -- of cigarette butts on California beaches, reports KCET. As a result he's introduced Assembly Bill 1504, prohibiting the sale or giving away of filtered cigarettes. Selling a pack of cigarettes, or giving one cigarette to someone, could result in a $500 fine. Given the billions of dollars spent on filtered cigarettes, it's unlikely that this measure will pass. But maybe it's just ahead of its time. Who ever thought cigarette smoking would be banned in bars?
Bare-Handed Food Contact
This is not proposed, but actually a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2014 in California. According to section 113961of the California Retail Food Code, food handlers, and bartenders shall not touch "ready-to-eat food with their bare hands," reports Inside Scoop SF. Though the state will approach the first half of the year with soft enforcement, we're wondering how this will get enforced, and how they're going to get all those fancy chefs in SF and LA to comply.
We're only two weeks deep into 2014 and California is again chartering new waters and gaining national attention for its new, and proposed, laws. People in other states may laugh now, but let's talk in five years.