Several CA laws in effect in the New Year

SACRAMENTO - Under some of the state laws taking effect with the new year, homeowners will have increased protections from foreclosure.

California also is studying whether to create the nation's first state-administered retirement savings program for private-sector workers, although it will take additional legislation before the program can be fully implemented.

Other laws address emotional issues such as hunting and carrying guns in public.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed nearly 900 bills into law in 2012, most of which took effect Jan. 1. The legislation covers a wide range of topics, from pension changes for public employees to new funding mechanisms for a state park system that has been tainted by financial scandals.

Some new laws that Californians may want to pay close attention to include:

-Drivers can pull up their proof of insurance if they are pulled over by an officer through their phones. Also, motorists can now text if they are using a voice-activated, hands-free device. Finally, depending on the type of car, drivers can save time and money on smog tests. Cars made in 2000 or later will no longer require a tailpipe emissions test.

-On immigration, young undocumented immigrants who qualify for President Barack Obama's deferred action will be able to get a California driver's license.

-Shoppers may already have noticed that the state sales tax jumped a quarter of a cent to 7.5 percent. The hike is part of Proposition 30, which voters approved in November and will be in effect for four years.

-Finally, the state has created an Amber Alert system for seniors. A Silver Alert could be activated by police for anyone missing and is 65 years or older and in danger from a medical condition.


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