New laws start with the New Year

December 23, 2011 7:40:51 PM PST
We're about to enter a new year and with it comes a slew of new laws affecting everything from applying for a job to shopping at the drugstore.

There is good news for the two million Californians out of work. Employers can no longer consider your credit report when you apply for a job where money or finances are not involved. And with the coming year, there is not so good news if you're a fan of shark fin soup. While your favorite Chinese restaurant is allowed to use its current supply, California joins many West Coast ports in banning the importation of the delicacy to help stop the depletion of the world's shark population.

"Let's be candid. Pulling sharks up, slicing their fins off and throwing them back to drown or bleed to death... that is barbaric. That doesn't meet anyone's standard for appropriate treatment of an animal," said Jennifer Fearing from the Humane Society.

Many of California's new laws affect children and young adults. The HPV vaccine will be available to kids as young as 12 because the state will allow them to get preventative treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental permission. But minors won't be able to buy Robitussin cough syrup and other medicines that contain dextromethorphan, or DXM. Too many are "robo-tripping" or getting high for under $10 a bottle.

"For pre-teens and teens, this is the number one call they get at the poison control center is for abuse of dextromethorphan," said St. Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.

Under-aged drinking is at the core of adding booze to the list of items you can't buy through the self-checkout stand. Those not old enough to drink typically scan soda through, but put alcohol in the bag.

Melanoma survivor Lisa Andrews helped push through the nation's first tanning bed ban for anyone under 18, after religiously using the machines a few times a week for years, she developed cancer.

"I'm hoping this will help prevent other people from having to face that sort of diagnosis which can be a life or death situation, really," said Andrews.

Schools will also have to start including gay history in the curriculum, but conservative groups are trying to gather enough signatures to put a ballot measure before voters asking them to stop it, even after it goes into effect.

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