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New Year Brings New Laws in California
by Ken May

Cellphone use while driving – Californians are no longer allowed to use a handheld wireless phone or wireless electronic device while driving unless the device is mounted on the windshield in a way that doesn’t hinder the driver’s vision.

It seems to me that it would be easier and much safer to just wait until you get to your destination to make that call or text.

Motorcycle lane splitting – The new law defines lane splitting as driving a two wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane. The law also allows the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop guidelines to ensure the safety of the motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers.

We have all experienced this. A motorcycle appears out of nowhere, zooms past you on the freeway, and shakes you up a bit. My main concern is for the guy on the bike. How many times have you checked your blind spot without looking further back down the lane for a fast-moving motorcycle? Or how many times have you looked and the motorcycle just didn’t register in your mind as being there? I think that the rules of lane splitting really need to be tightened up.

Vehicle registration fee – The new law increases the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer from $43 to $53.

This doesn’t seem to be much until you realize that it equates to an increase of over 20%.

Minimum wage – California’s minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $10.50 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. It will gradually increase to $15.00 in 2022.

My only concern is when the rate gets to the point where it starts reducing the number of jobs available and where the “start-up” type jobs get replaced by technology. I remember making $2.00 per hour when I started at Sea World in 1974.

Law enforcement officer’s handgun storage – Police officers will be required to follow the same rules as civilians by securing handguns in a lockbox out of plain view or in the trunk if weapons are left in an unattended vehicle. This is a result of stolen guns being used to commit many crimes throughout California.

My initial reaction is that this is a no-brainer. After giving it some thought though, why would a trained professional leave an unattended weapon in plain sight which could ultimately be used against him or her? I’m sure that most don’t but having guidelines can act as a reminder which could save lives.

School Mascots – Starting on January 1st, California public schools will be banned from using the name “Redskins” for sports teams and mascots.

I agree that this is an offensive term and I’m pretty sure that the Lancers, Pirates, Knights, and my high school’s Wildcats are safe.

Drinking at salons – Starting on January 1st, beauty salons and barber shops will be allowed to serve free wine or beer to their customers until 10:00pm.

“Really honey, I was out getting a haircut! I wasn’t at a gentlemen’s club”!

Gender-neutral bathrooms – Starting on March 1st, all single-user toilet facilities in any business or public place will be all-gender facilities.

This is great news. Now the girls in my office will have to let me use the bathroom too!

Youth sports health protocol – Youth sports organizations will be required to notify the parents or guardians of athletes younger than 17 years old who have been removed from an activity because of a suspected concussion.

I have no problem with this new law because it seems reasonable, especially considering new information scientists are discovering about head trauma and the aftereffects.

As a professional soccer referee, I am now required to stop play if a player born in 2006 or later either heads a ball or gets hit in the head with a ball, send the player off of the field of play to be examined, and restart play with an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If there are no medical personnel at the field, the team’s coach makes the decision as to whether or not the player can further participate in the match.

Again, I agree with the spirit of the law but some of our new procedures on the soccer field seem to be overkill. I would also think that the referee who has no interest in the final outcome of the game would be a better choice to make the determination as to whether or not a player can re-enter the field of play as long as there are no trained medical people at the field.

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