Actually, it didn't become illegal to use your cell phone handset in the car in California yet. That law doesn't go into effect until July 1, 2008, but most people don't bother to research it.
Here's an O.C. Register Article that goes of the major laws that go into effect today (Jan 1, 2007) that they believe people should be aware of:
Don't smoke in the office garage: Clarifies a state smoking ban to include government-owned or leased parking garages as well as enclosed workplace spaces such as stairwells, lobbies and elevators.
Cigarette, snuff thyself: Merchants may sell only so-called fire-safe cigarettes after they've depleted supplies bought before Jan. 1. Fire-safe cigarettes are designed to prevent fires by going out quickly when they're not being puffed. The law was passed in 2005, but gave the industry a year to comply.
Cheap meds: The state Department of Health Services will attempt to negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers. Drug companies that refuse to cut deals could find it tougher to get their prescriptions used by Medi-Cal.
Brush your teeth, kid: Public school students must get dental exams when they go to kindergarten or first grade unless their parents object. Supporters say the measure will help stem a sharp increase in dental problems among young children.
Kids and cars
Get out of the trunk: Teen drivers aren't allowed to carry passengers younger than 20 during their first year of driving. To get around that, some carry their friends in the trunk. This law outlaws "trunking" and raises fines – formerly $100 for riding in non-passenger areas of vehicles – to as high as $370 for the first offense.
Put the beer down, kid: Anyone younger than 21 found driving with even a trace amount of alcohol – 0.01 percent blood-alcohol content – will be subject to criminal fines. Previously, such individuals were subject only to civil action.
On the job
More dough to blow: The new minimum wage is $7.50, up 75 cents from last year. But it won't remain that way for long. The minimum wage will be raised again on Jan. 1, 2008, to $8.
No Web porn for public employees: Forbids government employees and elected officials from using state-owned or state-leased computers to download "obscene matter." The law exempts legitimate police or research purposes as well as investigations of employee misconduct.
Domestic partners can file jointly: Now, just like married couples, same-sex domestic partners have the option of filing their state taxes separately or jointly. Joint filings can result in tax savings, though advocates say the symbolism is far more important. On a federal level, separate filing is required.
Home address optional: The goal here is to protect Californians' privacy and personal information. Marriage license applicants and witnesses are allowed to provide a business address or post office box in lieu of a residential address.
Nobody locks puppy in the car: Bans leaving animals in unattended vehicles under conditions that could endanger their health – a hot or cold day, for example, or being locked up for a long time without food and water. If the animal doesn't suffer great bodily injury, the first offense carries up to a $100 fine. If the animal is injured, the offense is punishable by up to $500 and six months in jail.
Now, untie the dog: Leaving a dog tied to a house or tree for more than three hours is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Don't flush the kitty litter: Turns out scientific studies have found a link between cat feces and sea otter deaths. Kitty litter packaging is required to include a general statement about disposing it in the trash or the specific verbiage: "Encouraging your cat to use an indoor litter box, or properly disposing of outdoor cat feces, is beneficial to overall water quality. Please do not flush cat litter in toilets or dispose of it outdoors in gutters or storm drains."
Not so fast, Mr. Mayor
Who runs the L.A. schools? One new law that won't take effect – at least not today – would give Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa partial control over the huge Los Angeles Unified School District. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Dec. 21 that the power shift was unconstitutional. Villaraigosa plans to appeal.
Don't drop your cell phone – yet
Several bills passed in 2006 won't have an effect just yet. Among them:
•Cell phones: Effective July 1, 2008, this law prohibits motorists from holding a cell phone while driving. That gives you 18 months to invest in a hands-free headset.
•Greenhouse gas limits: The sweeping law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 will take years, and possibly additional legislation, to implement. By June 30, 2007, the state Air Resources Board is required to publish a list of early measures.
•Mooncakes: This was a proposal by Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Westminster, to ask the state to extend the shelf life of Asian pastries such as mooncakes and bahn tet. The bill gives the state Department of Health Services until Jan. 1, 2008, to study ways to make the delicacies meet food standards.
•Cable deregulation: This law allows phone companies to obtain a cable franchise for the entire state, instead of one for each city or county. The legislation goes into effect today, but the companies have to obtain the necessary permits and/or upgrade systems before they can offer cable services.
What's in the hopper for 2007 and beyond?
The governor and legislative leaders already have identified the following as key topics for new legislation heading into 2007:
•Health insurance: Multiple plans are on the table for insuring 6 million uncovered Californians.
•Prisons: An $11 billion plan to overhaul the system is on the table. Legislators, guards and inmates will push for changes.
•Redistricting: Democratic leaders have suggested that a softening of term limits might induce them to give up their lock on Assembly and Senate seats.
•State budget: A $5.5 billion deficit is anticipated in the coming fiscal year.
•Illegal immigrants:A driver's license bill returns for a ninth time.
•Education: A school performance review is due early in 2007.
•Gay marriage: Back on the table even as the state Supreme Court reviews the issue.
•Smoking: Bans smoking in state parks and on state beaches and in cars carrying young children.