New Laws in the Year of the Rooster

February 02, 2017

This contribution piece appeared in the community newspaper, News for Chinese

New Laws in the Year of the Rooster

By Jerry Hill

Happy New Year! One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is that we get the chance to welcome a new year more than once after January 1. Now we’re busy with the Year of the Rooster, according to the lunar calendar, and the next few weeks will be brimming with celebrations throughout our region.

With our minds on the new year again, it is also a good opportunity to look at some new laws that became effective in 2017.

My goal has been for Californians to be safer – whether on the road, in their homes, or during an earthquake. Here are several of my bills that I believe will save lives. They were signed by Governor Jerry Brown and are now law in this Year of the Rooster:

SB 465 -- Contractors’ settlements: This important new law increases the ability of the California Contractors State License Board to get information about its thousands of licensees and directs the board to assess, by 2018, how mandatory reporting of judgments, awards and settlement claims may help the state board protect the public. I thank the East Bay teenager, whose ordeal on a collapsed balcony in Berkeley, her mother, and the families from Ireland for their bravery in testifying to our Legislature and helping bring about this safety bill.

SB 869 – Safe Storage of Police Handguns in Vehicles: A set of investigative news reports last year revealed how astonishingly frequently law enforcement officers have had their guns stolen, sometimes leading to deaths of innocent people. This law will require that officers are subject to the same safe-storage requirements with which ordinary people must comply.

SB 1046 – Ignition Interlock Devices for Drunk Driving Offenders: This will extend and expand a statewide pilot program that requires drunk driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices (IID), which keeps the car from starting if the driver is drunk. With the help of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, the IID has already saved lives in the pilot counties of Alameda, Tulare, Sacramento and Los Angeles by preventing 1 million attempts to drive after drinking. It will expand statewide in 2019.

SB 438 – Earthquake Early Warning Implementation: California is now a step closer to statewide implementation of the earthquake early warning system. Whether you are going to your office in an elevator or undergoing surgery the operating room, alerts sent by the warning system will help prevent dangerous and life-threatening missteps.

SB 812 – Improving Tour Bus Safety: Sometimes you put yourself in the hands of a tour bus operator when you are on vacation.  This law was prompted by the crash of a tour bus in San Francisco’s Union Square in November 2015 that injured 20 people, at least five critically. Afterwards, the California Highway Patrol found that the bus had never been inspected and was not registered with the California Public Utilities Commission, as is required by law. This will improve the safety and oversight of tour buses operating in California by strengthening the CHP’s tour bus inspection program.

SB 661 – The Dig Safe Act of 2016: This law addresses safety problems involving excavations and gas pipelines that are underground by making clarifications to the "one-call" law ("Call 811 before you dig") and by creating the Safe Excavation Board, an appointed board of excavation stakeholders that is funded by fees on utilities. The board is to 1) investigate accidents and other "one-call" violations; 2) develop standards for safe excavation; and 3) coordinate education and outreach efforts.

Senator Jerry Hill represents the 13th Senate District encompassing communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. To ask questions and learn more, see his website