New State Laws That Go Into Effect Today Tackle Health Insurance, Bullying, Tattoo Artists & Foie Gras

By Amanda Schwartz

Before we all enter into full-on hotdog-and-firework mode, let’s take a little time to relish the workings of our legislative process. Here’s a sampling of some California laws that are coming into effect today. On top of the well-hyped Foiemageddon, we're getting an expanded definition for bullying, increased maternity insurance coverage, better-informed tattoo artists and big red stickers to warn us from buying junky cars.

SB 1520, a.k.a. the foie gras ban, prohibits the "force feed[ing of] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size" and the sale of products that are derivative of this process. Authored by John Burton (D-San Francisco), the bill was signed way back in 2004 at the behest of an animal rights coalition. While some companies like Sonoma Foie Gras have consequently been forced to go out of business, many chefs and restaurants are snubbing their noses at the ban and say they still plan to serve the gourmet item after today. Rumor has it regulation of the law will be relaxed, but only time and the palates of gourmands will tell.

We have a few healthcare victories now at the state level. SB 222 now ensures that all women receive maternity coverage regardless of their health insurance policies. Additionally health care insurers must provide coverage for behavioral treatment of autism for children and young adults under the California Mental Health Parity Act.

One man’s trash, is another car dealer’s responsibility, as AB 1215 comes into effect. Authored by Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), car dealers must mark vehicles with bright red warning stickers if they're listed in a national database as junk alerting potential buyers to their salvage or damage history. It also raises the fee dealers can charge for titles and registrations from $55 to $80.

It’s time to call it quits if you’ve been tattooing or piercing without knowing the proper standards of sterilization, sanitation, and safety standards—hopefully that was already a no-brainer. AB 300, authored by Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), imposes minimum standards for sterilizing, sanitizing, and maintaining safety at body piercing, tattoo, and permanent cosmetic businesses.

From adults egging on two kids fighting to the unseemly repercussions of Rebecca Black’s Friday, it seems like California has its host of bullying problems. Now, two laws addressing the issue will hopefully do something about that:

  • AB 1156 revises and expands the definition of bullying, including posting material on an online social media website. Authored by Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), it also gives bullied victims priority for transferring schools and requires bullying-prevention training.

  • Additionally, AB 9, authored by Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), requires schools to implement bullying complaint procedures and alternative discipline policies for bullying.