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California's Legislature - Hard At Work Once Again-2014

by Phyllis Pollack
January 2015

PGP Mediation Blog by Phyllis G. Pollack

Phyllis  Pollack

First and foremost, I want to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May 2015 bring you only joy and peace!

Each year, I find it interesting to look through the new laws enacted by the California legislature to see if my tax dollars were well spent. Once again, the legislature was "hard at work."

For example, it enacted AB 0129 which repeals California Corporations Code section 107 which prohibits issuing or putting into circulation, as money, anything but the lawful money of the United States. While on the surface, this seems a bit ambiguous, the new law is aimed at allowing for the issuance of alternative currencies, such as "... digital currency [that is, cyptrocurrencies such as bitcoins, ripple, litecoin, peercoin, namecoin, dogecoin and primecoin], points, coupons or other objects of monetary value... when... used for the purchase of goods and services or the transmission of payments." ( Assembly Bill Analysis) Thus, California is coming into the modern age!

Every state needs to champion an amphibian. California is no exception. As everyone knows, California has the poppy as its official flower and the redwood as its official tree. By AB 2364, it now adds the Californian red-legged frog as its official state amphibian. Hooray!!

As most of us know, transactions dealing with real estate must be in writing as evidenced by either a formal contract or a memorandum of understanding or some written note signed by the party to be charged. AB 2136 provides that such transactions will not be entering the digital age; "an electronic message of an ephemeral nature that is not designed to be retained or to create a permanent record, such as a text message or an instant message is insufficient to constitute a contract to convey real property, in the absence of a written confirmation that conforms to..." the statute. (Legislative Counsel's Digest)( See, Civil Code section 1624.)

Another interesting bill has to do with our jury system. AB 2683 deletes the provision in Penal Code section 166 currently providing that it is a contempt of court as well as a misdemeanor for a juror to willfully disobey a court admonishing jurors not to communicate or conduct any research about the case, including all forms of electronic or wireless communication or research. That is, a juror can no longer be held in contempt for willfully disobeying a judge's order not to tweet about the proceedings or to Google a witness et cetera. I truly wonder about the thinking (politics?) behind this new law.

A new bill that I found quite intriguing is SB 415. In 2012, the legislature enacted the Space Flight Liability and Immunity Act which among other things requires a space flight entity to obtain a signed warning statement from each participant in space flight activities acknowledging that the space flight entity has limited civil liability for bodily injury sustained during space flight, that the participant is engaging in space flight activities at his/her own risk and that he/she has had an opportunity to consult with an attorney about all of this. The aim of this new bill (to be part of California Civil Code Section 2211) is to provide that nothing in this statute shall be construed as against public policy. Thus, not only can the space flight entity limit its liability under general statutory law, it can now prohibit a space flight participant from arguing that it is against public policy for the space flight entity to do so.

My question is while I know that Californians are litigious, is such really necessary? I would think that any one volunteering to go to Mars knows exactly what he/she is getting into and is "assuming the risk"? Isn't this sort of "overkill?" Or, is it a sad commentary on just how litigation prone we have become?

As if the state and federal courts in California as well as the U. S. Supreme Court have not made it clear, SB 1306 makes its official that same sex marriages are legal. Section 300 of California's Family Code now defines marriage as "... a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between two persons to which the consent of the parties capable of making a contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized..." by other statutes.

And last but not least, California like many other states has made ecological conservation official. By SB 270, it formally bans the use of plastic bags. Section 42280 of the Public Resources Code provides:

...as of July 1, 2015 ... prohibit[s] stores that have a specified amount of sales in dollars or retail floor space from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, with specified exceptions. The bill ... also prohibit[s] those stores from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for not less than $0.10.... The bill would require all moneys collected pursuant to these provisions to be retained by the store and be used only for specified purposes.

I wonder if the ten cents or more that I pay for each bag is going to be used for conservation? Or go straight to the store's profits?

While the Legislature passed many many more statutes, I found the above ones to be the more enlightening and so share them with you. If you want to delve into the subject in depth, the full report of all of the laws passed by the legislature in 2014 can be found at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pdf/BillsEnactedReport2014.pdf

Happy Reading!

... Just something to think about!

Biography


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.



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