Welcome to 2012. As always, an abundance of new state laws take effect today, and many of them can't be ignored as easily as an ill-chosen New Year's resolution.

So if you want to stay out of trouble:

&#149 Don't drop your teenager off at a tanning salon. Tanning beds are now off limits for anyone under 18.

&#149 If your child is younger, you may need to dust off the booster seat. Under a bill sponsored by state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, children under 8 years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall are now required to use a child safety seat while riding in a vehicle. That's up from age 6 or 60 pounds.

&#149 You must now take any alcoholic beverages through a regular checkstand at the supermarket. Beer, wine and liquor can no longer be sold at self-service checkouts.

&#149 Leave your handgun at home. Open-carry advocates have been gathering in coffee shops and other public locations in recent years, but it's now a misdemeanor to carry an exposed, unloaded handgun in public.

In all, Gov. Jerry Brown signed 760 bills in 2011. He vetoed 128 and allowed one to become law without his signature. Some recent years have seen as many as 900 new state laws, most of them making technical changes affecting a relatively narrow group of people.

That's also true this year, though a few of the new laws will have wide impacts, such as an Evans-sponsored law requiring individual health policies to cover maternity care, and some already are generating controversy:

&#149 The California Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants attending public colleges and universities to qualify for privately funded financial aid. To be eligible, students must have attended high school in California for at least three years. They also must graduate here.

&#149 Residents in rural areas — including much of the North Coast region — are now subject to a $150-a-year fee to help offset the cost of wildfire prevention and suppression by the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

&#149 Under new auto impound rules, law enforcement agencies will give people stopped solely for driving without a license a chance to find a licensed driver to take the car. Brown vetoed a companion bill that would have established new restrictions for DUI checkpoints.

From our perspective, one of the most important new laws is an expansion of the California Public Records Act to cover foundations and auxiliary groups that raise and manage money for UC and CSU campuses.

These organizations manage millions of dollars intended for scholarships and other programs benefiting university students. Audits have shown that some of the money has found its way into loans to university officials and other insiders, including Sonoma County developer Clem Carinalli, a former Sonoma State Academic Foundation board member.

Finally, if you've got a stack of unpaid traffic tickets, there's a new law that could save you a bundle. For the next six months, unpaid fines due by Jan. 1, 2009, can be paid off at 50 cents on the dollar.

By the way, the Legislature returns Wednesday to start work on next year's new laws.

Pot around Sonoma County

Three Sonoma County cannabis dispensaries will be open for adult-use sales on Jan. 1, 2018:

11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
785 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol

SPARC/Peace in Medicine
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
6771 Sebastopol Ave. #100, Sebastopol

Mercy Wellness of Cotati
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
7950 Redwood Drive #8, Cotati

Pot around Sonoma County

Sebastopol: Adult-use and medical cannabis sales take place at the city’s two dispensaries. Manufacturing and other aspects of the business will be considered in 2018. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.

Cotati: Allows adult-use and medical cannabis sales at its sole dispensary.

Santa Rosa: Medical marijuana businesses are allowed in the city. Santa Rosa will allow sales of adult-use cannabis on Jan. 19. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.

Cloverdale: Up to two cannabis dispensaries are allowed in the city, although there are none currently. Manufacturing, distribution and cultivation business permit applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Petaluma: Allows cannabis delivery services and some cannabis manufacturing but has not allowed any dispensaries inside city limits.

Windsor: Dispensaries and other types of cannabis businesses as well as outdoor cultivation is banned in Windsor. Residents must get a town permit for personal-use cultivation, which is only allowed to occur indoors.

Sonoma city: Cannabis cultivation, indoor and outdoor, is banned but the rule will be reconsidered December 2018. Delivery businesses with headquarters outside the city must acquire a city permit to conduct deliveries in the city. Some personal cultivation is allowed but residents must comply with a variety of city requirements like security systems.

Sonoma County: Rules are in places for medical marijuana businesses and supervisors will consider rules for adult use in 2018.

Rohnert Park: Does not all manufacturing, distributing or selling marijuana within city limits.

Healdsburg: Prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries.


Find more in-depth cannabis news, culture and politics at EmeraldReport.com, authoritative marijuana coverage from the PD.