Issuing today's legislative update, California Gov. Jerry Brown notes that he signed three bills into law, which will affect drivers and motorcycle riders.
* Assembly member Kevin Jeffries (R-Riverside) introduced AB 1047 in February 2011. Now signed into law, the bill makes motorcycle-only checkpoints conducted by local law enforcement -- or any state law enforcement agencies -- illegal. As noted by Around the Capitol, the practice of conducting these selective traffic stops originated in New York, where the NHTSA advocated for these stops to curb "the growing problem of increased motorcycle fatalities." It is noteworthy that the Assembly Transportation Committee could not verify actual times when California law enforcement conducted motorcycle-only checkpoints. CHP confirmed the agency does "not conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints." Nevertheless, these types of checkpoints are now illegal in California. At the same time, targeted enforcement is still acceptable.
* In January, assembly member Jeff Miller (R-Orange) introduced AB 1536, which expanded legislation governing drivers' uses of electronic wireless communications. California's Legislative Counsel provides a copy of the law, which makes it legal for motorists to use hands-free, voice-operated texting devices while driving. Motorists may listen to text messages received and dictate responses. The bill also clears up the grey area governing the activation or deactivation of an electronic wireless device's features. As noted by Around the Capitol, this law receives support from the Technology Association of America, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the L.A. County District Attorney. Dubbing it the "Freedom to Communicate" bill on his website, Miller pointed to his frustration at being "unable to communicate with friends, family and business partners while driving" as being the main catalyst for sponsoring the law.
* Assembly member Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) introduced AB 1854 in February. Signed today by Gov. Brown, this law affects the installation of airbags that were previously deployed. As shown by LegiScan, California now considers it a misdemeanor for a compensated installer to manipulate a vehicle's airbag safety system to declare an airbag functional when it fails to meet safety standards. As noted by Around the Capitol, Brownley's bill expands AB 1471, which made the sale of previously deployed airbags illegal. The new law is designed to close a loophole, which has allowed "some unscrupulous salvage vehicle rebuilders" to part out deployed airbag systems for installation in other vehicles. The Crime Victims Alliance, Consumer Federation of California, California Auto Dismantlers and Recycle Alliance as well as the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office supported this bill. "This bill could save lives," Brownley notes on her website.
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.