New year, new laws in Calif. include mortgages, vaccinations, guns, space travel & social media

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Updated: 12/30/2012 1:20 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Under some of the state laws taking effect with the new year, homeowners will have increased protections from foreclosure.

California also is studying whether to create the nation's first state-administered retirement savings program for private-sector workers, although it will take additional legislation before the program can be fully implemented.

Other laws address emotional issues such as hunting and carrying guns in public.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed nearly 900 bills into law in 2012, most of which take effect Jan. 1. The legislation covers a wide range of topics, from pension changes for public employees to new funding mechanisms for a state park system that has been tainted by financial scandals.

Other laws taking effect in California in 2013:

— Juvenile murderers: SB9 affects more than 300 inmates serving no-parole life sentences for murders they committed when they were younger than 18. After 15 years in prison, the inmates can ask judges to impose 25 years-to-life sentences that allow for the possibility of parole.

— Gay teenagers: SB1172 makes California the first state to ban a form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight. The law, which is being challenged in court, prohibits what is known as reparative or conversion therapy for minors.

— Auto sales: AB1447 and AB1534 restrict certain practices by "buy here, pay here" auto dealers, who generally sell used vehicles and offer their own financing. They now must provide warranties for at least 30 days and notify potential buyers of their vehicles' market value. They also can no longer install secret tracking devices on the vehicles.

— Social media: SB1349 and AB1844 make it illegal for employers and colleges to demand access to social media accounts.

— Space travel: AB2243 limits private space companies' liability from civil lawsuits if customers are injured or die because of the obvious risks.

— Self-driving vehicles: SB1298 sets safety and performance standards for self-driving vehicles guided by radar and GPS systems. It allows the autonomous vehicles on California streets and highways as long as a licensed driver is aboard.

— Missing elderly: Local police will be able to issue "Silver Alerts" for missing senior citizens who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease and are believed to be in danger. SB1047 expands on the Amber Alert program, which issues electronic notices to the public, law enforcement and the media when a child is missing.

— Marine reptile: AB1776 makes the Pacific leatherback sea turtle California's official state marine reptile and designates each Oct. 15 as Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day.

©2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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