Laws and more laws

Legislators can’t pass a budget, but when it comes to little things, they’re wizards

Happy New Year! It’s time to pop the champagne, throw confetti and look ahead to what 2009 will bring. Which, of course, includes a collection of new rules taking effect Jan. 1, many of which epitomize the term “nanny law.”

Did you know that, starting Thursday, you can mount a GPS system on a windshield only in a 5-inch square on the lower left or 7-inch square on the lower right?

Or that landlords must take charge of animals abandoned by evicted tenants?

Or that (thanks to former Chico Assemblyman Rick Keene) it’s no longer illegal for bits of hay or straw to escape from bales transported on highways, so long as the bales are legally secured?

The law getting the most attention is the ban on text-messaging while driving. Makes sense, but is it really enforceable? Unless a patrol car pulls up alongside a violator at a red light, or the driver is blatantly stupid enough to type on the steering wheel, odds are the texter won’t get caught.

Still, having the law on the books is a deterrent and should make the road safer. Similarly, the health of kids should improve now that it will be illegal to smoke in a vehicle—moving or parked—if there’s a minor inside.

Debating the merits of each new law would take all day, and we don’t want to miss our New Year’s Eve party. Point is, the Legislature has been busy, and though it can’t pass a budget, it’s made a host of changes to our daily lives.