New Year Brings A Host of New California Health-Related Laws
Several new state laws approved by lawmakers last year took effect yesterday, including a number of health-related measures, the Los Angeles Times reports. For example, a new law (SB 19) sponsored by state Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) mandates that foods sold at elementary and middle schools must "meet certain nutritional requirements." Another state law (AB 25) sponsored by Assembly member Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) allows gays, lesbians and unmarried seniors who register as domestic partners to use employee leave to care for a partner or a partner's child (Bustillo/Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 1/1). The law also allows domestic partners to "make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner" (AP/New York Times, 1/1). The state also passed a law (SB 680) sponsored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) that requires hospitals to inform the state about the "outcome and pre-existing patient conditions" in heart bypass operations performed at the facilities. The state will rate the quality of care at the hospitals and release the information to the public in 2004 (Fletcher, Sacramento Bee, 12/28). In addition, under a law set to take effect Jan. 7, California will expand the state's Newborn Screening Program, which tests for four genetic conditions, to cover 20 to 30 additional conditions (Roan, Los Angeles Times, 12/31). Other health-related measures that took effect on Jan. 1 include:
- AIDS vaccine: SB 446, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), requires health plans to provide coverage for AIDS vaccines approved by the FDA.
- Arsenic levels: SB 463, sponsored by Sen. Don Perata (D-Alameda), requires public health and environmental hazard regulators to begin to develop new and "presumably tougher" standards for the level of arsenic in drinking water.
- Candy-flavored cigarettes: SB 322, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), bans the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products in establishments that admit minors.
- Dental board: SB 134, also sponsored by Figueroa, disbands the Dental Board of California and establishes a new board.
- Donor registry: SB 108, sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), requires the state to establish an organ and tissue donor registry through the Department of Motor Vehicles (Los Angeles Times, 1/1).
- Emergency contraception: SB 1169, sponsored by Sen. DeDe Alpert (D-Coronado), allows pharmacists to distribute emergency contraception to women under "established physician protocols" (Office of the Governor release, 12/26).
- Skin cancer: AB 663, sponsored by Assembly member Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), allows employers to dispute the "presumption" that certain lifeguards contracted skin cancer as a result of their employment.
- Smoking ban: AB 188, also sponsored by Vargas, bans smoking on public playgrounds or "tot-lot areas."
- Tobacco investigations: SB 757, sponsored by Ortiz, allows the state Department of Health Services to "make sting inspections" of businesses that have sold tobacco to minors (Los Angeles Times, 1/2).
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.