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California Laws 1999

January 01, 1999

SACRAMENTO — In his eighth and final year in office, Gov. Pete Wilson signed 1,081 bills into law. That's 122 more than in 1997, but short of his personal record of 1,386 bill-signings back in 1992.

Some of the measures are arcane, affecting small numbers of people or government agencies. But many affect us all. Vehicle owners will see the cost of registering their cars drop. Schoolchildren will have a longer school year, to their dismay and their parents' glee.

Penalties continue to get worse for drunk drivers and other scofflaws. The elderly will gain more protection against abuse. So will children in foster care. Wilson vetoed many bills aimed at overhauling the health care system. But he also signed some that promise to give patients added rights.

That said, here's a look at some of the more far-reaching bills, as well as some not so sweeping.

To find out more about a bill, write to the Legislature at: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, or visit the California government web site at http://www.ca.gov/s/

Taxes

Tax cuts--People whose car registration is due after Jan. 1 will see a 25% reduction in their vehicle license fee. On a vehicle worth $20,000, the car tax cut will be about $100. Income tax credits for people with children and other dependents will rise to $253 per dependent a year for the 1998 tax year. Individual renters earning $25,000 or less annually will be able to claim a $60 credit on their income tax bill. Couples who rent and earn $50,000 or less can claim a credit of $120 a year. (AB 2797 by Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced)

Self-employed--People who are self-employed can now deduct 40% of the cost of health insurance premiums from their state income tax, rather than the past 25%. (AB 2798 by Assemblyman Michael Machado, D-Linden)

Checkoff--Income tax filers can now direct $1 to emergency food assistance programs. (AB 2366 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles)

Deduction--The state income tax deduction will rise for interest on college student loans. This year, you will be able to deduct up to $1,000 in interest. The amount will rise in each of the next three years. (AB 1613 by Assemblyman Jack Scott, D-Altadena)

Internet--Local government is barred from levying taxes on Internet access and online computer services until at least 2001. (AB 1614 by Assemblyman Ted Lempert, D-San Carlos, and SB 409 by Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado)

Holocaust--Money settlements received by Holocaust survivors and their heirs are exempt from state taxes. (SB 1397 by Sen. Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga)

Farmland--Landowners who agree to restrict their property to agricultural uses for 20 years or more receive increased tax benefits under a revision of the Williamson Act. (SB 1182 by Sen. Jim Costa, D-Fresno)

Education

School days--All public schools must have 180-day school years, up from the past average of 172 days. (SB 1193 by Sen. Steve Peace, D-El Cajon, and Sen. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank)

After-school care--After-school programs receive a $50-million infusion because of three laws that cover elementary and middle schools. Local government must match the state money and use it to provide weekday care until 6 p.m., with homework help, tutoring and recreation. (AB 2284 by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, AB 1428 by Assemblywoman Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, and SB 1756 by Sen. Bill Lockyer, D-Hayward)

Summer school--The state will spend $105 million for remedial and summer school education programs for struggling students. (SB 1370 by Sen. Richard G. Polanco, D-Los Angeles)

Sex education--Schools must notify parents before they provide education on the topics of sex, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. (SB 1110 by Sen. Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City)

Whiz kids--California will establish the Summer School for Mathematics and Science, an academy for students who have demonstrated excellence in math and science. (AB 2536 by Assemblyman Charles S. Poochigian, R-Fresno)

Athletic injuries--The University of California will undertake a three-year study of injuries suffered by high school athletes and publish its findings by Dec. 1, 2003. (SB 1646 by Sen Ruben S. Ayala, D-Chino)

Private schools--Private schools are prohibited from employing people who have been convicted of serious or violent felonies, or misdemeanor sex and drug offenses. Public schools already operate under the prohibition. (AB 1392 by Assemblyman Jack Scott, D-Altadena)

Student aid--Students from low-income families can have all but $5 of the fee waived for taking the test necessary to be placed into high school Advanced Placement courses. (AB 2216 by Assemblywoman Martha M. Escutia, D-Bell)

College placement--High schools that serve predominantly low-income students will receive $10 million to establish courses that prepare students to take college admission tests. (SB 1697 by Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Los Angeles)

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