California’s minimum wage will go from 6.75 to 7.50 an hour in January – with another 50 cent boost scheduled for 2008. Low income families may also benefit from prescription drug discounts the state will attempt to negotiate with drug makers this year. Also health-related, a new law requires dental check-ups for kids entering kindergarten or first grade. The state will also begin implementing a first-in-the nation cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
Other noteworthy new laws: You won’t be able to tether your pet outside for more than a few hours – or leave your dog unattended in the car on a hot summer day. Merchants will have to sell self-extinguishing cigarettes, and phone companies will be allowed to break into the cable TV business. One new law that won’t take effect yet – the measure that gives Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more control over the LA Unified School District. That’s being challenged in court.