By STEVE HART
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
California businesses and consumers will see a host of new laws in 2012, covering everything from tanning beds to online sales tax.
Most of the new laws go into effect Sunday.
Tanning salons are targeted by a law that bars those under 18 from indoor tanning beds — with or without their parents’ permission.
It’s the toughest tanning law in the nation. Until now, California teens 15 to 17 could use the beds with parental consent. Those under 15 were not permitted to catch artificial rays.
The Indoor Tanning Association said 5 to 10 percent of its members’ customers are under 18 and that the new law isn’t needed because tanning salons already are regulated by state and federal health authorities.
But supporters said the California law is necessary because early tanning by children can increase their risk of skin cancer.
The law isn’t good for business, but there’s an alternative for teens who want a tan, said Larry Tomlinson of Great Sunsations, a tanning salon in downtown Santa Rosa.
“We offer a sunless option, airbrush spray tanning,” he said. The tanning solution is organic and provides a natural-looking tan for 7 to 9 days, according to the company’s website.
It’s especially popular during prom season, Tomlinson said.
Another new law could force Amazon and other online retailers to collect sales tax on California purchases next year.
Under compromise legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall, online retailers have until July 31 to get Congress to adopt a nationwide standard for online taxes. If that fails, they’d start collecting sales tax on purchases by California customers next September.
The online sales tax was adopted last June, but Amazon mounted an initiative campaign to repeal it. The web retailer dropped its ballot drive after winning the one-year reprieve.
Other new laws protect employee rights. Employers will be be barred from using consumer credit information about most job applicants or workers.
Businesses will face steeper penalties for misclassifying regular employees as “independent contractors” to avoid wage and benefit laws.
The new fines range from $5,000 to $25,000.
Under another new law, state and local government agencies can’t force employers to use E-Verify, a federal program that electronically checks employees’ immigration status to determine eligibility to work in the U.S. Employers can continue to use the program voluntarily.
Employees will get more information about their pay. A new law requires detailed notice of pay rates and methods, including overtime and allowances. Over the next year, employers who pay commissions must update their contracts with more information about how commissions are computed.