PALM DESERT, Calif. -- -

Several new laws went into effect midnight, January 1, here in California.
One protects religious organizations from same-sex marriages -- another allows you to get back on your phone behind the wheel.

A new law by San Fransisco senator Mark Leno (D), protects religious organizations from performing same-sex marriages, or any nuptials that violate their religious beliefs.

Although it may be a smart move to make your internet life private, two new laws say employers and higher-education officials can't ask for access to your social media accounts when applying for a job or school.

You may not be able to check Facebook while you're behind the wheel, but drivers in California can now text and email on the road as long as they use a hands-free device, like Siri.
Let's face it -- most Californians are using SmartPhones these days ... So in 2013 you'll be able to whip out your proof of insurance on those devices when a cop pulls you over.

In the golden state  -- it's now illegal to protest one hour before or after, and during a funeral service.
It's an effort to fend off offensive radical groups like Westboro Baptist Church, made popular from picketing military, gay, and child funerals across the United States.

Shoppers are still getting their fill with those after-Christmas  sales, but come January 1st, the sales tax will temporarily jump another quarter-cent, bringing the statewide sales tax to 7.5% for four years.             
California voters OK'd the tax hike under Proposition 30 last month to save schools from deeper budget cuts.   

The new year also brings some help to California's senior citizens.             
Modeled after the Amber Alert for missing children, a Silver Alert could be activated by police for anyone 65 years old or older who's missing and in great danger because of their medical condition like Alzheimer's and dementia.             
Families typically have to wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report.