Gas, Air, and Water

  If you’ve ever been to a gas station in California, you’ve probably noticed that the station has an air pump to inflate your tires. Every air pump I’ve ever seen also has a water hose to fill your radiator. Some stations have air pumps and water dispensers that require a token that a customer who buys gasoline can get from the attendant.¬†You may have also seen a sign like the one above on the air pump or near it that says that California law requires the station to provide free air and water to it’s customers. The rationale here is to provide for public safety by giving the average driver the means to keep their tires properly inflated and cars from overheating, both of which should reduce accidents. The law in question here was passed in 1999 and went in to effect on January 1, 2000 as Business and Professions Code section 13651. Free air and water is covered in section 13651(a). The requirement regarding the posting of a sign like the one above is in section 13651(a)(2). Section 13651 also covers the availability of gas station restrooms in sub-section (b). Should you as a member of the public come across a gas station that doesn’t have free air and water available to its customers, section 13651(d)(2) provides that the gas station may be subject to a fine of $250 by the Division of Measurement Standards of the California Department of Food and...

Wash Your Hands!

I was at a grocery store recently and came across this sign in the bathroom. I’m sure many of us have seen this sign before. I looked it up what this California state law was (something tells me it’s in the Health and Safety Code… call it a hunch) and found section 113953.3(a) which specifies a hand and arm washing procedure, including “vigorously rubbing together the surfaces of lathered hands for at least 10 to 15 seconds.” The subsections of 113953.3 list out the situations in which hand and arm washing is required. Subsection (a)(3) says that employees shall wash their hands “After using the toilet room.” Section 113953.3 applies to employees (defined in Health and Safety code 113770) of a food facility (defined in Health and Safety Code 113789(a)). A “food facility” means any “operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption at the retail level”. In my opinion, this would include both grocery stores and...

California Sales Tax & Hot Sandwiches at Subway

Little known fact, I love Subway Sandwiches. Like a lot. In law school, there was one on my home and I’d stop in there every night. If you’re in California and have been to a Subway Sandwich, you may have noticed that a hot or toasted sandwich costs more than a cold one, all else being equal. One of the Subways in my neighborhood has this sign on its register: Now, personally, a hot sandwich sounds disgusting as all get out, but to each their own. This “sales tax on hot sandwiches” things is apparently a big deal as I’ve seen other Subways with signs similar to this, no doubt attempting to placate customers of hot sandwiches angry about the higher price. I spent some time looking and as best I can tell, the California state law in question is California Revenue and Taxation Code section 6359. It is a bit long to cut and paste for you, but the basic idea is this: Those of us who have gone grocery shopping in California know that you don’t pay sales tax on most grocery items. That is the general rule that, essentially, described in section 6359(a). Section 6359(b) defines in very broad strokes what groceries are exempt from sales tax under Section 6359(a). Section 6359(c) defines some grocery categories that you definitely have to pay sales tax on. As usual, though, there are exceptions to the general rule in section 6359(a). Section 6359(d) defines seven categories of items on which you have to pay sales tax. Number 7 (i.e. Section 6359(d)(7)) is products sold as “hot food products”. “Hot...