New year, new laws

 

As of Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, a slew of new laws were implemented that will affect California residents at home, at school, at work, at play, and while on the road. Here is a roundup of some the state laws that will likely have the most profound effect:

Minimum Wage Increase: Every employer shall pay to each employee wages not less than $10 per hour for all hours worked. (The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Several legislative and ballot initiative proposals will push for a $15 an hour minimum wage in California by 2020.)

SB 61: Grants a one-year extension to a pilot project in the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare aimed at curtailing drunken driving through use of ignition interlock devices that test the sobriety of drivers. Drivers must blow into the devices in order to start their vehicles. If their blood-alcohol concentration exceeds a certain level, the vehicles won’t start.

SB 172: High school students are no longer required to take the high school exit exam to graduate through the 2017-2018 school year. The state Department of Education must retroactively grant diplomas to students who finished high school without completing the exit exam beginning with the 2003-2004 school year.

SB 178: Will require law enforcement to obtain search warrants in order to examine citizens’ emails, text messages, Internet search history, and other digital data.

SB 199: Airsoft guns (a nonlethal firearm that is designed to be a realistic replica of a sniper rifle) will be required to show aspects marking them as toys, such as fluorescent trigger guards.

SB 277: Requires most children to obtain full vaccination by July so they can attend school in the 2016-2017 school year. (This is one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country. The bill will only allow children with serious health problems to opt out of school-mandated vaccinations, and school-age children who remain unvaccinated will need to be home-schooled.)

SB 350: Mandates that 50 percent of California electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030; also doubles the energy-efficiency requirements for existing buildings.

SB 358: Women must be paid the same as men for “substantially similar work,” an upgrade over the current standard. Women are also allowed to talk about their own pay and inquire about the pay of others without facing discipline. (While California already requires equal pay for equal work, women still consistently make less.)

SB 411: Further clarifies that the public is allowed to take video of law-enforcement officers.

SB 491: Drivers may not wear headsets, earplugs, or earphones in or over both ears while operating a vehicle or bicycle. (Law does not apply to those using safety earplugs or headsets while operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment, and waste equipment.)

SB 549: Allows professional sports charity raffle winners to keep 50 percent of ticket sales, rather than the current 10 percent (and the rest going to charity).

SB 588: Permits the California Labor Commissioner to place a lien on an employer’s property to try to recoup the value of wages left unpaid.

SB 643 (and AB 243 and 266): Creates a new agency — the state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations — under the Department of Consumer Affairs, charged with licensing the entire medical marijuana supply chain, including the growing process, safety testing, transportation, distribution, and sales. (The new agency is jokingly nicknamed “BUMMER.”)

SB 695: School districts that require health classes for graduation must teach the standard of consensual sex between partners.

SB 707: Bans concealed firearms from college campuses and K-12 school grounds. (Previously, people with concealed weapons permits were allowed to carry firearms on school grounds, but this exemption has been removed.)

AB 8: The state’s emergency alert system, typically used as “Amber Alerts” in child-abduction cases, will also be used to broadcast a “Yellow Alert” to find hit-and-run drivers in incidents that result in death or major injuries. 

AB 202: Cheerleaders for professional sports teams will be regarded as employees.

AB 208: All slow-moving passenger vehicles are required to pull over safely to let traffic pass. This legal requirement now adds bicycles to the list of vehicles that must use the next available turnout or other areas to let backed-up traffic pass by.

AB 216: Prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, even if the device does not contain tobacco.

AB 329: Makes participation in sex education courses mandatory for students unless parents opt out (participation was previously voluntary); would also instill curriculum covering HIV prevention and gender identity.

AB 359: Forces grocery stores to keep employees for at least 90 days so they cannot be fired as a result of buyouts or mergers.

AB 604: “Electrically motorized skateboards,” also known as hoverboards, may not be used in public facilities and operators must wear helmets. Riders must be 16 years or older to operate a hoverboard, wear equipment to help with visibility at night, and travel less that 35 miles per hour. It is also illegal to ride or operate one while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

AB 775: Requires licensed facilities offering pregnancy-related services to post signs advertising the free or low-cost access of family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion. 

AB 1014: Will permit family members to obtain a restraining order to keep relatives who might commit gun violence from owning a gun.

AB 1100: Will raise the fee for a statewide proposition from $200 to $2,000.

AB 1422: Forces Uber, Lyft, and similar entities to give the California Department of Motor Vehicles access to driver records.

AB 1461: Qualified people who apply for a driver’s license, identification card, or submit a change of address to the DMV will automatically be registered to vote unless they opt out. (Nicknamed the “Motor Voter” law.)

For more in-depth information and to read the original text of any of these laws, do an Internet search on the bill number.

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