New California state laws for the new year

December 31, 2013 

Below is a partial list of new California laws signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown that go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, or later as noted.


Employment

AB 10 – Increases California's current minimum wage (of $8 per hour) in two $1 increments: to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and from $9 per hour to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016. This is the first minimum wage increase in California in five years. Increasing the minimum wage will also increase the minimum salary amount employees must earn to qualify as "exempt" employees under California state law executive, administrative, or professional exemptions. One of the requirements for employees to be exempt from overtime and other requirements for hourly-wage employees is that their monthly salary must be at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment. Under current law, the earnings threshold for exempt employees is $2,773.34 per month. Under AB 10, the minimum monthly salary for exempt employees will increase to $3,120 on July 1, 2014, and $3,466.67 on January 1, 2016.

Some California cities and counties have already increased their minimum wage above the current $8/hour. In San Francisco the minimum wage is $10.55/hour, and in San Jose it is $10/hour.

AB 218 – Employment applications: criminal history. Existing law prohibits both public and private employers from asking an applicant for employment to disclose (either in writing or verbally) any information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction. AB 218 will prohibit a state or local agency, as of July 1, 2014, from asking an applicant to disclose information regarding a criminal conviction, except as specified, until the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications for the position.

AB 556 – Adds "military and veteran status" to the list of categories protected from employment discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and also provides an exemption for an inquiry by an employer regarding military or veteran status for the purpose of awarding a veteran's preference as permitted by law.

SB 288 – Employment protections: time off. Existing law prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating against an employee for taking time off to serve on a jury, an employee who is a victim of a crime for taking time off to appear in court as a witness in any judicial proceeding, or an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or a victim of sexual assault for taking time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain prescribed relief.

SB 390 - Employee wage withholdings: failure to remit. Existing law makes it a crime for an employer to fail to make agreed-upon payments to health and welfare funds, pension funds, or various benefit plans. Such crime is punishable as a felony if the amount unpaid exceeds $500, and as a misdemeanor if the amount is less than $500. SB 390 extends the definition of a crime to include an employer's failure to remit withholdings from an employee's wages that were made pursuant to state, local, or federal law.

SB 400 – Employment protections: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Existing law prohibits an employer from taking adverse employment action against a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault who takes time off from work to attend to issues arising as a result of the domestic violence or sexual assault, as long as the employee complies with certain conditions. It also provides protections to employees who are discharged, or discriminated or retaliated against.

SB 666 – Suspends or revokes an employer's business license for retaliation against employees and others on the basis of citizenship and immigration status, and establishes a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

SB 770 – Unemployment compensation: disability benefits: Paid Family Leave program. Under existing law, the family temporary disability insurance program (aka Paid Family Leave) provides up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to employees who take time off work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or domestic partner, or parent, or to bond with a minor child within one year of the birth or placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption. These benefits have been in effect since July 2004. SB 770 expands the scope of the family temporary disability program to include time off to care for a seriously ill sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law. Effective July 1, 2014.


Transportation laws

AB 60 – Requires the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver license to illegal aliens who can prove identity and California residency and meet all other licensing requirements, such as passing the written exams and driving tests. The DMV will design a special driver license that complies with the U.S. government's Real ID Act. AB 60 also makes it a violation of law to discriminate against anyone on the basis of having this new license, and the law explicitly prohibits using the new license for criminal investigation, arrest or detention based on immigration status. New law fully effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

Amber Alert expansion - This law requires law enforcement to request activation of the Amber Alerts after receiving a report that a child has been taken by anyone, including a custodial parent or guardian, who may cause serious bodily injury or death to the child.

AB 1371 - Bicycles: Passing Distance - This law prohibits motorists from passing a bicycle with less than three feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or driver. When three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not. This law will go into effect Sept. 16, 2014.

Charter Bus Carriers: Limousines: Emergency Exits : By Jan. 1, 2016, every limousine that has been modified or extended to accommodate additional passengers shall have two rear doors and one or two internally removable rear emergency windows.

Hit and Run: Statute of Limitations: This law extends the statute of limitations for hit-and-run collisions in which death or permanent, serious injury was a result. A criminal complaint may be filed within three years of the offense, or one year after the person was initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of the offense, which ever comes later, but in no case more than six years after the offense.

Registration Fees: Vehicle Theft: This law authorizes counties to increase registration fees by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 for commercial vehicles to fund programs related to vehicle theft crimes in those counties.

Search Warrants: Chemical Tests: This amendment to current law authorizes the issuance of a search warrant to draw blood from a person in a reasonable, medically approved manner, to show that the person violated misdemeanor DUI provisions when that person has refused an officer's request to submit to, or has failed to complete, a blood test. This law has been operative since Sept. 20, 2013.

Teen Drivers: This law prohibits a person who is under 18 years of age from using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving, even if it is equipped with a hands-free device.

SB 251 – (Calderon) – Insurance: notice: electronic transmission. SB 251 allows insurance companies to transmit notices electronically instead of by postal mail, with a customer's consent.

SB 353 – (Lieu) – Requires health plans and health insurers to translate coverage documents in the same language they use to market or advertise their products, if existing law does not already require that language to be translated.


Privacy & security

AB 658 – Personal information: disclosure. Existing law (the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act) prohibits a provider of health care, a health care service plan, contractor, or corporation and its subsidiaries and affiliates from intentionally sharing, selling, using for marketing, or otherwise using any medical information for any purpose not necessary to provide health care services to a patient, except as expressly authorized by the patient. Violations of those provisions are subject to a civil action for compensatory and punitive damages, and, if a violation results in economic loss or personal injury to a patient, it is punishable as a misdemeanor.

SB 282 – Confidential medical information: required authorization to disclose. Existing law (the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act) requires, among other things, that a demand for settlement or offer to compromise issued on a patient's behalf prior to the service of a complaint in any action arising out of the professional negligence of a physician and surgeon be accompanied by an authorization to disclose medical information to the persons or organizations insuring, responsible for, or defending the professional liability of the physician and surgeon in order to allow an evaluation of the merits of the demand for settlement or offer of compromise.

SB 568 – Privacy: Internet: minors. California Internet Eraser Law. As of Jan.1, 2015, prohibits an operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application from marketing or advertising specified types of products or services to a minor. Also prohibits an operator from knowingly using, disclosing, or compiling the personal information of a minor (or allowing a third party to do so) for the purpose of marketing or advertising specified types of products or services.


Covered California and the Affordable Care Act

AB 422 – Requires information on Covered California's health care coverage and the continued availability of Medi-Cal options to be included on the National School Lunch Program notifications that school districts provide to students.

SB 332 – Requires transparency for California's contracts and rates of payment to vendors, contractors, board and staff. Such contracts must be available for public inspection under the California Public Records Act, except for health plan contracts and their rates, which are made public in three and four years respectively.


Other

AB 362 – (Ting) – Until Jan.1, 2019, excludes from gross income any amounts received by an employee from an employer to compensate for additional federal income taxes incurred by the employee on employer-provided health-care benefits because (for federal income tax purposes) the same-sex spouse or domestic partner of the employee is not considered the spouse of the employee. (The exclusion from gross income will only apply for domestic partners now, since the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex spouses in the Windsor case.)

AB 1266 – Pupil rights: sex-segregated school programs and activities. – "California Bathroom Bill" – Controversial law allowing transgender students in public schools to choose which restrooms they use and whether they participate in boy or girl sports. Forces all California public schools to permit biological boys in girls' restrooms and showers, along with biological girls in boys' restrooms and showers.

AB 1308 – Authorizes a midwife to directly obtain supplies and devices, obtain and administer drugs and diagnostic tests, order testing and receive reports that are necessary to his/her practice of midwifery and consistent with his/her scope of practice. Expands the disclosures required to be made by a midwife to a prospective client to include the specific procedures that warrant consultation with a physician and surgeon.


Details of these bills and others enacted in 2013 can be seen at leginfo.ca.gov.

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