Legislatures kept busy this year passing legislation on documented immigrants, drought restrictions and several fair employment laws. Many of those new laws will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. With most pertaining to employment here are a few to keep in mind while entering the new year.
* AB 2048 - Fire prevention fees: state responsibility areas: Gives property owners in fire-prone areas a few breaks on paying the state's annual $150 fire-prevention fee. It will hault future increases in the fee due to inflation and will reduce the 20% late fee down to 10% in accordance with existing law relating to late fee payments. This bill would delete the definition of “structure” for purposes of the fire prevention fee and instead use “habitable structure,” which the bill would define to mean a building that contains one or more dwelling units that can be occupied for residential use, as provided. The bill would also include the definition of “person” and “owner of a structure,” as provided.
* SB 270 - The statewide plastic bag ban: Beginning July 1 , 2015 a state-wide ban on plastic bags takes effect. This bill, as of July 1, 2015, would prohibit stores that have a specified amount of sales in dollars or retail floor space from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, with specified exceptions. The bill would also prohibit those stores from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for not less than $0.10.
* SB 1168 - Groundwater management - Brings an end to the state's pump-as-you-please policy. This bill would state the policy of the state that groundwater resources be managed sustainably for long-term reliability and multiple economic, social, and environmental benefits for current and future beneficial uses. This bill would state that sustainable groundwater management is best achieved locally through the development, implementation, and updating of plans and programs based on the best available science.
* AB 1739 - Groundwater management: This bill will provide specific authority to a groundwater sustainability agency, as defined in SB 1168 of the 2013–14 Regular Session, to impose certain fees. This bill would require the department, by January 1, 2017, to publish on its Internet Web site best management practices for the sustainable management of groundwater, and would require the department to prepare and release a report by December 31, 2016, on the department’s best estimate of water available for replenishment of groundwater in the state.
* AB 215 - School employees: dismissal or suspension: The bill will authorize the governing board of a school district to amend charges less than 90 days before the hearing on the charges only upon a showing of good cause. The bill would require that the employee be given a meaningful opportunity to respond to the amended charges. This bill would authorize any notice of dismissal or suspension to be given at any time of year, as provided. The bill would require a notice of dismissal or suspension given outside of the instructional year of the schoolsite where the employee is physically employed to be in writing and served personally upon the employee. This bill would authorize an employee who has been placed on suspension pursuant to the above provisions to serve and file with the Office of Administrative Hearings a motion for immediate reversal of suspension, as provided.
* SB 505 - Peace officers: welfare checks: Will require law enforcement agencies to develop, adopt, and implement written policies and standard protocols pertaining to the best manner to conduct a “welfare check,” when the inquiry into the welfare or well-being of the person is motivated by a concern that the person may be a danger to himself or herself or to others. The bill would encourage officers to conduct a search of the Department of Justice Automated Firearms System via the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System to determine whether the person is the registered owner of a firearm.
* AB 60 - Undocumented Immigrants Drivers License: Requires the DMV to issue an original driver license to applicants even if an applicant is unable to submit satisfactory proof of legal presence in the United States. Driver license applicants under AB 60 must meet all other qualifications for licensure and must provide satisfactory proof of identity and California residency.
* AB 1522 - Mandatory Paid Sick Leave: As part of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 this bill will require employers to provide paid sick leave to any employee who worked in California after 30 days at an accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.
* AB 1660 - Nondiscrimination: Driver’s License for Undocumented Persons: In connection to AB 60 this law makes it a violation of FEHA for an employer to discriminate against an individual because he/she holds or presents a California Drivers license issued to undocumented persons who can submit submit satisfactory proof of identity and California residency.
* SB 1360 - Rest an Recovery Period: Confirms that worker recovery periods that are taken pursuant to heat illness regulations are paid breaks and count as hours worked.
* AB 2751 - Protection for Complaints Under the Labor Code: Clarifies that the $10,000 penalty against an employer who discriminates or retaliates against an employee who complains of Labor Code violations will be awarded to the employee or employees who “suffered the violation.”
* AB 1035 - Workers’ Compensation: Relates to collection of death benefits for the death pf persons in specified groups, including firefighters and peace officers
* SB 1034 - Health Care: Deletes certain provisions of California law related to waiting period limitations for health care coverage and clarifies that employer-imposed waiting periods are governed by the 90-day period authorized under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
* SB 683 - Firearm Safety Certificate: This bill would instead, commencing January 1, 2015, and subject to exceptions, prohibit a person from purchasing or receiving any firearm without a valid firearm safety certificate, and would, subject to exceptions, prohibit any person from selling, delivering, loaning, or transferring any firearm to any person who does not have a valid firearm safety certificate.
* AB 1964 - Unsafe handguns Single-Shot Pistols: This bill would make the provisions defining and governing unsafe handguns inapplicable to a single-shot pistol with a break top or bolt action. The bill would make this exemption inapplicable to a semiautomatic pistol that has been temporarily or permanently altered so that it will not fire in a semiautomatic mode. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.