Many new California laws go into effect Jan. 1, including a $1 an hour hike in the minimum wage (from $9 to $10), the barring of concealed firearms on college campuses and K-12 school grounds, and a return to 50-50 raffles by charities.
Here is a review of some of the new California laws:
* Minimum wage will increase from $9 to $10 per hour, making California the highest minimum wage nationwide. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.
* The California State Board of Equalization is mandated by AB 266 to develop a distribution tracking system for commercial cannabis and its products. This bill will facilitate the collection of sales and usage taxes.
* Vaccines: One of 2015’s fiercest fights was over SB 277, which was introduced in the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland and requires full vaccination for most children to enroll in school. Schools will begin vetting students to ensure they have their shots in July, before the 2016-2017 school year begins.
* Search warrants: Arguing our privacy laws lag behind our technology, lawmakers passed SB 178 to require search warrants before law enforcement can obtain your emails, text messages, Internet search history and other digital data.
* Ballot fees: AB 1100 hikes the cost of submitting a proposed ballot initiative from $200 to $2,000, which supporters called a needed screen to discourage frivolous or potentially unconstitutional proposals.
* Grocery jobs: When grocery stores get new owners, AB 359 requires the stores to retain employees for at least 90 days and consider keeping them on after that period ends. While workers can still be dismissed in that window for performance-related reasons, the labor-backed bill seeks to protect workers from losing their jobs to buyouts or mergers.
* Because of AB 1717, prepaid cellular phone users will pay a new surcharge, in part to fund the 9-1-1 system.
* AB 301 mandates that Cal Fire notify fire protection fee payers that the fee can be split between parties when a property is sold.
* Cheerleaders: Cheerleaders who root on professional athletes will be treated as employees under California law, with the accompanying wage and hour protections, under AB 202. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who carried the bill, was a Stanford cheerleader.
* Testing: High school seniors will no longer need to take a long-standing exit exam to graduate. The bill, SB 172, lifts the requirement through the 2017-2018 school year and also applies retroactively to 2004, meaning students who have completed all the other graduation requirements since then can apply for diplomas.
* Guns on campus: Concealed firearms are barred from college campuses and K-12 school grounds under SB 707, which the California College and University Police Chiefs Association sponsored as a public safety corrective.
* Equal pay: SB 358 seeks to close the gap between men and women’s wages by saying they must be paid the same for “substantially similar work,” an upgrade over the current standard, and allowing women 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.
* Sex ed: Student participation in sexual education courses is currently voluntary. AB 329 would make the courses mandatory unless parents specifically seek an opt-out and would update curricula to include, for example, more information about HIV and the spectrum of gender identity.
* Toy guns: Realistic-looking airsoft guns will need to have more features that distinguish them as toys, like fluorescent trigger guards, thanks to SB 199. Advocates said it would help law enforcement avoid tragic mistakes when making split-second decisions, pointing to the 2013 case of a Santa Rosa boy fatally shot by Sonoma County deputies who mistook his toy gun for the real thing.
* Gun restraining orders: Passed last year in response to a troubled young man shooting and killing multiple people in Isla Vista, AB 1014 allows family members to obtain a restraining order temporarily barring gun ownership for a relative they believe to be at risk of committing an act of violence.
* Charity raffles: Professional sports fans could bring home big prizes thanks to SB 549, which authorizes in-game charity raffles allowing the winner to take home 50% of ticket sales. That’s a change from the current system, which permits charity raffles only if 90% of the proceeds go to the cause.
* Back wages: If an employee doesn’t get paid what they are owed, SB 588 allows the California Labor Commissioner to slap a lien on the boss’s property to try and recoup the value of the unpaid wages. This was a slimmed-down version of a prior, unsuccessful bill that was pushed by organized labor but repudiated by business interests - the key difference being that the commissioner, not workers, files the liens.
* Transportation companies: The steady drip of new regulations on companies like Uber and Lyft continued with AB 1422, which requires such businesses to give the California Department of Motor Vehicles access to driver records by participating in the agency’s pull notice program.
CHP reminds motorists of new laws
As part of its mission to save lives, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) seeks to inform people about several new 2016 laws:
* Child safety seats ( AB 53): Beginning January 1, 2017, children under two years of age must ride rear-facing in an appropriate child passenger safety seat. Children weighing 40 or more pounds or standing 40 or more inches tall would be exempt. California law continues to require that all children eight years of age or younger be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
* Hit-and-run ( AB 8): A “Yellow Alert” notification system will be established as of Jan. 1, for specified hit-and-run incidents resulting in death or serious injury. As with AMBER, Silver, or Blue Alerts, the CHP will work with requesting law enforcement agencies to determine whether the hit-and-run meets the criteria for a Yellow Alert, including the use of the freeway Changeable Message Signs (CMS). Criteria established in the law include the availability of information about the hit-and-run suspect or the suspect’s vehicle, and whether disseminating the information will be helpful.
* Silver Alerts ( AB 643): The “Silver Alert” notification system has been amended to allow the alert to be communicated on CMS when there is a vehicle involved in the missing person incident. The Silver Alert is an emergency system that allows law enforcement to broadcast regional or statewide alerts for seniors, or individuals with developmental disabilities or who are cognitively impaired, and are missing and may be in danger.
* Highway lane use ( AB 208): The law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over safely to let traffic pass has been amended to apply to all vehicles, effective Jan. 1. Bicycles will now be included in the legal requirement that slow-moving vehicles use the next available turnout or other area to let backed-up traffic - five or more vehicles - get by.
* Electric bicycles ( AB 1096): The new law creates three separate classes of electric bicycles, defined by their maximum speed and how much power is supplied by the motor. Classes 1 and 2 have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. A Class 3 electric bicycle has a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. The operator of a Class 3 bicycle must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet.
DMV reminds motorists of new laws
* The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) wants to inform the public of several new laws or changes to existing law that, unless otherwise noted, take effect on Jan. 1.
* Traffic Amnesty ( SB 405): Among other things, this law amends the criteria for a person to be eligible for the traffic citation amnesty program. The traffic amnesty program was approved through the 2015/16 Budget Act. A person is eligible for the traffic amnesty program if he or she has not made any payments after September 30, 2015, to a collection program for fines or bail already due.
* Earbuds or Headsets ( SB 491): This law, among other things, makes it unlawful to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle.
* Electrically Motorized Skateboards ( AB 604):This law defines “electrically motorized board,” and restricts their operation on public facilities, requires boards to be equipped with safety equipment, and authorizes cities and counties to regulate their use.In addition, the law limits the board’s operation to individuals 16 years or older, requires operators to wear a bicycle helmet, wear safety equipment to increase visibility at night, and limits their operation to roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
* California Residency Requirement ( AB 1465): This law will require an applicant for an original driver license or identification card to provide proof of California state residency, starting July 1, 2016, and it will bring DMV into compliance with a federal law requirement.
For complete information on bills enacted in 2015, refer to the California Legislative Counsel website leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
CHP, DMV, Sacramento Bee