California is a big state which includes 80 assembly districts and 40 senate districts that all can propose laws that may or may not eventually make their way to the governor’s desk. This year, Governor Jerry Brown signed his name onto nearly 900 pieces of legislation, many of which will become law Sunday morning.
The laws range from those governing what kind of clips are legal in semi-automatic rifles to requiring single toilet public restrooms to be labeled as all-gender. One even makes denim the state’s fabric, a throwback to the mining days following the discovery of gold in the mid 1800s. We picked 10 new laws that could impact your daily life so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of assembly and senate bills.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to leave your current job and seek out higher pay or you’re just seeking greater opportunity, this may be good news for you. After the governor signed into law two extensions of the state’s Fair Pay Act it will now be illegal for employers to base your pay exclusively off your previous salary when people are performing substantially similar jobs.
The new law could benefit women and minorities by potentially shielding them from hiring practices that previously allowed for past earnings to dictate future salaries, ones that groups like the Institute for Women’s Policy say have contributed to a wage gap of about 20 cents for every dollar a man earns. Data from The Pew Research Center published this year suggests a similar gap exists with minorities, as white men outpaced all earners male or female except for Asian men.
Background Checks for Rideshare Drivers
Trips taken with Lyft, Uber, See Jane Go and other ridesharing companies may become a little bit safer after the governor’s decision to sign into law a bill that requires them to screen potential drivers with stricter background checks. Things that would disqualify people for driving for these ride sharing companies are a conviction for a violent felony, being registered as a sex offender or having a driving under the influence conviction in the past seven years. A separate law also lowers the threshold for your Lyft or Uber driver to be considered legally drunk as it forbids them from operating if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or higher.
Cyber Bullying Extended to Sexting
The definition of cyberbullying inside California public schools will be expanded to include sharing nude photos or harassing videos of other students. Students caught sharing these types of files with the purpose to “humiliate or harass” other students will be subject to expulsion starting in 2017. The new law also requires the state’s Department of Education to post statistics regarding this new type of cyber sexual bullying online. California, unlike other states, lacks legislation to address sexting among minors, but this new law gives schools the power to reduce instances of harassment.
Smoking at Youth Sporting Events
This year provided several instances of how potentially dangerous an exploding electronic cigarette could be but now a new law will prohibit them from being used around youth sporting events. The bill signed by Brown in August bans people from smoking within 250 feet of Little League baseball games and similar events builds on an existing ban that was already in place for playgrounds and public parks. The ban is extended to e-cigarettes and those found in violation of the law are subject to a $250 fine per violation.
Going Totally Hands Free in 2017
Starting Sunday, drivers in California will have to go completely hands-free while using mobile devices and driving, as a new state law goes into effect banning drivers from doing anything more than a “single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.” Under the new law, drivers can still operate their phone through voice dictation but cannot physically hold the phone as it must now be mounted to the dashboard or windshield. The law does not apply to software that is part of the vehicle itself. hose found violating the law are subject to a base fine of $20 with each subsequent violation yielding a $50 base fine.
Selfies and Other Voter Law Changes
Prior to this year Californians wanting to post a selfie of themselves inside the voting booth risked breaking the law to do so. Although nobody has been prosecuted for violating this law, it still lumped California in with about 20 other states that regarded the act as a crime. However, with the governor’s blessing, next year those feeling the need to share their vote on social media are free to do so.
The law had been subject to multiple legal challenges on the basis that the previous law had restricted voters’ rights to engage in political speech representing an infringement of their first amendment rights to free speech. Other voting laws going into effect will allow sealed vote-by- mail ballots to be turned in by someone other than the previously allowed relative or household member in the event the voter who it’s addressed to cannot do so. Felons serving sentences in county jails will also be allowed to vote.
Saving Animals from Dangerous Situations
The next time you see an animal locked inside a car in a perilous situation,you will be able to break them out and not be held liable for the damages to the vehicle. Under a new law signed into effect by the governor in September, if a person sees an animal in a dangerous situation—locked car with insufficient air or protection from the elements—and notifies the authorities and feels the responders may not make it in time to save the animal they can take action to save them.
A Drink While You Wait
The next time you go in for a haircut you could spend your time waiting with much more than a stack of magazines as a new law will now allow beauty salons and barbershops to offer beer and wine to customers at no charge. The law will limit the amount to be served to 12 ounces for beer and six ounces for wine but will allow businesses to serve alcohol without a license. Some establishments in Long Beach including Razorbacks, The Lodge and Syndicate Barber Shops already offer customers drinks while they wait, but after January 1 the law will extend that ability to others in the city.
Transparency for Government Executive Pay Raises
Starting in 2017 a new state law will require public bodies like city councils and boards of supervisors to publicly disclose any wage or benefit increases for government executives prior to a vote to finalize them. Currently the Ralph M. Brown Act allows for discussion of pay and benefit increases to be held in closed sessions before a public vote to pass them. Under the law, the proposed increases would have to be publicly summarized during open session rather than just skipping to a vote.
Minimum Wage Increase
Minimum wage workers in California will get a 50 cent raise starting January 1, the first of a series of annual raises that will bring the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. The raise schedule jumps to $11 in 2018 and increases by one dollar each year until hitting the $15 mark. The law kicks in for employers with 26 or more employees and gives those employing 25 persons or fewer an additional year to comply with the law. In September, the Long Beach City Council adopted the state’s wage schedule as its guide and abandoned a previous provision that would have required a study to be conducted prior to moving the city’s minimum wage past $13 in 2019.