new California laws
Broad changes in legislation kick in Tuesday, with impact on guns, paper straws, cash bail and the minimum wage
By Jordan Graham – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
firstname.lastname@example.org @JordanSGraham on Twitter
New rules for criminal justice, restrictions on plastic straws and a new minimum age to buy a gun — all are part of a broad slate of state laws set to take effect next year.
Some start Jan. 1, others later in the year, but many have the potential to change your life in some way.
Here are some of the notables:
Stricter gun laws
Starting Jan. 1 — Tuesday — you’ll have to be at least 21 to buy any gun in California. The state is raising the age limit to buy shotguns and rifles from 18 to 21, a rule already in place for handguns. The new restriction on long gun purchases won’t extend to members of the military, police and licensed hunters. Beginning next year, anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence will be banned for life from owning a gun. And Californians seeking concealed weapons permits now have to complete at least eight hours of firearms safety training and pass a live-fire shooting exam to demonstrate proficiency, following a state law that recently took effect.
California’s minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $11 per hour at companies with 25 or fewer employees, and from $11 to $12 per hour at companies with 26 or more workers. Over the course of a year, those bumps could equate to between a $1,040 or $2,080 jump in base earnings for employees who work 40 hours per week.
Fewer plastic straws
Full-service, dine-in restaurants won’t provide plastic straws unless you ask. While the state law doesn’t include fast-food restaurants and cafes, a Los Angeles ordinance that phases in next year does (though drive-thrus remain exempted). San Francisco, meanwhile, will ban plastic straws starting in July.
No more cash bail
In 2019, California will be the first state to eliminate cash bail for suspects awaiting trial — a move aimed at making the system more equitable for lowincome families. Cash bail will be replaced by a riskassessment system that allows local courts to decide who can and can’t get out of jail while awaiting trial. Most defendants accused of nonviolent
misdemeanors would be out within 12 hours of booking without seeing a judge.
Legal street food
California’s v ibrant street food culture will be legalized statewide in 2019, protecting street side vendors who have long been a part of the local economy but who’ve run the risk of being shut down, jailed or even deported. A new state law stops local governments form cracking down on street sales of food and merchandise until municipalities implement licensing systems, something few cities have in place. The law also sets limits on what cities can regulate, and reduces the penalties for street vendors.
Under the new licensing systems, cities will be able to tax and create health regulations for street vendors. Still unknown: whether the new rules will raise the cost of doing business for the sidewalk hawkers.
Expunged pot charges
Hundreds of thousands of old cannabis convictions could be expunged next year.
In addition to legalizing recreational cannabis, Proposition 64, passed by voters two years ago, made it possible for people with past marijuana convictions to petition to have their criminal histories erased or reduced. But in the year that Proposition 64 has been in effect, few people have changed their records. The state estimates nearly 220,000 cases remain eligible for a new look.
Starting next year, the burden to re-examine those old pot convictions will fall to the state. The California Department of Justice will have until July 1, 2019, to proactively identify cases where sentences are eligible to be diminished or dismissed. The state will then send those cases to local prosecutors, who will have the chance to challenge the new sentences by July 1, 2020.
Preventing #MeToo incidents
Most employers in California will have to offer sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. Harassment training previously has been required of supervisors at companies with 50 or more workers, but by the end of next year the rules will extend to all employers with five or more workers. Also, the training will be required for all workers, not just supervisors, with courses repeated once every two years.
Happy Meal, no soda
In an effort to curb childhood obesity, restaurants next year will no longer be allowed to automatically include soda, juice, or even chocolate milk as part of a kids’ meal that feature a beverage. Instead, kids meals will come with either milk or water unless the customer requests something else. Restaurants that don’t comply could be fined up to $500 by the third violation.
New DUI penalties will compel more offenders to install ignition interlocks in their cars, a device that requires drivers to pass a breathalyzer test each time they start their vehicle. First-time offenders whose drunken driving caused injuries will have to use the device for six months. Repeat offenders will be required to have the in-car apparatus for one to four years. The devices are in lieu of suspending offenders’ licenses — a practice that authorities say was ineffective in deterring drunken driving.
Women on boards
The boards of publicly traded California companies must include at least one woman by the end of 2019. Currently, more than a quarter of the largest California- based companies have no women serving on their boards, according to state data. By 2021, the requirements will become more stringent: corporation with five directors will need to have two women in the boardroom, and companies with six or more directors will need to have at least three women on their boards.
If you drive a zero emission vehicle and use a high-occupancy-vehicle lane decal issued prior to 2017, you won’t be able to drive solo in the HOV lane anymore. The state wants to unclog HOV lanes and, as part of that effort, is stripping the perk from more than 220,000 vehicles. Those drivers can’t reapply for a new decal unless they get new cars.
Defendants under the age of 16 no longer can be tried as an adult for any violent crime. Instead, they’ll face limited incarceration in juvenile facilities but not time in prison. Similarly, children under age 12 no longer will be prosecuted at any level for crimes other than murder or rape. They’ll instead be directed to counseling, dependency court or other services.
Nonbinary driver’s licenses
The Department of Motor Vehicles will add a third gender identity option next year for driver’s licenses and state identification cards. The new option will be “nonbinary” and will be denoted with an “X” next to the gender listing on the card.
Police agencies will have to release more information — in the form of video footage and personnel records — about officers and deputies. Starting Tuesday, the personnel record disclosure rules will apply to officers who use deadly force, are accused of sexual assault or other misconduct. The body cam disclosure rule will be in effect for any police shooting or any incident that involves the deadly use of force.
Bike helmet fix-it tickets
Families of minors cited for riding their bikes without a helmet will be able to avoid paying a fine if they deliver proof within 120 days of the citation that the child has a proper helmet and has taken a safety class.
A new law expands the types of venues that can host events where onsite cannabis sale and consumption is allowed. In the past, such events have been permitted only at county fairgrounds. Now, cities will have the power to determine which locations can host temporary marijuana events — making it possible they’ll be held more regularly and in a greater variety of venues.