BY HELEN LAME´
January 1 wan’t just the beginning of a new year, it was also the day on which California ushered in new laws. Here are eight of the newest Californian laws that came into effect on January 1, 2019 and which you must be aware of. After all, these laws could change your life. Resources such as PrisonFinder could be instrumental in finding your friends and family members who might have fallen to any of these new laws. Better still, be aware, and be safe.
1. Worker Pay
With California’s minimum wage climbing up to the maximum of $15 per hour, this year, the base hourly wage is now pegged at $12 for companies with 26 employees or more and $11 for micro-mini businesses. Small businesses will achieve the minimum wage of $15 on January 1, 2023. However, this law also provides for a postponement in wage increase, should there be an economic crisis.
Come 2022, a full-time worker getting a minimum wage can see his income increasing from $20,000 a year to $30,000 a year.
2. Gender Identification
Californians who neither fall in the male category nor female but a third gender can now opt for a driver’s license by subscribing to the new “non-binary” gender category, as Senate Bill 179 states. It will be symbolized by the letter “X.”
However, under the First Step Act, if health care workers in this state “wilfully and repeatedly” refuse to use the “preferred name” of a transgender patient, they could be punished under law, ranging from a monetary penalty to jailtime.
3. Gun Control
Already one of the strictest laws on gun control in the United States, California continues to make it more stringent. Through the Senate Bill 1100, the age limit for buying rifles and shotguns has been increased from 18 to 21, as is the case with handguns.
For anyone wanting to possess concealed carry weapons, it is mandatory to undergo at least eight hours’ training and pass a live-fire test of shooting. These will come through with Assembly Bill 2103.
If a Californian citizen is convicted of misdemeanour domestic violence, he or she will no longer be allowed to own a weapon, under Assembly Bill 3129.
4. Climate Change
Lawmakers in California now believe that at least 60% of energy must be produced from solar, wind and other renewable sources. Electricity generation from fossil fuels will be completely phased out by 2045. California is America’s second state after Hawaii to make this commitment.
Yet another law prevents the Trump administration from increasing oil drilling at the California coast. It seeks to do this by blocking new pipelines and other related construction in the state waters.
5. Sexual Misconduct
After the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment at the workplace gathered sufficient momentum, enormous changes were brought in to protect workers from this while at work. For instance, earlier, organizations that settle issues of workplace harassment with their employees can now no longer keep such employees from discussing it with other colleagues. In fact, they were forced to sign a non-disparagement agreement to this effect.
But with Senate Bill 820 coming into effect, this no longer holds good. Now, a victim might still not want his or her name to be disclosed, but the perpetrator’s name has to be made public.
Under Senate Bill 1300, workers no longer have to sign a release of liability as a pre-condition of continued employment or as a trade-off for a bonus. And this might be the most constructive law of them all: Senate Bill 1343 says that all California employeeswill be given sexual harassment training twice a year.
Those who have been sexually assaulted stand to seek civil damages from such experienced for up to 10 years, according to Assembly Bill 1619. With Senate Bill 826 coming into effect, California’s public companies will mandatorily need to have at least one woman director on their boards by the end of 2019.
6. Police Shootings
The public outrage and protests over frequent police shootings forced the California government to take cognizance of the problem and step up accountability and transparency in matters of civilians being killed by officers.
Senate Bill 1421 gives the public total access to internal investigations into incidents of the police killing or injuring individuals, apart from opens public access to internal investigations of incidents where police killed or seriously injured someone, as well as findings supported by evidence of sexual assault and of telling lies at the workplace.
Beginning July 2019, under Assembly Bill 748, law enforcement agencies will be required to release audio or video footage as evidence of a shooting or other incidents where force was used within 45 days.
7. Education Laws
By December 2019, all schools will have to put into effect a set of procedures that prevent students from bullying and cyberbullying their classmates. According to SB-830, the California Department of Education will be required to list all instructional materials and resources relating to media literacy on its official website.
Besides, former and present students will no longer be subject to paying any debts raised by public schools or school districts, under AB-1974.
8. Electric Scooters
Riding electric scooters is a rage these days, as the streets of California will testify to. Now, Assembly Bill 2989 allows individuals 18 years or more to ride these scooters unaided by helmets, on city streets. They will have to adhere to a speed limit of a maximum of 35 miles per hour.
With the above laws, the lives of Californian residents have been improved, making them safer and the State an easier place to live in. It is therefore necessary for all residents of this state to know the scope of each of these laws that will make a difference to their life.