NEW LAWS AFFECTING CALIFORNIA IN 2018

Courtesy Melody Gutierrez,  SFChronicle.com, December 29, 2017

SACRAMENTO — Whether you cross the street, head to college or apply for a new job, one of the hundreds of new laws that California will add to the books on New Year’s Day is likely to affect you.

The biggest change, however, is that licensed dispensaries can legally sell recreational marijuana to adults 21 years and older starting Monday. About four dozen dispensaries are licensed by the state to sell marijuana for recreational use, with many other retailers expected to receive licenses in 2018.

Another significant state law bars local law enforcement officers from cooperating with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on deportations except in cases in which immigrants had been convicted of certain crimes. Officers also will be barred from asking about a person’s immigration status.

The 800-plus laws passed this year show that California and its Democratic-led Legislature are flexing their political power in a state that has stood up to President Trump’s conservative policies. Democrats took the first step in making community college free, to address knee-buckling student debt: The first year will be tuition-free for new students. State lawmakers approved long-sought reforms to boost housing production, and approved new fees to pay for it.

Pedestrians will no longer face jaywalking fines for entering a crosswalk after the countdown signal starts, a law that few people knew about unless they had received a ticket. Those looking for a higher-paying job in the new year will no longer have to justify their current salary after lawmakers banned employers from asking what prospective workers make.

“It’s full-speed ahead for liberal Democrats in California,” said Larry Gerston, an emeritus professor of political science at San Jose State University. “I think the state will continue on this liberal trajectory into 2018.”

Here is a look at other laws that could affect you:

At home

SB2 by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego: Refinancing your mortgage just got a little more expensive. The housing crunch is hitting Californians hard, and lawmakers responded this year with 15 housing bills meant to spur affordable housing development and rent subsidies. To pay for some of the housing relief programs, the state has added a fee of $75 to $225 on real estate transactions, such as refinancing.

SB450 by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica: Far more voters will receive their ballot in their mailbox this year under a new law that allows counties to mail all voters a ballot that can be cast at voting centers up to 10 days before election day. The ballots can also be returned by mail. The law passed in 2016, but it will become effective Jan. 1.

SB258 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens: California will be the first state to require ingredient labeling on cleaning products used in homes, schools and workplaces.

SB442 by Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton: Homeowners adding a pool to their backyard will be required to include more safety features to prevent drownings. The California Pool Safety Act of 1996 required single-family homes to have at least one safety feature — such as a pool fence or alarms on doors leading to the pool. California will now require two safety measures on newly constructed pools.

At work

SB63 by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara: Nearly 3 million more people will qualify for parental leave in 2018. The state will require employers with 20 to 49 workers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave. The law aligns those workplaces with the parental protections already required of larger employers to give mothers and fathers time to bond with a new child.

AB168 by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton: Prospective employers cannot ask how much you make at your current job, a provision meant to ensure lower paid workers that tend to be women and minorities don’t have their salary history continue to keep them underpaid.

SB3 by former state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco: The state’s minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $11 an hour at workplaces with 26 or more employees and to $10.50 at smaller companies. The increase is part of a law passed two years ago to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 for all workers.

At school

AB19 by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles: The first-year of community college will be free in California for first-time students. The state will cover tuition for an additional 19,000 students who don’t already receive fee waivers. More details on the tuition-free year will be revealed in the governor’s January budget proposal.

AB10 by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens: Schools that serve students from sixth grade and up and receive Title 1 funding for low-income students will have to provide free tampons and pads in at least half of the restrooms on campus.

SB250 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys: California is putting an end to “lunch shaming,” which is what critics call the policy in place at some schools where students are denied a hot lunch when their parents have not paid school meal fees. Students were given a snack instead, and sometimes watched in embarrassment as their hot lunch was taken away and dumped in the trash. Under the law, schools can’t delay or deny food to students due to unpaid school lunch accounts.

AB424 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento: School district superintendents will no longer be able to decide whether teachers and other employees with concealed weapon permits should be able to bring their guns on campus. A handful of school districts had begun permitting teachers to carry concealed firearms in the classroom, prompting the Legislature to rescind that authority for superintendents.

On the road

SB65 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo: The state updated its laws to keep up with new marijuana regulations, making it illegal to smoke or ingest pot while driving or riding in a car.

AB390 by Santiago: Pedestrians will have more leeway when crossing the street after the state did away with a Penal Code section that prohibited people from entering a crosswalk if the countdown signal had already started. Starting Monday, those out for a stroll can enter the crosswalk during the countdown as long as they cross safely before it finishes.

AB2687 by former Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo: Uber, Lyft and other hired drivers will be held to a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving. Those drivers cannot have a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.04 percent or more when a paying passenger is in their car. The law passed in 2016 and takes effect July 1.

SB20 by Hill: Passengers riding in a bus that has seat belts will have to use them beginning July 1.

AB503 by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale: The DMV will no longer require that parking tickets are paid off before drivers can register a vehicle or renew a driver’s license. Low-income Californians and students at California State University or state community colleges will be offered payment plans for parking fines.

SB1 by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose: The cost of registering a vehicle will increase between $25 and $175 based on a car’s current value. The increase is part of a larger package to fund new roads, bridges and improvements to public transportation.

For parents

AB1127 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier: New dads will see more diaper changing stations in men’s bathrooms under a law that will require state and local governments, as well as public venues like theaters, grocery stores and restaurants, to ensure that they have at least one diaper changing station available for men and women. The law applies to all new construction or significant remodels.

For pets

AB1491 by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas: Pricey dogs and cats can no longer be financed through rent-to-own agreements. California will ban the financing method after people complained that they did not understand that they were renting the pet, which was subject to repossession if the loan was not paid back.

For dinosaurs

AB1540 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica: California has a state bird, flower, fossil and fabric. Now, the state has an official state dinosaur. The Augustynolophus morrisi is a duck-billed, plant-eating dinosaur that has only been found in California, according to the bill’s analysis.

Delayed starts

SB384 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco: A sweeping overhaul of the state’s sex offender registry will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

SB179 by Atkins: Californians who do not identify as male or female will have to wait until 2019 to be given a third option for listing their gender on driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

AB485 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach: Pet stores in California will be allowed to sell only rescue and shelter dogs, cats and rabbits. The bill goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

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