Each year, the great State of California institutes a buffet of new laws to (theoretically) improve our quality of life, our safety, and enhance our rights. While some recently passed laws are routinely ignored (hello, headlights-on-when-windshield-wipers-are-on), the general idea is, “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.”

 

Keep reading, and you’ll note two different markers on the bill titles. AB means Assembly Bill; SB stands for Senate Bill. The designation helps consumers better understand where the new laws are generated, and can better illustrate which set of lawmakers is responsible for their creation and passage.

 

Following is a list of the new state laws that will take effect on January 1, 2020. (Data provided by ABC7.com.)

 

PRIVACY

 

AB 375: Online privacy

Want to know what information companies like Facebook or Google are collecting about you? The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) gives internet users more control over their data. Among other things, the law gives users the right to know what data is collected, the right to reject the sale of your information and the right to delete your data. (See addendum article for particulars on this very important law.)

 

WORKPLACE

 

SB 3: Minimum wage

Another pay hike is on the way for minimum wage workers. The minimum wage in California goes up by one dollar to $12 an hour for workers at companies with 25 or fewer employees and to $13 an hour for workers at larger companies.

 

AB 5: Independent workers

While aimed directly at gig workers (think Uber, Lyft and DoorDash), this new law may also apply to many more contract or independent worker in California. Under AB-5, workers would be considered employees, and are entitled to minimum wage, workers‘ compensation, and other benefits. (29th District Assemblymember Mark Stone was a co-sponsor of this bill.)

 

SB 188: Hairstyles

California becomes the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination based on a person's natural hairstyle or hair texture. Protected hairstyles include braids, twists and locks. Remember the high school wrestler in New Jersey who was forced by the match referee to cut off his dreadlocks? California says, “Not in this state, you don’t.”

 

SB 142: Lactation accommodations

While California has had a law requiring employers to provide breaks for nursing mothers, many were forced to express breast milk in a bathroom stall or office closet. This new law requires companies to provide appropriate lactation accommodations that is close to the employee's work area, has electrical plugs and is free of intrusion. All working mothers, say it with me: It’s about damned time.

 

AB 51: Arbitration agreements

Starting January 1, workers can't be forced into mandatory arbitration by an employer. The law bans mandatory arbitration agreements with employees. The law does not apply to arbitration agreements entered into prior to January 1, 2020.

 

SB 1343: Sexual harassment

Requires businesses with at least five employees to provide sexual harassment training to its employees within six months of being hired, and every two years after that. (Is anyone else surprised that this is JUST NOW a thing?)

 

SB 83: Paid family leave

New parents will have more time to care for their child. Benefits under Paid Family Leave will increase from six weeks to eight weeks starting on July 1, 2020.

 

HOUSING

 

AB 1482: Rent control

Communities without their own rent control laws will now be covered by statewide rent control protections. The law limits rent increases to 5 percent each year plus inflation, but never above 10 percent total. The law does not apply to housing built in the 15 years prior. The limit is a rolling number so the date housing is excluded changes every year.

 

AB 652: Religious displays

You have more protections to display religious items like menorahs or crosses outside your home. The law prohibits landlords and homeowner associations from banning the display of religious items on entry doors or door frames. The items cannot be larger than 26 by 12 inches.

 

SB 222: Housing discrimination

This law expands existing law to protect veterans and military personnel against housing discrimination.

 

MARRIAGE

 

SB 30: Domestic partners

What's good for same-sex couples is good for heterosexual couples. This law allows heterosexual couples to register as domestic partners instead of getting married. Currently, only heterosexual couples age 62 or older were allowed to register as domestic partners because of social security benefits. The new law could help couples with combined higher incomes avoid the federal marriage tax penalty.

 

EDUCATION

 

SB 419: School suspensions

Students in elementary school can't be so easily suspended for causing trouble at school. The law bans schools from suspending students in grades 4-8 for disrupting school activities or defying teachers and administrators. Students in grades K-3 already have this protection. High school students must wait until 2025 for the same benefit.

 

HEALTHCARE

 

SB 104: Healthcare for undocumented immigrants

California becomes the first state in the nation to offer government-subsidized health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally. The law expands the Medicaid program to include low-income adults age 25 or younger regardless of their immigration status.

 

AB 2119: Transgender youth

Transgender youth in the foster care system will get appropriate health care. The law is the first in the country to include access to gender-affirming medical services, mental health counseling, hormone therapy and surgery.

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

 

SB 439: Juvenile hall

This law changes the age that a minor can be sent to juvenile hall. Minors under 12 who commit non-violent crimes would be released to his or her parent or legal guardian instead of being sent to juvenile hall. The law does not apply to minors who commit murder, rape, or great bodily harm.

 

SB 970: Human trafficking

Operators of motels and hotels in California must provide training to teach its staff how to identify victims of human trafficking.

 

ANIMALS

 

SB 1249: Animal testing

Prohibits the sale of cosmetic products with ingredients that were tested on animals after January 1, 2020. The law does not affect products sold globally where animal testing is required by law.

 

AB 1762: Dog areas

The California Department of Parks and Recreation has until July 1, 2020 to establish a comprehensive list of state parks that allow dogs, including the specific areas that allow dogs and the total miles of trails that are open to dogs.

 

WILDFIRES

 

SB 167: Public safety power shutoffs

Requires utilities like PG&E to devise plans on reducing the negative impact of planned power shutoffs to first responders and people with disabilities.

 

AB 247: Tree trimming

Gives the California Public Utilities Commission more oversight over tree trimming efforts by utilities. Power companies would have to submit timely reports on their brush and tree trimming work. San Lorenzo Valley residents may have helped to drive this legislation forward based on their responses to the 2019 spate of tree trimming.

 

SB 209: Wildfire warning center

Establishes a wildfire warning center to broaden the state's ability to predict and prepare for wildfire. The center would rely on a statewide network of automated weather stations and fire detection cameras.

 

Want additional information on these new laws? Visit www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

 

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