January 1st Sees California Enact 900 New Laws!
With over 39,000,000 people currently calling it home, the State of California is, by far, the United States’ most populous state. And as diverse and unique as the citizens of the Golden State are, so too are the new set of over 900(!) laws that go into effect on January 1st.
Addressing a wide range of topics from the way we pump groundwater to the way we transport our groceries, many of these newly implemented laws are sure to play an important role in your life and impact your everyday activity. With some seemingly silly, some gloriously groundbreaking, and some just plain common sense, this list of 900+ new laws will shape California’s future both immediately and in the long term. Let’s examine several of these notable new laws, and take a look at how they may just change the way you, and your neighbors, live.
Tired of having to choose between paper and plastic? That choice will no longer be a worry as California will institute a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and pharmacies. The measure, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday, September 30th of last year, prohibits stores from giving away the oft-littered bags free with purchase, and requires establishments to provide customers with compostable and recycled paper bag options at the cost of $0.10/per bag. Though California is now set to ban the use of the bags on a statewide level, cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco already have similar measures on the books, and other states like New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are following suit with similar measures to fight single-use bag waste. The law hopes to curb the more than 13 million plastic bags distributed each year, and will fully roll out (by extending to convenience and liquor stores) in July of 2016.
Ever want to kill your smartphone? Now you’ll have the chance as one of California’s 900 new laws requires all smartphones sold in state after July 1st to have a kill switch that allows users to remotely lock and wipe data from their phone in the event of a theft. The law, drafted in response to a wave of smartphone thefts across the state, allows manufacturers to design and implement their own kill switch systems with the caveat that they must allow an authorized user to lock and wipe the data from a phone remotely; must be resistant to attempts to access data by reinstalling the operating software; and must allow users to disable the kill switch feature, if desired. The law, which is expected to impact smart phones nationwide, has already caught the attention of major phone manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft, and Google, with all three companies committed to adding or improving the feature on their devices to comply with the law.
In response to the high profile hacking and posting of many nude personal celebrity photos early last year, California is extending the new privacy protections recently ushered in to protect victims of “revenge porn,” to those who find nude photos they’ve taken of themselves (or “selfies”), intended to be private, shared without their knowledge or consent. Victims will now have the law as a recourse as violators could be charged with disorderly conduct.
IDs and Inmates:
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the Golden State has over 2,000,000 undocumented citizens currently living within its borders. Thanks to Assembly Bill 60, which goes into effect on January 1st, many of those workers who can provide proof of identity, evidence of California residence, and pass a driving test can, for the first time, be issued drivers licenses allowing them to legally operate motor vehicles in the state and drive without fear. The law, passed in 2013 and taking effect on the 1st, is expected to help issue more than a million licenses in the state over the next several years.
In another law that impacts identification, state prison inmates who are released after completing their sentence will be issued a California State I.D. card in an effort to assist with job acquisition, healthcare access, and social service enrollment. The goal of this law is to smooth the transition between incarceration and freedom, and help convicts assimilate successfully back into the public.
Another bill that addresses the inmate population in California, AB 1512 allows for the free transfer of prisoners between county jails to help combat issues of overcrowding.
Several of the new laws taking effect January 1st will impact the way assisted-living and senior care facilities operate within the State of California. Bill AB 1523 requires all state-licensed facilities to carry liability insurance for instances of injury or negligence. This bill will help victims recoup compensations from the facility should they be subject to negligence or sub-quality care.
Partly in response to the horrific conditions demonstrated in the aftermath of the Valley Springs Manor incident last year, facilities will face increased fines for incidents of major care violations. Maximum fines are raised to $10,000 for physical abuse and $15,000 for negligence that leads to death – up from a previous maximum of $150. A separate bill limits a facility’s ability to continue to accept new residents if fines are outstanding and violations haven’t been addressed.
Now that we’ve covered some of the major changes coming to California law this year, let’s finish by taking look at a few more.
In an effort to accurately represent a person’s life with consistency and dignity, California death certificates will now allow transgender citizens to identify as the gender of their choosing, rather than what’s represented by their physical anatomy.
For the first time in the State’s history, California will begin regulating the use of groundwater – an essential element for the booming agriculture industry. Because of recent extended drought conditions, the legislature has responded with a new set of regulations that won’t be fully rolled out until the 2020s. You can read more about the law by clicking here.
Bill AB 1147 requires certification by the California Massage Therapy Council for all massage therapists operating within the state. Renewable every two years, a certification requires 500 hours at an approved educational institution and the passing of the CAMTC exam.
Aimed at helping to prevent repeated instances of domestic violence, the new law will allow restraining orders to be issued after a notice and a hearing, shortening and simplifying the process for victims.
Want To See The Full List?
Check out the full list of bills taking effect in California on January 1st. You can browse the language of each individual law here!