New Laws 2015

Hundreds of new laws will go into effect in California throughout the year in 2015, including a long-overdue one that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license starting Friday.

DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.
AB 60, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in Oct. 2013, required the Department of Motor Vehicle to begin issuing the driver’s licenses by Jan. 1, 2015.

In order to apply for a license, undocumented immigrants must show proof of California residency, but they do not need to provide a Social Security number, according to the law, which was authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville.

Potential drivers would still need to pass a driving test in order to get a license.

ALLOWS LAW ENFORCEMENT OR FAMILY MEMBERS TO GET A RESTRAINING ORDER that would temporarily bar those deemed dangerous from having a firearm, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The measure was passed in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting and stabbing rampage back in May that claimed the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students and left 13 others wounded.

ANIMAL WELFARE — a landmark proposition concerning animal welfare that was passed by California voters in 2008 goes into effect. It requires eggs laid or sold in the state to come from hens that have enough space to stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs.

Wholesale egg prices could rise as much as 40 percent this year as farmers make the necessary infrastructure changes to comply with the new law, the Times reported.

AN AFFIRMATIVE “YES MEANS YES” standard of sexual consent between college students. To receive state funding, colleges must only consider sex consensual if both parties actively agree to it and are not drunk or passed out, throwing out the old refrain of “no means no” and replacing it with "yes means yes." California becomes the first state in the nation to use this rubric for sexual consent.

“It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others,” the law states. Lack of protest, silence or resistance does not imply consent, according to the measure.

Compliance is necessary for colleges to keep their eligibility for public financial aid funds.

VICTORY FOR 'REVENGE PORN' VICTIMS — Victims of “revenge porn” can seek court orders to have sexually explicit photos posted by others removed from the Internet and to ask for damages. Even selfies are covered. The law against posting sexually explicit photos of someone online as retaliation is extended to photos taken, though not posted, by the victim.

PLASTIC BAG BAN. The state became the first in the country to ban plastic bags when Gov. Brown signed the measure into law last September. At the time, at least 120 local governments in California had already passed ordinances prohibiting the distribution of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores.

ANYONE WHO WORKS IN CALIFORNIA FOR AT LEAST 30 days to paid sick leave will be entitled to sick leave.

TWAIN'S FROG IS OUR STATE AMPHIBIAN — The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), recognized by the federal government as a “threatened” species, becomes the official state amphibian. Mark Twain featured the creature in his story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

California red-legged frog
California red-legged frog

PUT AWAY THAT CONFEDERATE FLAG — State entities are barred from displaying or selling copies of the Confederate flag or objects marked with it, unless the image appears in a book, digital medium or state museum for educational or historical purposes.

NO HOLDING MUG SHOTS HOSTAGE — Internet firms may no longer charge people who have been arrested a fee in exchange for removing their booking photos from a website.

PRIVACY RULES FOR DRONES — Prosecution for invasion of privacy will be permitted when aerial drones are used to photograph or record another person in a private setting.

MY 2 MOMS, MY 2 DADS, MY 2 PARENTS — Same-sex couples are allowed to identify themselves on state birth certificates as “father,” “mother” or the new gender-neutral option of “parent.”

GENDER IDENTITY FOR DEATH CERTIFICATES — Transgender Californians will be able to have the gender they identify with listed on their death certificates.

BREAST-PUMPING STATIONS MANDATED — Large airports in California must provide, behind the security screening and separate from restrooms, a room where women can express breast milk.

BUY IT WITH BITCOIN — Digital currencies including bitcoins will be legal for transactions in California.

PENALTIES EASED FOR 'WILLFUL' DEFIANCE — Schools can no longer expel students who “willfully defy” teachers or administrators at any grade level and cannot suspend students for that misbehavior through third grade.

BAN ON FORCED STERILIZATION OF INMATES — State prisons may not force or coerce inmates to be sterilized unless the inmate's life is in danger.

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM — State education officials must consider incorporating lessons about the Armenian genocide and other mass killings, such as those in Rwanda and Darfur, into curriculum standards that will be updated in 2015. Lessons about genocide should include oral testimony from survivors, rescuers and witnesses.

GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT. A sweeping set of groundwater regulations that requires local water agencies to manage how much water is drawn from wells, making California the last Western state to end “pump-as-you-please” rules during a severe drought.

SEX ABUSE RIGHTS — Children who claim they’re victims of a sex crime have until their 40th birthday to file charges, up from their 28th birthday. (Applies only to crimes committed on or after January 1, 2015.)

MASSAGE PARLOR OVERSIGHT — Local governments get greater oversight of massage parlors, which have been used as a front for sex trafficking.

GUN OWNER WELFARE CHECK — Requires law enforcement agencies to encourage their officers to consult with gun ownership records when conducting welfare checks — something agents didn’t do before Isla Vista shooter Elliott Rodger killed six people in May.

FIRING BAD TEACHERS — In 2015, a new state law will streamline the discipline and appeals process by expediting and prioritizing cases of serious misconduct, those involving sexual abuse, child abuse and certain drug offenses.

TAKING THE INITIATIVE. California’s initiative process has long been criticized as flawed, and in 2015 it will see some key changes. If a proposal gets 25 percent of signatures needed to reach the ballot, legislators will hold a hearing on the issue’s merits. Backers of an initiative will have the option of withdrawing it, if they are satisfied with a legislative solution. Today, measures invariably land on the ballot if they have enough signatures.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. This will also be the first year taxpayers have to indicate if they carried health insurance. The Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” could require some individuals to pay a tax penalty if they did not. Some families will pay $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, capped at $285 for families. Others will pay a percentage of their income. Visit healthcare.gov for detailed federal tax instructions.

LABOR CONTRACTORS. Large parent companies can face legal liability if their subcontractors fail to pay wages or provide workers' compensation for injuries on the job.

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