Sacramento lawmakers certainly made a lot of new laws this year, sending the most bills to the governor’s office in more than a decade.
In all, legislators sent 1,217 bills for Gov. Jerry Brown to mull over. He ended up signing 1,016 into law that will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
If my Political Science degree is still working, I believe that for at least the past decade California averages about 900 new laws every year. That means 9,000 laws have hit the statutory books in those 10 years. That’s probably 8,500 too many new laws. What is needed is a new law that mandates before any new law can be signed by the governor, an old law must be repealed, a straight-up one-for-one swap.
Another thing I’ve always said is I never get upset or outraged when politicians are on extended vacations, or off on a taxpayer-funded world-wide tour, AKA boondoggle, or just missing in action because they don’t have the time to tend to their elected responsibilities. It’s well worth whatever amount of tax dollars they’re scooping out of the hog trough because while they’re away from the people’s chambers, they can’t cause much harm, mischief, grief, and other assorted monkey business such as drafting unnecessary, pointless, and in many instances, inane new legislation.
Anyway, here are some of more noteworthy new laws ranging from a PC-generated “Gender X” sexual identity to socially engineered “Beverages For Children.” I’ve compiled these summaries from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, other published reports, and my own renderings.
Here are a few of the changes due to new laws that the California Department of Motor Vehicles may include in your next driver’s license examination.
AB 516, Temporary Paper Plates: Authorized California dealers must place a paper plate with a number and expiration date on every vehicle they sell, whether new or used. The objective is to reduce the number of offenders passing through payment booths and improve road safety.
SB 179, Gender Identity: With this new law, people who apply for a license or identity card will have the option to select their own gender, which includes the categories for female, male or non-binary. Those who choose the “No binary” option will receive a card with an “X” gender category.
SB 1046, Breathalyzer on Engine Start (Between Jan. 1, 2019 and 2026), repeat offenders for DUI or those who receive a first DUI offense and have caused injuries, must install a breathalyzer on the engine ignition (IID) for a period of 12 to 48 months. These regulations apply to DUI infractions involving alcohol consumption or the combined use of alcohol and drugs.
AB 1274, Verification of Polluting Emissions: The exemption from smog verification for vehicles that have been purchased new will extend from six to eight years. During the two years of this exemption, the vehicle owner will not have to do the smog check but pay $25. The charge of $20 during the first six years of exemption to verify smog will continue.
AB 2685, Driving Privileges for Minors: Courts will no longer be able to suspend, restrict or delay issuing a minor’s driver’s license for one year for truancy or for being under the guardianship of the state. Suspensions or delays reported to the DMV prior to Jan. 1, 2019 will remain in effect.
AB 2989, Motorized Scooters: People over 18 years old will no longer need to use a bicycle helmet to use a motorized scooter. This law also amends existing law that prohibits a person from using a motorized scooter on a highway that has a speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour, unless it is on a special Class IV bikeway as well as Class II.
AB 1925, Unsafe or Unattached Loads on Vehicles: The DMV must include at least one question on 20 percent of knowledge tests (written exams) on traffic laws about California’s unsecured load code. The purpose is, in part, an effort to verify that applicants understand that abandoning or dumping any animal is a criminal offense.
AB 544, Decals for Low Emission Vehicles: The green and white decals for the circulation of low emission vehicles in collective transport lanes (HOV) will be valid until Jan. 1, 2019. The DMV created a new sticker program to allow certain low-polluting vehicles to travel in HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle for a period of four years. Vehicles that have received a green or white decal between Jan. 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 will be eligible to request a red decal and will give them access to the HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2022. The DMV will also issue light violet color decals in 2019 that will grant access to the HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2023.
AB 2115), Passing Waste Service Vehicles: Driver approaching a waste collection truck with its amber lights flashing must move into an adjacent lane, if possible, and pass at a safe distance. If you can’t change lanes, slow to a safe and reasonable speed. It’s part of an effort to protect sanitation workers.
Employment and Employee Relations
SB 3, Minimum Wage Increase: Workers in companies with 25 or fewer employees will have a salary increase of $10.50 to $11. At companies with more than 25 employees, the increase will be $11 to $12. This law was approved in 2016 and will continue until the minimum wage reaches $15.
AB 1066, Overtime for Agricultural Workers: Under AB 1066, agricultural workers will receive an overtime payment in their salaries. This regulation will slowly increase the wages for extra hours for agricultural employees over a period of four years. Changes begin on Jan. 1, 2019 for employers who hire more than 25 employees.
SB 946, Street Vendors: The law, passed in 2018, protects the activity of street vendors in the state and allows them to sell on the streets. However, under this measure, local authorities will have the power to establish regulations based on aspects of health, safety and public welfare.
AB 2770, Protection Against Lawsuits in Cases of Harassment Complaints: This new law protects victims of sexual harassment and employers from being sued for defamation by the alleged harasser in cases of a complaint of sexual harassment and while the employer conducts your internal investigation.
SB 820, Confidentiality Agreements: This measure prohibits confidentiality agreements in cases of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination that are signed as of Jan. 1, 2019, unless the claimant requests the inclusion of the provision.
SB 1300, Waiver of Legal Claims: This workplace law prohibits employers from forcing new employees or those seeking raises to waive their right to file legal claims. However, employees could still waive those rights as part of an agreement, such as in cases for compensation packages.
AB 1976, Breastfeeding at Work: This legislation requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or place for breastfeeding that is not a bathroom.
Health and the Environment
AB 1884, Straws at the Customer’s Request: California restaurants will only provide straws or plastic straws to customers who request it. Restaurants may receive fines if they do not comply with this legislation.
SB 1192, Beverages for Children: Restaurants in California may only serve water or milk without flavor in children’s meals that combine a food with a drink. Clients can order it if they wish.
AB 626, Home Cooking as a Microenterprise: Allows cities and counties to authorize and regulate the sale of home-made foods.
AB 485, Sale of Pets: Prohibits the sale of breeding dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores and requires that these animals be obtained from animal shelters or rescue groups.
Public Safety and Law Enforcement
AB 2103, Shooting Proficiency: Whether or not to issue concealed weapons permits remains at the discretion of local sheriffs and police chiefs. But as of January, you will need to prove your proficiency in shooting and safe handling of your firearm if you want a license to carry it in public. The training requirement has also been raised to a minimum of eight hours.
AB 748, Police Transparency: Requires that the images of body cameras on police officers and any other audio recording acquired by a police agency be disclosed to the public. This must be done within 45 days after a police shooting or excessive force causes death or injury to a person.
SB 1421, Police Transparency: Allows public access to police records in cases of force, as well as investigations that confirmed the lack of honesty in the work or sexual misconduct.
SB 1391, Juvenile Justice: Requires that juveniles ages 14 and 15 accused of crimes be tried in the juvenile justice system instead of being prosecuted as adults.
SB 1200, Gun Control: Eliminates fees for requesting a Firearms Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) and adds ammunition and bullet drums to the list of items related to firearms that can be confiscated.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)