It’s a new year, so take the time to learn about the new laws that help protect and expand rights of Californians.
Background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers: Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will have to conduct more expansive background checks. Companies are now prohibited from hiring drivers with convictions for violent crimes, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, domestic violence, or sex offenses. Companies found to violate the law can be fined up to $5,000 per driver.
Sex trafficking victims: Minors working as prostitutes will be treated as victims, not criminals, under a package of new criminal justice laws, including Senate Bill 1322.
Rape: SB 813 eliminates the statute of limitation for rape cases, allow future rape victims to file cases no matter how many years have passed since the crime occurred. The law was inspired by the Bill Cosby sexual assault case.
Date rape: You can be prosecuted for a felony if you possess date rape drugs with the intent to commit sexual assault, under SB 1182. Another measure, AB 2888 mandates a prison term for sexually assaulting an unconscious person.
Homeless students: AB 1995 requires community colleges with shower facilities to make them available for homeless students to use. Another measure, AB 1747, requires public and private colleges with food service to apply for participation in a state-funded program that provides meals for the homeless, in an effort to help homeless students who don’t have access to kitchens.
Ballot selfies: AB 1494 allows voters to take photos of completed ballots and post them online.
Felons voting: Low-level offenders serving felony sentences outside of prison will retain the right to vote, under AB 2466.
Equal pay for women: Your employer can’t pay a woman less than a man due to her prior salary, thanks to AB 1676.
Minimum wage: The minimum wage rises to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more workers starting January 1. By 2022, it will reach $15 an hour.
Assault weapons: Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135 expand California’s assault weapons ban to crack down on a quick-reloading device called a “bullet button.” The new laws ban sale of semi-automatic, center fire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that don’t have a fixed magazine and which also have at least one of certain other features. The ban includes the AR 15. If you have a gun with these features purchased before January 1, 2017, you can keep it but must register it with the California Department of Justice.
Lending firearms: Loaning your gun to someone other than a family member is now a crime, unless you’re a hunting guide, under Assembly Bill 1141.
Homeowner survivor bill of rights: AB 1150 protects surviving family members from wrongful foreclosure after a homeowner dies. The new law requires mortgage servicers to communicate with surviving homeowners (such as spouses, domestic partners, children or other heirs) on the process of assuming the mortgage, and enables surviving homeowners to sue lenders and servicers that fail to comply with the new law.
Experimental treatments: AB 1668, the “right to try” bill, allows drug makers to allow access by dying patients to drugs not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients must have exhausted other options including clinical trials and must have approval from two doctors.
Drugged foster kids: After a media report exposed the over-prescribing of psychiatric drugs for foster youths, SB 1174 puts doctors who recklessly prescribe such medications for foster children at risk of losing their medical licenses. SB 1291 also improves tracking of mental health services for foster kids.
Lane splitting: Motorcyclists can now legally weave between vehicles stuck in traffic; AB 51 authorizes the California Highway Patrol to establish education guidelines on the practice known as “lane splitting.”
Limits on hands-free phones: Motorists with phones mounted to the dash can only make a single swipe or tap, enabling drivers to use GPS navigation, while continuing restrictions on distracted driving under AB 1785. The bill also makes clear that while texting is already illegal, you can’t use smart phones for other distracting activities such as surfing the net or mapping out your route while driving.
Kids in car seats: Children under age two must be secured in rear-facing child safety seats, unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are at least 40 inches tall. Also, kids must ride in the back seat until they reach age eight.
Head injury prevention: AB 2007 imposes stricter protections for school athletes to also include youth sports organizations. Coaches must undergo training and keep any young athlete who may have suffered a head injury sidelined for the rest of the day and have them cleared by a health care provider before returning to play.
Snip and sip: Beauty parlors and barber shops can now serve up to 6 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer to customers, provided it’s free; selling is prohibited under AB 1332.
Ban on powdered alcohol: Powdered alcohol has come under fire, as posing a serious health risk. Sales are now prohibited statewide by AB 1554. Another law, SB 819, goes farther, requiring suspension or revocation of licenses for any businesses making, distributing or selling powdered alcohol.
Home-brewed beer: AB 2172 allows members of home brewers’ clubs to bring home brews to meetings or competitions held at ABC licensed bars, restaurants, brew pubs or small beer manufacturing locations.
Happy New Year. Be safe and please don’t get arrested!
Source: East County Magazine
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