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What You Need to Know about California’s New Laws

What You Need to Know about California’s New Laws
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Rishika Kenkre
Staff Writer

With a new year comes new laws. Some of the legislation passed during 2016 is now in effect as of last week, impacting Californians in terms of their work, crime, driving habits, and healthcare.

Workers benefit in terms of minimum wage, salary, and overtime. Per SB 3, passed a few years ago, state law raised the  minimum wage for workers with more than 26 employees from $10 to $10.50 per hour. Meanwhile, AB 1676 adds prior salary as a reason that women can not be paid less than men to close the gender-based wage gap.

AB 1066 requires employers to give farm workers at least one day off each week. This law specifically says that “every person employed in any occupation of labor is entitled to one day’s rest and no employer shall cause her employee to work more than 6 days in 7.”

The “no employer shall cause” clause allows farm workers to earn overtime pay.  

AB 1843 protects juveniles who committed nonviolent offenses and stained their records. They will not be required to communicate to prospective employers about previous criminal offenses. It gives an opportunity to those seeking to break potential cycles of incarceration by obtaining a job.

AB 2888 forces people found guilty of sexual assault to serve time. This piece of legislation was brought to light in the prolific Stanford rape case, where student Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman, yet only served three months in jail for his crime. As a result, California now broadly defines rape as all “forms of nonconsensual sexual assault.”

In addition, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill taking away the statute of limitations on rape and other sexual offenses. SB 1322 eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for rape cases, meaning that if a rape crime happens after Dec. 31, 2016, the victim can report it any point in the future and see it prosecuted. The previous law limited prosecution to within 10 years. County prosecutors can also now charge people caught with the most common date rape drugs and who have also demonstrated intent to commit sexual assault with felonies.

AB 797 protects bystanders who break into a parked car to rescue an animal that is at risk of overheating. There have been cases of which bystanders have wanted to break open the car window to rescue the animal, but did not do so at the fear of being arrested. This protects the bystanders that want to take action and get the animal out of those conditions. Previously, some UCSB students had posted on the popular Free & For Sale Facebook group about dogs being left in cars.

AB 1995 requires community colleges to offer shower access to homeless students. Assemblyman Das Williams attended Santa Barbara City College while being homeless and sees the value in attending classes clean. This law seeks to contribute to increasing rates of completion of California’s community colleges.

AB 1785 prohibits drivers from using a handheld phone unless it is mounted to the dashboard and activated with a finger tap or swipe. It aims to prevent drivers from being distracted by their phones, allowing them to be more cautious and aware while driving. For the first offense, the person is forced to pay a fine of $20 and then $50 for each offense after. Some fear the law may be ineffective, similar to California’s ban on texting while driving.

Local politician Katcho Achadjian authored AB 2687, which will prohibit popular rideshare services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies, or have a recent DUI conviction. These companies would face up to $5,000 in fines for violating this law.

AB 1386 allows epinephrine auto-injectors, known as EpiPens, to be stocked in businesses and organizations when they were previously only provided to schools K through 12 and individuals. Some are wary of the bill, given that Mylan, EpiPens’ manufacturer, supported the legislation while raising the price of Epipens to $600 for a two-pack.

Gun control laws were also on the table in 2016. Many local politicians and activists are concerned with stringent regulation due to the 2014 Isla Vista tragedy and shootings across America.

Rifles with bullet buttons, which allow users to quickly reload high-capacity magazines, are at the center of gun control legislation with SB 880. Californians are no longer allowed to purchase these rifles in state. Current owners of guns like the AR-15 will be forced to register with the state justice department by the end of the year.

The rifle can only be used by the owner or owner’s family member. Law enforcement and concealed carry weapons must be locked in parked cars.

Lawmakers will also enforce Prop 63 in July 2017, which bans high-capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds).

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