Here’s a review of some of the major items that go into effect on Jan. 1.


One of 2015’s fiercest fights was over SB 277, which was introduced in the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland and requires full vaccination for most children to enroll in school. Schools will begin vetting students to ensure they have their shots in July, before the 2016-2017 school year begins.

Search warrants

Arguing our privacy laws lag behind our technology, lawmakers passed SB 178 to require search warrants before law enforcement can obtain your emails, text messages, Internet search history and other digital data.

Ballot fees

Thinking of filing a ballot initiative? You’ll need more cash. AB 1100 hikes the cost of submitting a proposal from $200 to $2,000, which supporters called a needed screen to discourage frivolous or potentially unconstitutional proposals.

Grocery jobs

When grocery stores get new owners, AB 359 requires the stores to retain employees for at least 90 days and consider keeping them on after that period ends. While workers can still be dismissed in that window for performance-related reasons, the labor-backed bill seeks to protect workers from losing their jobs to buyouts or mergers.

Reproductive services

AB 775 requires any licensed facility offering pregnancy-related services to post a sign advertising the availability of public family planning programs, including abortions. It is aimed at so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which pro-abortion rights critics assail for pressuring women into carrying their pregnancies to term.


Cheerleaders who root on professional athletes will be treated as employees under California law, with the accompanying wage and hour protections, under AB 202. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who carried the bill, was a Stanford cheerleader.


High school seniors will no longer need to take a long-standing exit exam to graduate, thanks to SB 172. The bill lifts the requirement through the 2017-2018 school year and also applies retroactively to 2004, meaning students who have completed all the other graduation requirements since then can apply for diplomas.

Guns on campus

Concealed firearms are barred from college campuses and K-12 school grounds under SB 707, which the California College and University Police Chiefs Association sponsored as a public safety corrective.

Equal pay

SB 358 seeks to close the stubborn gap between men and women’s wages by saying they must be paid the same for “substantially similar work,” an upgrade over the current standard, and allowing women to talk about their own pay and inquire about the pay of others without facing discipline. While California already requires equal pay for equal work, women still consistently make less.

Sex ed

Student participation in sexual education courses is currently voluntary. AB 329 would make the courses mandatory unless parents specifically seek an opt-out and would update curricula to include, for example, more information about HIV and the spectrum of gender identity.

Yes means yes

As long as their school districts require health classes to graduate, SB 695 will ensure high school students learn about the “yes means yes” standard of consent to sexual acts. In other words, students will learn they should be getting explicit approval from partners.

Toy guns

Realistic-looking airsoft guns will need to have more features that distinguish them as toys, like a fluorescent trigger guards, thanks to SB 199. Advocates said it would help law enforcement avoid tragic mistakes when making split-second decisions, pointing to the 2013 case of a Santa Rosa boy fatally shot by Sonoma County deputies who mistook his toy gun for the real thing.

Gun restraining orders

Passed last year in response to a troubled young man shooting and killing multiple people in Isla Vista, AB 1014 allows family members to obtain a restraining order temporarily barring gun ownership for a relative they believe to be at risk of committing an act of violence.

Rape kits

AB 1517 prods law enforcement to more quickly process so-called “rape kits,” the forensic evidence collected from sexual assault crime scenes. While the bill doesn’t mandate anything, it encourages law enforcement agencies to send evidence to crime labs sooner and urges crime labs to analyze the data and upload it into a DNA database in a shorter time frame.

Brew bikes

People rolling around midtown Sacramento on beer bikes could get a little tipsier under SB 550. The measure allows alcohol to be consumed on board the multi-person vehicles, which currently travel between different bars but don’t allow imbibing in between, as long as the city authorizes it. The city of Sacramento is working on updating its pedicab ordinance to reflect the new law.

Charity raffles

Professional sports fans could bring home big prizes thanks to SB 549, which authorizes in-game charity raffles allowing the winner to take home 50 percent of ticket sales. That’s a change from the current system, which permits charity raffles only if 90 percent of the proceeds go to the cause.

Pedestrian costs

AB 40 ensures pedestrians and cyclists won’t have to pay tolls on Bay Area bridges like the Golden Gate. While no such tolls yet exist, lawmakers were responding to a proposal to raise money with a Golden Gate Bridge fee.

Back wages

If an employee doesn’t get paid what they are owed, SB 588 allows the California Labor Commissioner to slap a lien on the boss’s property to try and recoup the value of the unpaid wages. This was a slimmed-down version of a prior, unsuccessful bill that was pushed by organized labor but repudiated by business interests – the key difference being that the commissioner, not workers, files the liens.


Another bill whose earlier labor-backed, business-opposed version was softened in the name of compromise, AB 525 modifies the relationships between individual franchise business owners and the larger parent company by changing the rules for when the parent company can terminate or refuse to renew a franchise agreement and how the franchise owner can sell or transfer the store.

Transportation companies

The steady drip of new regulations on companies like Uber and Lyft continued with AB 1422, which requires such businesses to give the California Department of Motor Vehicles access to driver records by participating in the agency’s pull notice program.

Air regulations

After a sweeping climate bill spurred objections from lawmakers about the clout of the unelected California Air Resources Board, AB 1288 offered a concession by creating two new spots on the regulator’s board, to be appointed by the Legislature.