State laws Californians can look forward to starting January 1st:
- AB 1884: Plastic straws
Plastic straws are going the way of plastic bags. Dine-in restaurants in the state will be prohibited from giving out single-use plastic straws unless they are requested by a customer. Businesses that don’t comply will be fined $25 a day and up to $300 a year.
- SB 1192: Children’s meals
Restaurants with children’s meals can no longer offer sugary drinks, such as juice and soda, as the primary choice in their menus. The default option will be milk, water or flavored water with no added sweeteners. Kids can still order sugary drinks if wanted.
- SB 946: Street food vendors
Street vendors will have more freedom to sell food. Cities and counties will not be able to ban sidewalk vendors but they can set up a licensing system to regulate them. Vendors who violate local laws can only be punished with a fine or citation, and cannot face a criminal charge
- SB 1164: Craft distillers
Craft distillers will be able to operate more like wineries. Starting in 2019, small-batch craft distilleries can sell whiskey, vodka, and other spirits directly to customers. Right now, consumers must first take a tour or sign up for a tasting to buy alcohol.
- SB 1138: Vegetarian meals
There will be more meal options for people in hospitals. Healthcare facilities will now have to offer plant-based meals to patients. Prisons will also be included in the new meal requirement.
- AB 626: Home food businesses
Anyone who can cook can start a business under this new law. It allows people to sell food they make in their home kitchens to the public. They can also prepare dinners in their homes to paying guests. The home kitchens must undergo food safety inspections. The food must be sold directly to consumers, and cannot be part of a delivery service.
- Minimum Wage:
The state minimum wage gets another boost to $11 an hour for people working at companies with 25 or fewer employees, and to $12 an hour for those working at companies with 26 or more employees.
- AB 1976: Breast milk
Employers must provide an area other than a bathroom for new mothers to express breast milk. The area must be private and within close proximity to the employee’s workspace.
- SB 1252: Work personnel file
Employees wanting a look at their employment records will be able to do more than just see them at their human resources office. They will be able to request a personal copy of their employment file.
- SB 826: Women on board of directors
Publicly-traded companies are being put on notice. They must have at least one woman in their board of directors by the end of 2019 and two or more women in their board of directors by 2021.
- AB 2274: Divorce and pets
Judges will be able to decide who gets custody of a family pet during a divorce. The judge will consider factors like who takes care or feeds the pet.
- AB 485: Pet stores
Pet stores will be prohibited from selling live animals like dogs, cats or rabbits that come from breeders. The animals must be obtained from an animal shelter and the store must post the name of the agency where it got the animal.
- AB 2989: Electric scooters
- Adults 18 or older will be allowed to ride electric scooters without a helmet. The new law also increases the speed limit for scooters from 25 to 35 mph. It would still be illegal to ride a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.
- AB 3077: Helmet use by minors
On the flip side, minors under 18 who are caught riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates without a helmet will get a citation. Violators can take a safety course to clear the ticket, and show they have a helmet within 120 days of the citation to avoid paying a fine.
- AB 1755: Bicycling crashes
Bicyclists could face felony hit-and-run charges if they leave the scene of an accident where someone was injured or died.
- SB 1014: Ride-hailing vehicles
Your Uber ride will have to be a cleaner one. Ride-hailing companies will have to meet higher emission standards. Companies like Uber and Lyft will have to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on its platform and do more to encourage passengers to pool their rides.
- AB 2886: Ride-hailing drivers
Ride-hailing apps will be required to provide passengers with the driver’s name, picture, the image of the vehicle and license plate number.
- AB 516: License plates
Auto dealers will now be required to place a temporary license plate on newly purchased vehicles. It is estimated the state loses out on collecting $19 million a year on tolls from recently purchased vehicles that don’t have a license plate.
- SB 1046: DUI offenders
Repeat and first-time DUI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device to prevent a person who has been drinking alcohol from driving a vehicle. The device must be installed for 12 to 48 months to restore driving privileges, but the driver will no longer face restrictions to where they can drive.
- AB 2685: Habitual truants
Juvenile court judges will no longer have the ability to suspend the driver’s license of a minor who is a habitual truant.
- HOV lane decals
Green and white decals that allow low-emission vehicles to use HOV lanes will expire. Vehicles issued green or white decals after January 1, 2017, must apply for a red decal. The DMV will issue purple decals in 2019
- AB 2504: Police officer LGBTQ training
Police officers and dispatchers must undergo special training to better understand the LGBTQ community. The training will teach officers the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, and how to create an inclusive work environment in police departments.
- SB 1421: Police officer records
The veil is being lifted from police officer records. This new law allows inspection of an officer’s record during investigations of police shootings, use of force, sexual misconduct, dishonesty or misconduct by an officer.
- SB 1391: Teens in prison
Teens under 16 will no longer go to adult prisons. They would be incarcerated in juvenile facilities even if they commit a serious offense.
- AB 2020: Cannabis events
California is loosening its rules on where people can smoke cannabis. Festivals, museums, nightclubs, and other venues will be able to host special events where people can purchase and consume cannabis. Currently, only county fairgrounds are allowed to host these special events.
- AB 2215: Pets & Cannabis
Veterinarians will be allowed to discuss the use of cannabis with their clients, but vets will not be allowed to administer cannabis to animals.
- SB 179: Gender of driver’s license
A person applying for a driver’s license or an identification card can choose a gender category of male, female or non-binary. Anyone wishing to change their gender can make an appointment after January 2, 2019.
- SB 822: Net neutrality
Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T cannot block, slow down or charge to use these websites. The new law guarantees equal access to streaming services and websites that require higher bandwidths and prohibits ISPs from exempting their own services from data caps. This is all great for consumers, but it is on hold for now. California has agreed not to enforce the law until a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s decision to reverse Obama era net neutrality rules is resolved in federal court.
- SB 100: Green energy
Under this new law, public utilities must implement a plan to incorporate renewable energy resources. The goal is to generate 60 percent of the state’s electricity from sources like wind and solar by 2030, and 100 percent from climate-friendly resources by 2045. (SB 100)
- AB 1775 & SB 834: Offshore oil production
This is California’s pushback on the Trump administration’s decision to lift a ban on new oil drilling off the coast. The law prohibits the California State Lands Commission from approving or renewing leases for the construction of pipelines and docks that could be used to increase the production of oil and natural gas in federal waters.
- AB 1974: High school diplomas
Public schools can’t withhold high school diplomas for students with past-due bus fares, overdue library books or unpaid uniforms.
- AB 3922: Deported students
Retroactively grants high school diplomas to seniors who have been deported.
- AB 216: Mail-in ballots
Election departments must now include a return envelope with prepaid postage for vote-by-mail ballots.
- SB 568: Presidential primary
Moves up California’s 2020 primary to the first Tuesday in March to have more influence in the presidential primaries.
- SB 1100: Firearm sales to minors
The minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun in California increases from 18 to 21 years. Anyone under 21 wanting to buy a rifle or shotgun must do so before January 20, 2019 and pick up the firearm before the law is implemented on February 1.
- AB 2103: Concealed weapons
Consumers wanting a license to carry a concealed weapon in public must undergo 8 hours of firearms training.
- AB 1525: Firearms warning labels
Firearms will come with warning labels that state, “Firearms must be handled responsibly and securely stored to prevent access by children and unauthorized users.” The warnings will also be posted at the gun store.