With a new year, comes new laws.

Here is a look at some of the new laws that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Salary history

In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill 2282, which will no longer allow employers to rely on salary history to determine the potential hire’s pay.

The California Employment Lawyers Association said that women frequently begin their careers with lower salaries than men and then when salary history is used, it puts women at a disadvantage throughout their working lives. Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) said in the author comments of the bill’s analysis that using prior salary to justify paying women a lower wage continues the cycle of unequal pay.

Breastfeeding and pumping

Assemblywoman Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara), vice chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, wrote AB-1976 and described the amendment to the existing labor code as a small change that provides additional support to working mothers. 

Previously, the law required an employer to allow for time to accommodate an employee who needs to express breast milk and a place to do so that wasn't a toilet stall. In order to comply with the new law, employers would need to provide a private, enclosed space solely for lactation while in use by the woman expressing milk.

Curbing childhood obesity

Soda or juice will no longer be a main option for children beginning in 2019.

Those heading out to grab some fast food or for a night out with the family also won’t see plastic straws with their drink orders unless they ask for them specifically. Both are changes comply with Senate Bill 1192 and AB-1884, respectively.

Body cam footage

In 2018, California legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed, three laws with the hope of promoting trust, protection of youth and transparency.

  1. AB-748 gives police a 45 day period after any incident to have prepared body cam footage, and the audio associated with the incident, to be released to the public. Police also have the discretion to decide if releasing the footage will hurt the investigation and withhold the footage.
  2. SB-1421 allows for the public to access reports, investigations, and findings of officer-involved shootings, incidents involving the use of a taser or taser-like weapon and any other incidents involving officers resulting in “serious bodily injury” or death of another person.
  3. AB-1584 no longer allows police officers to collect DNA from minors without parents consent.

Education laws

In 2019, a slew of education laws will go into affect, many of which will probably impact you or your school-aged children.

  1. AB-2291 will require schools to adopt, on or before Dec. 31, 2019, procedures for preventing acts of bullying, including cyberbullying.
  2. SB-830 requires the California Department of Education to make a list of resources and instructional materials on media literacy available on its website. This list will include professional development programs for teachers. 
  3. AB-1974 will prevent students and former students from being billed for a debt by a public school or school district.

Helmet safety

Two new bills, AB-2989 and AB-3077, are changing helmet laws for electric scooter riders and bikers.

  1. AB-2989 gives adults the freedom to choose whether or not they want to wear a helmet when riding an electric scooter. Under the new law, helmets would only be required for motorized scooter riders who are under the age of 18.
  2. AB-3077 will allow a person under the age of 18 to correct a violation of not wearing a properly fitted and fastened helmet if the parent or guardian can deliver specific proof to the agency that issued the ticket that the minor has a helmet and have attended a bike safety course. Following these steps, no record will be brought to the court and the fee will be waived.

Voting laws

Three major voting bills will become law in California, changing the way voters use vote by mail ballots.

AB-216 and AB-306 will expand voting rights in the state and clarify certain aspects of vote by mail ballots to make voting easier for Californians. Assembly Bill 2218, which increases transparency of vote by mail ballots.

Statute of limitations

AB-1619 was passed unanimously by the California State Assembly on Sep. 29, 2018. This bill effectively extends the statute of limitations for sexual assault from two years to 10 years, allowing more survivors of sexual violence to come forward and file a civil action against their abusers.

The change from two years to 10 years is significant, since survivors of sexual assault and harassment often have difficulty coming forward to report the crime for a variety of reasons.

Tighter gun laws

Anyone convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors will be barred for life from possessing a firearm, while those under age 21 will be banned from purchasing a rifle or shotgun unless they are members of law enforcement or the military or have a hunting license.

Wildfires

Utilities may bill customers for future legal damages and for settlements from the deadly 2017 wildfires that caused more than $10 billion in insured losses, even if the companies' mismanagement caused the blazes.

The measure is among more than two dozen wildfire-related laws.

Others make it easier to log trees, build firebreaks and conduct controlled burns of vegetation that would fuel wildfires; require investor-owned utilities to upgrade equipment so it's less likely to cause fires; safeguard residents' insurance coverage following disasters; and improve emergency notifications.

Going green

California's utilities must generate 60 percent of their energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2030, which is 10 percent higher than a previous mandate. Lawmakers set a goal of phasing out electricity from fossil fuels by 2045.

Gender options at the DMV

Starting in 2019, you'll see a third option for gender on the California driver's license application. Californians who don't identify as either male or female can now idenitify as "nonbinary" gender category, designated by the letter "X."

Pet store purchases

Starting in 2019, pet stores can only sell pets who have been rescued from a shelter, humane society or rescue group. 

According to ABC News, the new law also says the store must post the name of the agency where it got the animal. The change comes from the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, which was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017.

If a pet store can't provide the appropriate paperwork, it'll face a fine of $500 per animal.

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