2019 New Laws

During this past year, 1,016 pieces of legislation were signed into law. Only 201 were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown during his final year in office. Here are the most poignant 10% of these new laws and regulations. 

Cannabis Laws


AB 1793 Cannabis Convictions: Resentencing The California Department of Justice will need to review all marijuana convictions that would be reduced or expunged due to voters approving marijuana for recreational-use in 2016. The deadline is July 1, 2019.
AB 2020 Cannabis: local jurisdiction licensees: temporary event license Gives local lawmakers the power to license venues for temporary cannabis events. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control and law enforcement officers still can revoke a permit or end an event for any unlawful or unpermitted activity at an event.
SB 1127 Pupil health: administration of medicinal cannabis: schoolsites Allows parents or guardians the ability to administer medicinal cannabis to a pupil at school. The bill prohibits that product to be in smoking or vaping form.
SB 350 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 Bans weed products in shapes such as a person, animal, fruit or insect, to avoid appealing to children who might confuse the product with candy.
SB 829 Cannabis: donations. Over the past year several laws were passed pertaining to cannabis. Sen. Scott Weiner introduced Senate Bill 829 allowing cannabis companies to provide free medical cannabis to designated patients that meet certain requirements. The bill includes provisions related to the taxation of medical marijuana that is donated.
SB 65  Vehicles: alcohol and marijuana: penalties  Effective Jan. 1, drivers and passengers will be prohibited from smoking or eating marijuana products while driving in a vehicle.

Criminal Justice


SB 10 Pretrial release or detention: pretrial services. Beginning in October 2019, California will get rid of cash bail for suspects awaiting trial. Instead of putting up money to obtain their release, people charged with a felony will go through a pre-trial risk assessment. If a judge releases them, they would be supervised by a government agency or business contracted to handle that task. People arrested for most misdemeanors would be booked and released without an assessment. However, the revised bill includes an amendment that could allow authorized prosecutors to set indefinite pretrial detention, by circumventing due process.
SB 1391 Juveniles: fitness for juvenile court. California may no longer prosecute 14- and 15-year-olds as adults. Previously, defendants this age could be referred to adult court — and potentially sent to adult prison — if they were charged with a serious offense, like murder or rape.
SB 439 Jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, unless a minor younger than 12 has committed murder or rape

Digital Law


SB 822 Communications: broadband Internet access service Allows California its own state-level net neutrality a law. However, within moments of the signing, the U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the law, arguing it was invalid under both conflicting federal law and the U.S. Constitution. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announcing the DOJ was suing to block SB 822 permanently wrote, “States do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does.”

Election Law


AB 216 Vote by mail ballots: identification envelopes: prepaid postage Election officials must include a return envelope with prepaid postage when delivering vote-by-mail ballots. Local agencies can ask the state to reimburse them for the new costs. Additionally, voters will be allowed to correct a ballot signature that doesn’t match the one on file.
SB 568 Primary elections: election date. Changes the date of the statewide direct primary and the presidential primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March and would continue the requirement that those elections be consolidated.

Employment Law


AB 1066 Agricultural workers: wages, hours, and working conditions Requires overtime pay for farmworkers who work more than 9.5 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week at farms with 26 or more employees.
AB 1654 Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004: construction industry This new law provides that unionized workers in the construction industry are not covered by Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).
AB 168 Employers: salary information. Employers will no longer be able to ask job applicants about their salary history, compensation or benefits. Employers will also be required to disclose pay scales for a job if the applicants ask for them.
AB 1976 Employment: lactation accommodation. Employers already need to provide rooms for mothers to pump breast milk for their babies. This law says those areas cannot be in bathrooms.
AB 2012 School and community college employees: parental leave. provides that an individual employed in a position requiring certification qualifications, a person employed in academia, or a classified employee will receive no less than 50% of his or her regular salary for the 12-workweek period of parental leave.
AB 2282 Salary history information Clarifies the ban on salary history inquiries and the requirement to provide pay scales to applicants. The law will allow employers to inquire into an applicant’s salary expectations for the prospective position. In addition, external applicants will be entitled to a pay scale upon request, but only after completing an initial interview.
AB 2327 Peace officers: misconduct: employment. Provides that peace officers seeking new employment elsewhere must give written permission for the hiring law enforcement agency to view his or her general personnel file and any separate disciplinary file from the existing law enforcement agency.
AB 2610 Employees: meal periods Currently, employers are required to give a 30-minute meal break to any employee who works more than five hours per day. The meal break must start before the end of the fifth hour of work. AB 2010 allows commercial drivers to start their meal break after the sixth hour if they are transporting items from a commercial feed manufacturer to a customer located in a remote rural location and the driver earns one and a half times the state minimum wage for overtime.
AB 3224 Public social services: county employees Requires certain eligibility decisions for specific public benefit programs (including CalWORKS, Medi-Cal, and CalFresh) to be made only by a county merit or civil service employee.
AB 3231 Employment: public works: apprenticeship Authorizes a joint labor-management committee to bring an action against an employer who fails to provide payroll records under the same provision for bringing an action against an employer for failure to pay prevailing wages in connection to a public work.
SB 1014 California Clean Miles Standard and Incentive Program: zero-emission vehicle 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.
SB 1085 Public employees: leaves of absence: exclusive bargaining representative service Mandates that public employers grant employee representatives protected, reasonable leaves of absences to enable employees to serve as stewards or officers of the employee representative or any statewide or national employee organization.
SB 1123 Disability Compensation: Paid Family Leave Expands California Paid Family Leave Act to include time off to participate in active duty for spouses in the military.
SB 1252 Wages: records: inspection and copying 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 1412 Applicants for employment: criminal history. Specifies that employers will be allowed to ask an applicant, or another source, about a particular conviction of the applicant.
SB 2128 School employees: dismissal or suspension: hearings: evidence In a disciplinary hearing for an employee’s dismissal or suspension, SB 2128 allows evidence of specified allegations, including but not limited to allegations relating to behavior or communication of a sexual nature with a pupil, that occurred more than four years in the past.
SB 3 Minimum wage: in-home supportive services: paid sick days Under SB 3 passed in 2016, the minimum wage increases once again this year to $12 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees, and $11 per hour for smaller employers, as California phases in a $15 base hourly wage over seven years. The California minimum wage increased to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017, and will increase each year until reaching $15 per hour in 2022. According to Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the first minimum wage increase AB 10 in 2013, once the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour for all businesses, wages could then be increased each year up to 3.5 percent for inflation.

Environmental Law


AB 1668

Water management planning. SB 606 and AB 1668 collectively require the state to establish new efficiency standards for water use by 2022 and mandate that local agencies devise drought and water-shortage plans. The bills also set indoor residential use at 55 gallons per person per day, incrementally reducing that number after Jan. 1, 2025. Basically, this year, you might want to start getting used to using less water and more water- efficient appliances.
AB 1775 State lands: leasing: oil and gas. AB 1775 and SB 834 ban expanding offshore drilling by the Trump administration, by blocking new pipelines, piers and wharves and related construction in the state’s coastal waters. The bills prohibit the State Lands Commission from issuing new leases for oil-related infrastructure.
SB 100 California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: emissions of greenhouse gases Increases California’s electricity portfolio required to come from renewable energy sources by 2030, to 60 percent from 50 percent. It also requires an electric grid entirely powered by clean energy by 2045. “It was California’s latest ambitious reaction to Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and revive the coal industry,” the Associated Press reported.
SB 1017 Commercial fishing: drift gill net shark and swordfish fishery: permit transition program. Begins the phasing out drift gill-net fishing, which unintentionally snares marine mammals
SB 606 Water management planning. SB 606 and AB 1668 collectively require the state to establish new efficiency standards for water use by 2022 and mandate that local agencies devise drought and water-shortage plans. The bills also set indoor residential use at 55 gallons per person per day, incrementally reducing that number after Jan. 1, 2025. Basically, this year, you might want to start getting used to using less water and more water- efficient appliances.
SB 834 State lands: leasing: oil and gas. AB 1775 and SB 834 ban expanding offshore drilling by the Trump administration, by blocking new pipelines, piers and wharves and related construction in the state’s coastal waters. The bills prohibit the State Lands Commission from issuing new leases for oil-related infrastructure.
SB 901 Wildfires. In September, Brown signed a package of bills in response to the massive wildfires of the last few years. The main bill, SB 901, requires utilities to implement fire prevention plans and upgrade equipment. It also creates incentives for landowners to reduce excess fuel and remove dead trees, and sets aside $1 billion for forest management over the next five years. Controversially, the negotiated deal allows PG&E to pass on to consumers some of the cost it may incur if it's found liable for the 2017 fires. The two- dozen or so fire prevention bills Brown signed include rules making it easier for private landowners to conduct controlled burns, rules requiring garage door openers to have backup batteries in case of electrical outages, and a clarification that insurers must cover losses due to landslides and mudslides if those calamities resulted mainly from a separate, insured catastrophe like fire.

Food Services


AB 1871 Charter schools: free and reduced-price meals Charter schools will be required to provide low-income students with one nutritious meal each school day. Those students must also be offered reduced-price meals. Public schools already have this requirement.
AB 1884 Food facilities: single-use plastic straws. Bans full-service restaurants from automatically giving customers plastic straws. Dine-in restaurants will only be allowed to provide plastic straws at customers’ request. Businesses will receive a warning for their first two violations, then a $25 fine per day for each subsequent violation, up to $300 annually, according to bill language.
AB 626 California Retail Food Code: microenterprise home kitchen operations. Cooks who sell food prepared out of their homes are now legally allowed to sell their items, thanks to the Cottage Food Bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September. The practice had previously been outlawed because of health concerns. Anyone who wants to do so will need to apply for a permit with the city and/or county, and then they'll be able to start selling right away.
SB 1138 Food options: plant-based meals. requires prisons, hospitals and healthcare facilities to offer plant-based meals to prisoners and patients. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.
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 1192 Children's meals. Requires restaurants that advertise kid’s meals to include water or unflavored milk as the default beverage, because according to state Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), “Kids’ meals shouldn’t come with a side order of diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease.” Customers can still order other drink options.
SB 946 Sidewalk vendors. Prohibits local governments from banning street vendors from selling food or other products. Instead, they will be required to set up a licensing system if they want to limit the practice. In addition, violations of local rules can only be punished with citations or fines, not criminal charges.

Gun Law


AB 1525 Firearms warnings. 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 gun stores.
AB 1968 Mental health: firearms. Anyone who has been hospitalized for a mental health issue more than once in a year will be prohibited from ever owning a gun.
AB 2103 Criminal procedure: arraignment pilot program. Requires that anyone wanting to carry a concealed weapon undergo a minimum of eight hours of training on firearm safety, handling and technique. In addition, applicants would need to demonstrate how to safely handle and shoot a firearm and perform a live-fire shooting exercise at a firing range. Local sheriffs and police chiefs would still issue concealed weapons permits.
AB 3 Firearms: age restrictions. Raises the legal age to 21 to purchase a rifle or shotgun unless they are members of law enforcement, in the military, or already have a hunting license.
AB 3129 Firearms: prohibited persons. Creates a lifetime ban on gun ownership for anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. It only applies to convictions after Jan. 1, 2019 and is not retroactive.
AB 424 Possession of a firearm in a school zone. Bans guns on campuses and eliminates the policy allowing school administrators the authority to decide whether campus employees with concealed carry permits can carry their personal firearms to school.
PROP 63 Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban (2016) Passed by voters in 2016, beginning July 1, 2019, ammunition dealers will be required to check with the Department of Justice at the time of purchase that individuals seeking to buy ammunition are not prohibited persons.
SB 1100 Firearms: transfers. Raises the age to buy all legal firearms from 18 to 21. Californians were already barred from buying handguns until age 21. Military members, law enforcement and those with hunting licenses are exempt.
SB 1200 Firearms: gun violence restraining orders. Allows family members to seek a court order to disarm a relative they fear is dangerous. The bill would include gun parts and components as items to be surrendered.
SB 1346 Firearms: multiburst trigger activators. Bans the possession and sales of “Bump stocks".

Health Care Law


AB 2499 Health care coverage: medical loss ratios. Requires health plans to spend at least 80 percent of each premium dollar on health care.
SB 1448 Healing arts licensees: probation status: disclosure. Starting July 1, doctors will have to inform patients if they are on probation before they can offer treatment. The law applies to physicians, surgeons, podiatrists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and osteopathic and naturopathic doctors.
SB 1375 Health insurance: small employer groups. Prevents employers from joining forces to form their own “association health plans” that are exempt from many of the coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act.
SB 910 Short-term limited duration health insurance. Prohibits insurers from offering short-term health plans in the state. It blocks a recent federal rule that would reintroduce low-cost, bare-bones health insurance to the marketplace, allowing companies to offer temporary plans that may cap benefits, exclude prescription drugs and services like mental health care, and be denied to patients with pre-existing conditions.

Immigration Law 


AB 291 Housing: immigration. Prohibits landlords from reporting undocumented renters. A landlord could face civil penalties if he or she attempts to influence a tenant to vacate the dwelling unit or attempts to recover possession of the dwelling unit based on the individual’s immigration status.
SB 54 Law enforcement: sharing data. SB 54, called the “California Values Act,” already restricts the ability of state and local police in California to cooperate with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. Effective Jan. 1, law enforcement officers won’t be allowed even to ask about someone’s immigration status or hold them for ICE agents, unless that person has been convicted of a crime.

Minor Rights


AB 1248 Pupils: wearing of traditional tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance as an adornment at school graduation ceremonies. Affirms the right to wear religious and cultural adornments, such as tribal feathers and leis, during graduation ceremonies.
AB 1974 Pupils: collection of debt. Public schools can't withhold high school diplomas for students with past-due bus fares, overdue library books or unpaid uniforms.
AB 2388 Employment: minors. Existing law requires written consent of the Labor Commissioner for a minor under 16 years of age to take part in certain types of employment in the entertainment industry. AB 2388 makes an exemption to the written consent requirement for minors who appear in a radio or television broadcasting or “digital” exhibitions if (1) the minor does not receive compensation, (2) the exhibition is limited to a single appearance lasting no more than one hour, and (3) no admission fee is charged.
AB 2685 Driving privilege: minors. Juvenile court judges will no longer have the ability to suspend the driver's license of a minor who is a habitual truant.
AB 3922 Retroactive grant of high school diplomas: departed and deported pupils. Retroactively grants high school diplomas to seniors who have been deported.
SB 1428 Minors: employment: work permits. Prohibits a public or charter school from denying a work permit for a minor to work on the basis of the student’s grades or attendance in the limited circumstance when the minor would work for any government-administered employment and training program that would occur during the student’s summer vacation.

LGBT Rights


AB 2504 Peace officer training: sexual orientation and gender identity. 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 179 Gender identity: female, male, or nonbinary. Gender identity changes on CA driver’s licenses: California’s SB 179 now allows transgender people to select “nonbinary” as an option on their California drivers license if they do not identify as either male or female.
SB 219 Long-term care facilities: rights of residents. the “LGBT Senior Bill of Rights” in October 2017, making it a crime to “misgender” LGBT nursing home residents. According to the law, people who “willfully and repeatedly” misgender a transgender resident’s preferred name or pronouns could spend up to a year in county jail and face a $1,000 fine. The new law also requires nursing homes and long-term care facilities to comply with California’s transgender bathroom law, and allow residents to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of gender.

Other Laws


AB 1782 Surfing. Surfing is California’s new official sport.
AB 19 Community colleges: California College Promise Establishes free college, waiving the fee for first-time students who enroll full time in California community colleges.

Pet Law


AB 2215 Veterinarians: cannabis: animals. Veterinarians will be allowed to discuss the use of cannabis with their clients, but vets will not be allowed to administer cannabis to animals.
AB 2274 Division of community property: pet animals. Under AB 2274, divorce and custody battles over pets have a new law. Divorce court judges will now be able to decide who gets custody of a family pet during a divorce, based on who takes the most care of the pet or feeds the pet.
AB 485 Pet store operators: Dogs, cats, and rabbits Pet stores are banned from selling a dog, cat or rabbit. They can now only be sourced from animal shelters. Any businesses violating this new law face a $500 fine.
SB 1305 Emergency medical services providers: dogs and cats. First responders who encounter a distressed dog or cat can provide emergency medical assistance, which was previously allowed only by licensed veterinarians.

Police Transparency


AB 748 Peace officers: video and audio recordings: disclosure. Requires the release of recordings from body-worn cameras within 45 days of an incident, including if officers fired shots or if a use-of-force causes death or great bodily harm. Law goes into effect July 1, 2019.
SB 1421 Peace officers: release of records. Will make investigations of use-of-force, sexual assault and lying while on duty open to the public. Currently, those investigation records are kept confidential.

Sexual Harassment


AB 2770 Privileged Communications: Communications by Former Employer: Sexual Harassment Current law allows an employer to inform a prospective employer if they would rehire the employee. Such communication is deemed privileged and protected from defamation lawsuits. AB 2770 allows the previous employer to also tell the prospective employer if the applicant received a credible accusation of sexual harassment. The previous employer can also say if they did not re-hire the employee due to a sexual harassment complaint.
AB 3109 Contracts: Waiver of Right of Petition or Free Speech The law invalidates any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that waives a person’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.
AB 3118 Sexual assault: investigations. Require the state to complete an audit of untested rape kits
SB 1300 Unlawful employment practices: discrimination and harassment Expands liability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA. It lowers the burden of proof to establish harassment and provides stricter guidance on what is or isn’t unlawful harassment. It also expands protections from harassment by contractors, rather than just sexual harassment. Defendants can’t be awarded attorney’s costs unless the action was frivolous. It prohibits release of claims under FEHA in exchange for a raise, a bonus or as a condition of employment or continued employment.
SB 1343 Employers: sexual harassment training: requirements Requires employers with five or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to nonsupervisory employees by Jan. 1, 2020. Training should take place every two years after that. Employers also need to make the training available in multiple languages.
SB 224 Personal rights: civil liability and enforcement. Expands employee harassment protections to include those who are not only employers but who could help establish a business, service or professional relationship. This could include doctors, lawyers, landlords, elected officials and more.
SB 820 Settlement Agreement: Confidentiality This law prevents non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements in civil or administrative complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment and workplace harassment. This will prohibit courts from entering orders that restrict the disclosure of information in harassment cases.
SB 826 Corporations: Boards of Directors Requires pubic California companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019. That requirement goes up to two if the company has five directors by 2021 or to three if the company has six or more directors. Companies found violating the law will face stiff fines: $100,000 for a first violation, $300,000 for a second or subsequent violation, and $100,000 fine for failure to timely file board member information with the Secretary of State.
SB 970 Employment: human trafficking awareness. Requires 20 minutes of training regarding human trafficking awareness for hotel employees who are likely to meet victims of human trafficking. This would include employees in reception areas and housekeeping.

Transportation Laws


AB 1274 Smog check: exemption. Raises the vehicle age requirement to get a smog check from 6 years old to 8 years old, but requires a $25 smog abatement fee for 7- and 8-year-old vehicles. The existing $12 fee for vehicles 6 years old and under remains in place.
AB 1755 Bicycle operation Hit-and-run laws will be expanded to include bicyclists on bike paths. That means, if a bicyclist hits a person, resulting in a death or injury, the bicyclist must stay at the scene. The bicyclist can be held accountable, CHP said.
AB 1824 State government. Drivers in a vehicle or motorcycle with an excessively loud exhaust will be fined. Previously, they would have been cited with a “fix-it” ticket.
AB 2115 Vehicles: passing and overtaking: waste service vehicles. Drivers must move to an adjacent lane or slow down when attempting to pass a waste collection truck with its amber lights flashing. The law aims to create a safety margin for sanitation workers.
AB 2986 Transportation network companies: disclosure of participating driver information. Ride-hailing apps will be required to provide passengers with the driver's name, picture, image of the vehicle and license plate number.
AB 2989 Motorized scooter: use of helmet: maximum speed. Helmets are no longer required for motorized scooter riders over 18 or older. Motorized scooters are also allowed on Class IV and Class II bike paths. It is still illegal to ride a motorized scooter on a sidewalk. The law also allows scooters to ride on roads with speed limits up to 35 mph.
AB 3077 Vehicles: bicycle helmets. Anyone younger than 18 not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates will be issued a “fix-it” citation. If the minor can show they took a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards within 120 days, the citation will be non-punishable.
AB 516 Vehicles: temporary license plates. Requires auto dealers to issue temporary paper license plates when new cars are purchased, rather than current dealer logos, to ensure all drivers pay required tolls.
AB 544 Vehicles: high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Green and white HOV lane stickers and decals will no longer be valid. You’ll need a red decal. Affects more than 230,000 drivers throughout the state.
SB 1 Transportation funding. Under SB 1, California’s controversial gas tax and car registration increase, drivers will pay escalated fees of up to $175 more for vehicle registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles, based on the vehicle’s value.
SB 1046 Driving under the influence: ignition interlock device. Drivers who have been convicted of two DUIs will have to install breathalyzers, or ignition interlock devices, in order to start their vehicles. This allows drivers to keep their driving privileges instead of having their licenses suspended.



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