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New California Laws in 2017
updated: Dec 31, 2016, 12:00 PM

By Celina Phillipson, Edhat Staff

Californians will be waking up to new laws tomorrow morning. Starting January 1st, 898 bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown will go into effect. Of these legislatures passed, California welcomes stricter regulated guns and ammunition laws, aggressive environmental legislation, and increased laws on sexual assault.

Some of the laws that go into effect are:

Gender neutral bathrooms: Assembly Bill 1732 requires all single unit bathroom stalls in businesses and public agencies to be gender neutral.

"Redskins" mascot banning: Originally passed in 2015, Assembly Bill 2015 gave public schools until 2017 to abandon the highly denounced insensitive mascot. Of the four high schools using the mascot, two have changed their name to "tribe", another to the "Reds," and the last has changed their mascot altogether.

Minimum wage increase: Minimum wage goes from $10 an hour to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 employees or more as part of a gradual increase for a nation-leading pay floor of $15 an hour by the year 2022.

Equal pay: Assembly Bill 1676 ensures a woman cannot be paid less than her male colleagues because of her previous pay.

Paid parental leave: Assembly Bill 2393 allows 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all K-12 employees and community college employees.

Welfare benefits: By repealing a policy known as the "maximum family grant," pregnant women on welfare can now apply for benefits to cover their newest child, as well as apply for children who had been previously excluded.

Lane splitting guidelines: Assembly Bill 51 administers CHP to develop educational guidelines of weaving between lanes of stopped cars for motorcyclists, further formalizing the definition of "lane-splitting."

Limited phone interaction: Assembly Bill 1785 further draws in the reigns of distracted driving by limiting mounted interactions of cell phones to a swipe or a click in order to allow drivers to use GPS. All other cell phone functions are to be handled in a hands-free mode.

Vehicle Registration Fee: This law increases registration fee from $43 to $53 for all trailers and vehicles beginning April 1, 2017, and increases the fee for the renewal, retention, transfer, or duplication of Environmental License Plates (personalized) from $38 to $43, starting January 1, 2017.

Accident reporting: The minimum damage needed to report to the DMV is increased from $750 to $1000. 

Gun restrictions: Purchasing semi-automatic, centerfire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that have a protruding pistol grip, folding or telescoping stock, or lack a fixed magazine is now unavailable. If already owned, guns with such specifications must be registered with the California Department of Justice. Under Assembly Bill 1511, gun lending is restricted to hunting guides and licensed family members for a limited number.

Student homelessness programs: Assembly Bill 1995 requires community colleges to open shower facilities up to homeless students, while Assembly Bill 1747 mandates public and private colleges to apply to participate in a state-funded program to provide meals to the homeless.

Park name trademarking: Assembly Bill 2249 bans all trademarking of names already associated with State Parks.

Physician accountability on control troubled children: Senate Bill 1174 holds doctors accountable by suspending licenses who over prescribe psychiatric drugs in order to create more transparency within the state's dependency to psychotropic medications and track mental health illness in children.

Powdered alcohol prohibition: Powdered alcohol is now illegal to sell, possess, or make within the state of California.

Earthquake warnings: $10 million is being directed to expand ShakeAlert, to further California's attempt at creating a statewide early warning system.

Consumer rights: Landlords are prohibited to show, rent, or sell any units with known bedbug infestations. Rental car companies are prohibited from renting out vehicles subject to manufacturer's recall until fixed.

Rape sentencing: Rape is hereby defined to include "all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault" with no statute of limitations under Senate Bill 813. Additionally, the maximum sentence will be employed for all sexual crimes committed on an unconscious person, following the outcry following the six-month sentence following the Brock Turner case.

Dog samaritan laws: Dogs locked in cars showing signs of distress can be liberated after attempts to find owners have failed and local authorities have been contacted.

Decriminalization of prostitution: Sex workers under the age of 18 are victims, not criminals, under Senate Bill 1322 - barring law enforcement from arresting minors for prostitution or loitering with intent. Senate 1129 removes mandatory sentencing for repeat offenders - providing flexibility in judges' sentencing for solicitors and sellers.

Car seats: Kids under the age of two must be fastened in a rear-facing child seat, unless 40 pounds or 40 inches tall. Children under the age of eight must ride in the backseat.

Voting: Senate Bill 450 allows voters to return mail in ballots to any county elections office in the State. Voters can now register the day of elections, but will be "conditional voter registration" - meaning the vote will not be counted until cleared. Additionally, felons serving time outside prison can now vote.

State travel: State agencies cannot require employees to travel to states that will discriminate or bar against customers for sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender. Conceived in response to Indiana allowing businesses to cite religious freedom as legal defense, the law will only affect travel to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi (Indiana's law came before a cut off written within the bill.)


(Source: California Bill Documents)


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