The New Year is a time where many plan people for change, but one thing guaranteed in store for citizens is several new laws.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will now be required to issue drivers licenses to individuals who cannot provide proof of legal residence in the United States. That is, if the individual meets the other qualifications for the license such as proof of identity, California residency by showing school or medical documents, and providing a thumb print.
The popular question “Paper or plastic?” by grocery store employees could soon be rendered obsolete as Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will prohibit stores from offering single-use plastic bags at check out. However, a recently introduced referendum has the law in jeopardy. Business groups trying to overturn the ban of single-use plastic bags said Monday that they've collected more than enough signatures to put their referendum on the November 2016 ballot.
If the referendum qualifies, the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags will be suspended until voters weigh in, effectively buying plastic bag manufacturers more time.
The plastic bag manufacturing trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance said it was turning in more than 800,000 petition signatures to county registrars by Monday's deadline to qualify the referendum. The group needs about 505,000 valid signatures to qualify, and it will be weeks before counties make that determination through random sampling.
The ban was scheduled to be phased in starting in July at large grocery stores and supermarkets as a way to cut down on litter and protect marine life.
While California is the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, 98 local governments covering more than 127 cities and counties have already adopted banned bag ordinances.
A new law spearheaded by Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) will now make it illegal to distribute images someone takes of themselves, commonly known as ‘selfies,’ regardless of who created the image. The law, referred to as the Revenge Porn Law, was signed by Gov. Brown in September after passing unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly.
Regional water reliability, safe drinking water, and clean water programs are set to become more of a reality in California as a result of voter’s approval of Proposition 1, or Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. With its passing, the bond will also be geared towards water recycling projects, groundwater sustainability plan management and implementation, watershed protection, new surface and groundwater storage projects, and flood management.
The Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 means employers will now have to provide paid sick leave to employees working in California for 30 days at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked starting July 1, 2015. Unpaid interns and volunteers will also receive more protection by being added to the list of individuals under the Fair Employment and Housing Act which prohibits harassment and discrimination.
Smartphone owners will also receive some piece of mind come July 2015 as all phones will now be required to be sold with technology that enables owners to render it useless if it’s stolen.
A new state holiday has been established on the fourth Friday of September, to be known as Native American Day.
Schools will also have a slew of new laws to abide by, from social media to sports.
Rape on college campuses has been a nationwide conversation in recent years and with the passing of Senate Bill 967 colleges will now be required to develop instructions for their students on the importance of consent in sexual relationships. Programs and counsel for sexual assault victims will also be required.
Some community colleges in the states will now be starting pilot programs that will allow them to issue bachelor’s degrees in programs that are not duplicated by the University of California or the California State University systems.
Due to Assembly Bill 1441 a school district is now legally allowed to gather and maintain information about a student through social media as long as it pertains to school or student safety. Students can access the information the district collected and verify it, but it will be deleted no more than one year after a student turns 18 or is no longer enrolled in the district.
Any pesticides schools decide to use will now have to be reported to the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Public schools that participate in interscholastic athletics will have to post on their website gender related information for the number of sports offered as well as the rate of participation. High school aged students aged 16 will also be able to pre-register to vote to make them eligible upon turning 18 pending the secretary of state completion of a statewide voter database.
Dogs will also be permitted to dine with their owners on outdoor patios at restaurants if particular requirements are met, such as a separate entrance that does not require the owner and their pet to walk through the restaurant. While individual restaurant owners, as well as some local jurisdictions, will determine whether to allow dogs or not, if permitted the dogs must be kept on a leash and restaurant food staff is prohibited from making direct contact with the pooches. The animals also won’t be allowed on chairs or benches.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.