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California to ring in New Year with gun laws, minimum wage increase
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In anticipation of the states new gun regulations going into effect Jan. 1, Bilsons Sporting Goods in Turlock has seen a rise in assault rifle sales. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

The New Year brings with it party hats, confetti and plenty of resolutions, and this year, Californians can also prepare for a number of new laws which will go into effect come January.

In 2016, the Legislature sent Governor Jerry Brown 1,059 bills – of those, he signed 898, vetoed 159 and allowed two to become law without his signature. From gun regulations to a mascot ban, the following are just a few of the hundreds of new laws set to take effect Jan. 1.

California’s Legislature supported bills to more strictly regulate guns and ammunition, fortifying the state’s already-tough gun laws. The new gun-control regulations extend the definition of illegal assault weapons, banning the sale of weapons that circumvent a previously passed assault weapon law with reloading devices called “bullet buttons.” Now, California bans purchasing semi-automatic, centerfire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that lack a fixed magazine and have one of a number of features, including a protruding pistol grip or a folding or telescoping stock.

At Bilson’s Sporting Goods in Turlock, the approaching assault rifle ban has boosted the weapon’s sales in a short amount of time. According to owner Brad Bilson, before the ban, assault weapons comprised just 10 percent of the store’s guns sales. This week, however, they have accounted for more than 80 percent.

“Our sales have been great,” said Bilson. “People want to get something before they ban it.”

The typical assault weapon customers are either sporting enthusiasts, said Bilson, or in some cases, people who have never even owned a gun before.

“A majority of them just like going out and shooting at targets,” he said. “Or, we have people who buy them and stick them in a closet just because they’re banning them.

“Their choices are dwindling, and they just want to get one before they're banned.”

To many, the upcoming regulations are an infringement upon gun owners’ Second Amendment rights. The reactions of Bilson’s customers to the new laws have been almost unanimously negative, he said.

“Everybody who has and loves guns thinks gun laws are ridiculous,” said Bilson. “The people that use guns for harm aren’t following the laws…it makes it more difficult for a law-abiding citizen to buy a gun who wants to use it for law-abiding reasons.”

In response to Governor Brown’s decision to sign the new regulations into law, Bilson’s is offering a free target depicting the governor with ammunition purchases.

“Any stopping of the freedom to bear arms, if you’re a purist, goes against the Second Amendment,” said Bilson. “Jerry Brown has been very clear…he’s certainly not afraid to take away the stuff he thinks we shouldn’t have.”

Those already in possession of assault weapons must register them with the Department of Justice. In addition, background checks will now be required for ammunitions purchases, and the lending of guns is now limited to family members.

In addition to the state’s new gun laws, children’s safety is a recurring theme, with youth sports concussion protocol and car seat regulations taking center stage.

Though schools already have rules in place for athletes who have suffered a concussion, Assembly Bill 2007 expands those rules to youth organizations.  Now youth leagues must remove an athlete suspected of suffering a concussion for the rest of the day and keep them sidelined until they have been cleared by a licensed health care provider . The bill also requires training for coaches on concussions.

A bill signed back in 2015 designed to protect babies and toddlers, will also go into effect this year. Children younger than two years old will now be required to be placed in a rear-facing car seat unless they are 40 inches tall or weigh 40 pounds. The current state law already calls for children under eight to ride in a booster or car seat, but never specified which direction babies should face until now.

The paychecks of some California residents will be affected in a positive way, thanks to several laws involving the state’s minimum wage, equal pay and parental leave. The statewide minimum wage will go from $10 to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees – the first step in a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022. Under Assembly Bill 1676, employers are forbidden from paying a woman less than her male colleagues because of her prior salary. Another law, Assembly Bill 2393, gives up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all K-12 public school and community college employees, including classified workers and community college faculty.

Toilets throughout the state will also see change in 2017, as new state law requires water-conserving plumbing fixtures for single-family homes built before 1994. Fixtures that must be replaced to fit these regulations include toilets manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons per flush, urinals which use more than one gallon of water per flush and showerheads or interior faucets with flow capacities of more than 2.5 gallons or 2.2 gallons of water per minute, respectively. The new laws are not point-of-sale requirements, however, and are simply home ownership requirements.

The mascot “Redskins” is now a thing of the past in California. In 2015, Assembly Bill 30 passed, giving public schools until 2017 to remove the mascot name, as the term is widely thought to be racist and insensitive to Native Americans. Schools throughout the state which have complied with the new law will now root for mascots such as the “Tribe” and the “Reds.”

For complete information on bills enacted in 2016, visit