As people around the world ring in the New Year with plenty of glitz, toasts and kisses, new laws impacting the lives of Californians will go into effect when the clock strikes midnight.
Outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than 1,000 laws in his last of 16 total years in office, most of which went into effect Tuesday. The new legislation ranges from increased gun restrictions to a mandate guaranteeing more female board members in the public sector, furthering California’s reputation as one of the most progressive states in the nation.
The state’s gun laws — already some of the country’s strictest — will tighten in 2019. Anyone convicted of specific domestic misdemeanors will be banned from possessing a firearm for life, as will those who have been involuntarily admitted into a mental health facility more than once in a year, and long guns, like rifles and shotguns, may no longer be purchased by those under the age of 21 unless they are active law enforcement, military or have their hunting license.
Some stores, like Dick’s Sporting Goods, have already voluntarily implemented such restrictions in 2018. Bilson’s Sport Shop in Turlock is not looking forward to the new laws in 2019, employee Larry Adams said, as long gun sales to those between the ages of 18 and 21 account for about 30 percent of the shop’s total firearm revenue.
“That will cut into a percentage of the business, but there will still be the opportunity for parents to buy the firearms and the children can use them,” Adams said. “We’ve had a lot of people coming in and questioning it.”
The majority of firearm customers under 21 are purchasing a long gun to use for hunting, Adams added. Previously, customers who purchased long guns for purposes other than hunting were only required to take a firearms safety course and show proof.
“I don’t understand how you can join the military, get a gun and get killed overseas, but you can’t own that same firearm in your own country,” Adams said.
A new straw law goes into effect this year as well, aimed at reducing the plastic drinking tool’s impact on the environment. Dine-in restaurants in 2019 may now only provide plastic straws at the diner’s request, while takeout restaurants, like fast food establishments, are exempt.
According to the California Coastal Commission, plastic straws and stirrers are No. 6 on the list of most common items found during beach cleanup days, with nearly 840,000 picked up between 1988 and 2016.
“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown said when he signed the law in September, pointing out plastic waste found in dead animals and tap water around the world. “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative.”
A large number of boardrooms in California will also see change in 2019 thanks to a new law which mandates that publicly-owned companies must have at least one female board member by the end of 2019. Then, by the end of 2021, companies are required to have at least two female directors if the corporation has five directors or three females if the corporation has six or more directors.
California took an additional step to combat gender discrimination by allowing those who identify as “nonbinary,” or those who do not believe they fall under the category of male or female, to designate themselves as so on their driver’s license via the letter “X.”
Oregon became to first state to add a third gender option on driver’s licenses in 2017, and California passed its own law later that year with implementation set for 2019.
“With this simple change, California has made daily life much safer and easier for many gender nonbinary and transgender people,” Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi said when Brown signed the bill in October 2017. “We’re asked for identification everywhere, from banks to bars to airports, and it can be devastating and even dangerous for nonbinary and transgender people to navigate life with an ID that doesn’t reflect who they truly are.”
Minimum wage will continue its gradual climb toward $15 in 2019, with the state’s base hourly wage increasing to $12 for companies with 26 or more employees and $11 for smaller businesses. Under the law, minimum wage will reach $15 per hour by 2022.
For complete information on bills signed in 2018, visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/.