Unlike Congress, the California Legislature actually passed (mostly) beneficial laws taking effect in 2018. And the provisions of various ballot measures passed by state voters are also kicking in.
Included in today’s column is an overview of how some of these 800+ changes will affect Californians. I’ve broken the coverage into the following categories: Crime, Immigration, Education, Voting, Working, Guns, Health & Safety, and Marijuana. Included throughout are short summaries, with links to more detailed explanations.
The biggie is, of course, marijuana legalization. Except that it’s more like marijuana regulation, as local governments struggle to either acknowledge/tax or ignore a $7 billion industry impacting everything from tourism to agriculture. Generally speaking, the state will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of pot and grow six marijuana plants at home. (More on that subject at the end of this story.)
Crime & Punishment
- Inmates over 60 years of age who have served at least 25 years of their sentence must be considered for parole.
- Additional criminal charges will be added for those who record and stream violent acts
- Juveniles will no longer be sentenced to life without parole. Those who have been incarcerated for 25 years will become eligible for parole.
- Counties will no longer be able to charge fees for the detention and monitoring of juvenile offenders.
- Offenders age 15 or younger are now required to consult with attorneys before waiving their rights.
- Law enforcement agencies will now be required to report to the state how many sexual assault kits they collected and have examined, and how many they haven’t — along with the reason why the evidence wasn’t tested.
- Exposing a partner to HIV will no longer be considered a felony. It will now be a misdemeanor, which is the standard for other communicable diseases in California.
- There will be no more tickets for jaywalking based on crossing the street once the signal flashes. (But pedestrians must make it across before the traffic signal changes)
- Those arrested but not convicted of criminal charges will be able to ask the judge to seal the records.
Law enforcement agencies in California now have limits on how much they can help federal immigration officers.
- Landlords who threaten to report tenants to immigration authorities will face civil penalties.
- Warrants are now required for workplace immigration raids.
- State agencies providing assistance to the developmentally disabled and juveniles will no longer be required to repoprt immigration status to federal officials.
California schools are not allowed to deny meals to students whose parents haven’t paid fees.
- Schools in areas with high rates of poverty are now required to make free tampons and other sanitary supplies available to students in grades 6-12.
- Public schools are now required to test annually for lead in drinking water.
- First year fees will be waived for full-time students in community colleges, provided that funding is included in next year’s budget.
- Students in grades 7-12 must be taught about sexual abuse and human trafficking prevention.
- Senate Bill 450, passed in 2016, begin the process (in five counties, not including San Diego for now) of making voting by mail the default choice. Every registered voter will receive a mail ballot. Drop-off locations will be available up to four weeks before election day, and temporary regional “vote centers” will open 10 days ahead of time to register voters and accept ballots.
- Large donors to state ballot measure campaigns will have stricter standards for political ads.
- Non-English speaking voters will have additional assistance available at polling places.
- Small businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents. Health insurance coverage cannot be interrupted during this period.
- Businesses with fewer than 26 employees will pay 50 cents more per hour, raising the minimum hourly pay to $10.50. Employees that work for companies with 26 or more employees will earn $11 per hour. This applies to areas outside the City of San Diego, where the minimum wage is already $11.50.
- Employers will no longer be able to ask about past salary history during the hiring process.
- The state’s equal pay law will be expanded to include government jobs in an effort to remove any gender-biased pay rates.
- Businesses with more than five employees can not include questions about a person’s conviction history on employment applications. Consideration of a criminal record is allowed after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.
- Business with more than 50 employees now have mandates requiring training covering harassment based on gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation.
- General contractors on private projects in the state are now responsible for wages unpaid by subcontractors.
Proposition 63 requires ammunition sellers to be licensed and makes it illegal for individuals to bring ammunition in over state lines.
- Convicted criminals are now required to turn in all guns before court cases can be considered closed.
- Stolen weapons must be reported within 5 days.
- California school employees are not allowed to carry concealed weapons onto campuses.
- Local officials now have the option of banning open carry of rifles and shotguns in urban unincorporated areas.
- As of July 1, 2018, self-made guns must have a serial number issued by the state.
- Persons convicted of hate crimes lose the right to own guns for 10 years. Gun nuts, nativists, and racists are ‘up in arms’ over this one.
Humans, Health and Safety
Additional buildings are being required to provide diaper changing stations in men’s restrooms.
- Subsidized diapers are now available to single mothers and other parents who participate in the CalWorks Welfare-to-Work and Cal-Learn programs, and who have children under age three.
- Landlords must provide information about bed bugs to apartment tenants and follow new rules if an infestation is found.
- Fees for fossil fuel vehicles are increasing, based on the value of the vehicle. Revenues will fund road repairs.
- Drug manufacturers are going to court to stop a law requiring 60 days notice if prices rise more than 16 percent over a two-year period.
- Label information will include ingredients for cleaning products used in homes, schools, and workplaces.
- Fees added to mortgage refinancing and other real estate transactions will be used to spur affordable housing development and rent subsidies.
- Alcohol companies and bars will be allowed to give vouchers or promo codes for customers using rider share services to get discounts.
- People are no longer required to choose male or female as gender on identification documents. Transgender people will be able to select “nonbinary” as an option if they do not identify as either male or female beginning in 2019.
- LGBT older adults now have civil rights protections in assisted living communities and nursing homes
Finally, Legalized Marijuana
- California’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana commerce goes into effect.
- Retail sellers need both a local permit and a state license. The City of San Diego is one of the few localities completing their permitting procedures in time for the new law’s start date.
- Medical pot dispensaries will remain limited to serving customers with patient IDs, unless they have applied for and received licenses for recreational marijuana sales.
- Revenues from state and local taxes in California are expected to add up to a billion dollars annually to government treasuries.
Here are some things remaining prohibited under the new laws, via Alternet:
- You can’t purchase or possess more than an ounce–unless it is the fruits of your personal grow.
- You can’t smoke it in public in most places, including bars and restaurants. Anywhere cigarette smoking is prohibited, pot smoking is prohibited. And if you’re a renter, your landlord can ban pot smoking on the premises.
- You can’t get stoned while driving. Getting caught toking up behind the wheel will get you a $75 ticket, but if the cops think you are too high, you could also end up getting busted for driving under the influence, and that’s a whole lot more than a $75 ticket.
- You can’t use marijuana’s state-legal status to prevent your employer from firing you for smoking pot, even off the job.
Licensed businesses selling recreational marijuana as of January 1 in San Diego City include:
- Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative
- Urbn Leaf Dispensary 1
- Urbn Leaf Dispensary 2
- Harbor Collective
- Mankind Cooperative
- The Healing Center San Diego
- A Green Alternative MMCC
- Torrey Holistics
- MMOF San Diego Retail (No website?)
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
You can now get the Weekly Progressive Calendar delivered to your inbox every Friday. And it’s Free! Subscribe and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
Subscriptions to the Starting Line (Monday-Friday) are available:
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.