New California Laws for 2019

December 31, 2018

(KNX 1070) -- The new year brings new state laws that will affect everything from the criminal justice system to the workplace.

Here's a list of some of the laws that may impact your life in 2019. 

DMV: Californians can now apply for a "non-binary" driver license from the DMV. 

GRADUATIONS: High school and college graduates are now legally allowed to wear any religious garb or adornment they prefer during ceremonies. 

VOTING: Elected officials are not required to provide a prepaid mail ballot for mail-in voting. 

ENVIRONMENT: Single-use plastic is on the no-no list, so if you're a sipper, you'll have to request a straw from now on. Kid's meals now have to include water or unflavored milk versus soda or juice, and it's no longer illegal to buy homemade food, since the passing of a permit for small home cooking operations created by Assembly Bill 626.

SCOOTERS: Those 18 years or older can now enjoy the scooter craze helmet-free as of Jan. 1. 

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: In light of the #MeToo movement, many companies will have to adhere to some serious changes with regard to sexual misconduct. Companies can no longer pressure employees who settle sexual harassment complaints to sign non-disclosure agreements or require workers to sign releases of liability as a condition of continued employment or in exchange for a bonus. Nearly all California employees will be offered biannual sexual harassment training. Victims will now have up to a decade to seek civil damages from a sex assault claim, and the state must now complete a thorough audit of all the tens of thousands of untested rape kits by July. Lastly, all public companies must have at least one female director on their boards before 2020. 

GUN LAWS: California gun laws just got a lot more strict. The age limit to buy a long-gun is now 21; anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence will now lose his or her right to own a firearm; "Bump-stocks," the device used to increase firing speed, is now explicitly banned in the state. 

PETS: First responders are now allowed to perform any and all needed medical assistance to pets -- something previously only granted to vets. 

MOMS: Employers must now provide breastfeeding moms with a "private" space, (not a bathroom) for nursing or pumping breastmilk.

HEALTHCARE: Under Senate Bill, 910 insurers are prohibited from offering short-term health plans and company health plans will have to spend at least 80 percent of each premium dollar on health care.

POLICE: Beginning in July, law enforcement agencies are required to release audio or video footage within 45 days of a shooting or incident involving serious use of force, unless it interferes with an active investigation.

JOBS: California minimum wage slowly rising to $15 per hour. The base wage for employees working in a company with 26 workers or more is $12 per hour and $11 for smaller businesses. 

LEGALITIES: Children younger than 12 will no longer face prosecution for most crimes, except rape and murder. And kids younger than 16 will no longer be able to be tried as adults. Under Senate Bill 1046, Californians found guilty of driving under the influence will have to temporarily install breathalyzers in their vehicles to get their driver’s licenses back.