Hundreds of new laws passed by California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature will go into effect in 2020.
From restricting independent contractors to a minimum wage hike to limits on rent increases to stricter rules for vaccine medical exemptions, here are some of the bills signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The controversial Assembly Bill 5 reclassifies many independent contractors as employees, making them eligible for workplace benefits like minimum wage, overtime, sick leave and more. It takes effect Jan. 1.
The statewide minimum wage will rise to $12 an hour for small businesses with 26 or fewer employees, and $13 an hour for employers with more than 26 employees. The minimum wage increase moves California toward its goal of a $15 minimum wage in 2023.
Under AB 1482, landlords are barred from imposing annual rent increases of more than 5 percent, plus inflation. Additional protections for renters will take effect in 2020.
As part of another law, landlords are prohibited from rejecting low-income tenants who use federal Section 8 program housing vouchers to pay their rent.
Under AB 17, employers must give workers time off to vote, without requiring or requesting that an employee bring his or her vote-by-mail ballot to work.
Changes will begin in the next coverage year to state health insurance laws. Californians will have to pay a penalty on their state taxes if they go without health-care coverage in 2020.
On July 1, it will become illegal for kindergarten through eighth-grade schools to suspend students for disruptive behavior, under SB 419. The law applies to charter and public schools.
SB 826 requires all publicly held corporations in California to have a minimum of one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019, as well as two or more by 2021 for boards of five, and three women by 2021 for boards of six or more.
California is the first state in the nation with such a requirement, according to state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who wrote the new law.
“The law sparked a national conversation about the makeup of our boards, led several companies to bring more women onto their leadership teams, and opened doors for talented women across the state,” Jackson’s office said in a statement.
“With numerous independent studies showing that corporations with women on their boards are more profitable, there is simply no excuse for shutting women out of the boardroom.”
Additional legislation authored by Jackson will require smart device security, prepare for an aging state and improve emergency planning starting Jan. 1.
SB 327 requires manufacturers of Internet-connected consumer devices, such as wireless routers, mobile phones and televisions, to equip the gadgets with reasonable security features like detecting potential hackers or the ability to change passwords. According to supporters of the bill, the devices will better protect sensitive consumer information, including location history and web browsing patterns, from unauthorized access, use or disclosure.
SB 228 encourages collaboration among California stakeholders and departments, provides a framework of values, builds on best practices and research to provide a plan for addressing the needs of disabled and aging Californians, and it requires reporting to the Legislature on the progress of the plan.
SB280 strengthens home-building standards to help disabled and aging adults reduce their risk of dangerous falls and allow them to age at home.
SB 623 directs the state Department of Housing and Community Development to use current Census Bureau data to determine the assistance allocated for the construction of low-income senior housing units. Supporters of the bill say the law will help ensure housing allocations accurately reflect California’s increasing senior population.
SB 160 will guarantee emergency planning is sensitive to the state’s significant cultural and linguistic diversity, according to the law. The bill directs counties to integrate translators and interpreters in emergency communications, as well as incorporate qualified representatives from community groups during the planning process, and use culturally appropriate resources when preparing people for disasters.
SB 551 directs the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to develop a process for assessing the costs of decommissioning all gas and oil infrastructure within its jurisdiction, and requires oil or gas facility operators to report its total liability for plugging and abandoning wells and other facilities beginning July 1, 2022, and at least every five years afterward.
“Over the next several decades, California will face the significant challenge of infrastructure that remains from oil and gas production,” Jackson’s office said in a statement. “While oil and gas operators are required to bear the ultimate financial responsibility for shutting down their wells, removing infrastructure and remediating sites, in several cases they are refusing to do so, leaving California taxpayers paying the costs.”