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New California laws to know going into 2021

California Legislature
Posted at 9:47 AM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 12:47:16-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The new year brings new laws to be aware of for residents after many of the laws were signed just months ago by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The new laws cover issues like criminal justice and police reforms, employment, wildfires, and traffic.

Criminal justice/Police reform:

Senate Bill 145: Gives judges discretion over sex-offender registration in cases where a person found guilty of oral or anal sex with a minor between the ages of 14 to 17, where the age difference is less than 10 years. The bill changes antiquated language that protects a man in a relationship with an underage woman, extending it to members of the LGBTQ community.

Assembly Bill 1196: Bans the use of arm-based grips often referred to as carotid restraints, including chokeholds, that apply pressure to a person's windpipe, and to carotid holds, which slow the flow of blood to the brain.

Assembly Bill 1185: Allows county supervisors to create a sheriff oversight board and, either by supervisors or a county vote, an office of the inspector general to assist with duties as it relates to the sheriff. The bill also allows the chair of the oversight board and the inspector general to issue subpoena powers when deemed necessary to investigate a matter within their jurisdiction.

Assembly Bill 2147: Allows inmates from the state's inmate firefighter program to become firefighters after completing their prison time. The bill would exclude "persons convicted of specified violent felonies and sex offenses" from being eligible for the relief.

Assembly Bill 2542: Suspects could be entitled to new trials or sentences if they can demonstrate racial bias played a role in any part of their case. A person no longer imprisoned could file a motion to vacate a conviction or sentence if that conviction was levied on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.

Employment:

Minimum wage: California will raise the minimum wage for employees who work at a company that has 26 or more employees from $13 to $14 an hour.

Assembly Bill 2017: Would give employees the ability to use sick days at their discretion, and prevent employers from denying workers the use of their sick days for whatever reason they choose.

Senate Bill 1383: Requires small businesses with as few as five employees to provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to workers for qualifying life events, including the birth of a child, taking care of a loved one, serious health problems, or related to active military duty. A qualifying employee must have "at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, unless otherwise provided."

Assembly Bill 685: Requires an employer to notify all workers of a potential coronavirus exposure and local public health officials after a person at the worksite tests positive for the virus. The bill also requires that any related closures of a business be implemented "so as not to materially interrupt the performance of critical governmental functions essential to ensuring public health and safety functions or the delivery of electrical power or water."

Wildfires:

Assembly Bill 3074: Requires homeowners who live in fire-prone areas to create more intense fuel reduction between five and 30 feet around their home, in addition to the already required 100 feet of defensible space on each side. Homeowners would also need to create "an ember-resistant zone" immediately near their residence, but that depends on the state developing regulations on or before Jan. 1, 2023.

Assembly Bill 2658: Would ban employers from forcing domestic workers to work during an evacuation, whether due to wildfire or other identified "menace to the public health or safety."

Traffic:

Assembly Bill 2717: Will exempt a person from civil or criminal liability for trespassing or damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child 6 years old or younger who is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or another dangerous circumstance.

Assembly Bill 2285: Extends penalties for not moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles with flashing lights on freeways to local streets and roads. Emergency vehicles will also now include tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles, in addition to law enforcement and emergency vehicles.