CALIFORNIA, (KERO) — With any new year, also comes a set of new laws taking effect in California, it can be hard to keep track of all that you need to know.
A lot of the new laws come in response to significant events that happened in 2020, issues like police reform and wildfires. Some will also see more money as a result of these changes.
The L.A. Times says Governor Gavin Newsom signed 372 new laws taking effect in 2021, the fewest in more than 50 years. It’s mostly because the pandemic forced the cancellation of weeks of legislative hearings in Sacramento.
Here’s some of what’s changing, the minimum wage will be increasing for employees who work at a company with 26 or more employees. The raise will be from 13 to 14 dollars an hour.
A number of the new laws this year reflect the urgency of the pandemic. Beginning in April, hospitals must maintain at least a three-month stockpile of personal protective equipment for their workers or face a fine of up to $25,000 per violation. 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. Also, 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 work site tests positive for the virus.
Some new laws come in response to the protests surrounding social injustice that flared last summer. Assembly bill 1196 bans the use of arm-based grips, often referred to as carotid restraints for all members of law enforcement. A similar hold was used in the killing of George Floyd and has already been banned by both the Kern County Sheriff's Office and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assembly bill 2542 says suspects could be entitled to new trials or sentences to demonstrate racial bias played a role in any part of their case.
Some laws relating to wildfires include assembly bill 2147, which allows inmates from the state's inmate firefighter program to become firefighters after completing their prison time, excluding "persons convicted of specified violent felonies and sex offenses.” 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. Assembly bill 2658 would ban employers from forcing domestic workers to work during an evacuation.
Finally, as it relates to traffic, 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. Another law to mention relating to traffic includes one bill that will exempt a person from liability for damaging a vehicle when rescuing a child 6 years old or younger who is in a dangerous circumstance in a vehicle.