Dec 292019

Here are a handful of new laws that are new for 2020, including a smoking ban, limitations on gun purchases and a consumer loan cap.

CALIFORNIA — It’s that time again: a new year, and new laws that will go into effect in California. It can be difficult to keep track of everything, so we’ve gathered a handful of the laws that may impact residents the most in the Golden State come 2020.

Smoking Ban At Beaches

Smoking and vaping are banned at beaches and state parks starting Jan. 1. According to SB-8, throwing away cigars and cigarettes at state parks and beaches will also result in a fine. Smoking on a state beach or within a state park system, or disposing of a used cigar or cigarette at a state beach or state park, will be an infraction punishable by a fine up to $25.

No More Animals At The Circus

Elephants and exotic animals are banned from the circus, thanks to the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act. The SB-313 law bans “any animal other than a domestic dog, domestic cat or domesticated horse in a circus in this state.”

Sen. Ben Hueso introduced SB-313 in the state Senate, and animal rights organization PETA and Social Compassion in Legislation sponsored the bill.

“We were proud to join the California organization in helping with much of the research, legislative language and expert testimonies — in addition to generating support from other organizations and our members — and we applaud Hueso for prioritizing animals and public safety by introducing the bill,” PETA said.

Consumer Loan Cap

Consumer loans between $2,500 and $9,999 will have interest rates capped at 36 percent above the Federal Reserve’s main interest rates. This law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, is intended to prevent predatory lending.

Limitations On Gun Purchases

Californians will have to wait 30 days between buying semi-automatic rifles. The SB-61 law will go into effect Jan. 1.

Prohibition On Mandatory Arbitration Agreements

Mandatory arbitration agreements require people to resolve legal conflicts via an arbitrator rather than the court system. The AB-51 law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, prevents anyone from requiring employees or applicants to sign the mandatory arbitration agreement.

The ban on mandatory arbitration is considered pro-employee and pro-consumer because it allows complainants to seek justice through the court system rather than through arbitration, a system seen as favorable to employers and corporations. In court, a plaintiff can ask a jury to award damages.

Foster Children Protections

The AB-1061 law makes changes to the foster care system with the children’s well-being in mind. AB-1061 goes into effect Jan. 1 and requires social workers and probation officers to give children a 14-day notice if their foster parents have requested a placement change. It also requires social workers to develop plans with foster families to avoid abrupt changes to a child’s placement.

Extension For Reporting Sexual Abuse

The SB-436 law will extend the time that childhood sexual abuse survivors have to report the abuse. When the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, adults who survived childhood abuse will be allowed to file suits until they are 40 years old. Adults older than 40 who can connect the abuse to a psychological injury or illness within the past five years are also able to file suit.

No More Private Prisons

Private prisons and immigration detention facilities will be phased out by 2028, thanks to AB-32. As of Jan. 1, California can’t renew contracts with private prison companies. The law prohibits the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private, for-profit prisons to incarcerate state prison inmates; however, it would not prohibit the department from renewing or extending a contract to house state prison inmates in order to comply with any court-ordered population cap.

Graduate Degree Loans For “Dreamers”

The SB-354 law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, allows “Dreamers” (young, undocumented youths who were brought to the U.S. as children) who want to get a graduate degree from a public university in California to be eligible for the Golden State’s student loan program and in-state tuition. This gives “Dreamers” more opportunities to pursue graduate-level education.

Medical Marijuana In Schools

As of Jan. 1, the SB-1127 law allows California schools to decide if parents can give their children medical marijuana on campus. Students would need a recommendation from a doctor, and the marijuana can’t be stored on campus. Some parents administer medical marijuana to their children when they suffer from conditions such as epilepsy, and the law will make it easier for these families.

Restraining Orders For Gun Violence

The AB-12 law, which makes restraining orders for gun violence easier to obtain, will take effect later in the year: Sept. 1. Employers, co-workers and teachers who fear that a person will harm others or themselves can get a restraining order for gun violence, which allows law enforcement to temporarily take away the person’s guns. The person filing the restraining order has to get approval from their employer and file sworn statements.

“Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, one that’s been inflamed by the inaction of politicians in Washington,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told ABC 10. “While Washington has refused to act on even the most basic gun safety reforms, California is once again leading the nation in passing meaningful gun safety reforms.”

Changes To The Gig Economy

The AB-5 law limits employers’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Most contract, freelance and contingent workers will need to be reclassified as full-time employees — eligible for benefits, a guaranteed minimum wage and worker protections. If employers do hire freelancers, they are limited to 35 submissions in one year before they must be added to the payroll.


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