Dec 23, 2019
by Debra Newby, Newby Law
As part of my annual year-end tradition, I am highlighting some of the new California state laws. Keep in mind that during the 2019 Legislative Session, hundreds of Assembly Bills (AB) and Senate Bills (SB) collectively passed. Governor Gavin Newsom signed 870 of the 1,042 bills that landed on his desk (he vetoed the remaining 172 bills).
Below is only the tip of the iceberg. When possible, I have referenced the bill number. If you want to read the full text of the new law, go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov , click on “Bill Information” and then enter the bill number.
2019 was another violent year, marked with senseless shooting deaths. California continues to creatively deal with gun violence ( let us hope Congress develops the same back-bone) by passing at least two important gun-related bills. Californians are now limited to purchasing one long gun per month (SB 61). Also, in the past only law enforcement and immediate family members could seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order (“RO”) against a person who they suspect exhibited the capacity to kill with a gun. Now, under AB 61, starting September 1, 2020, schools and employers may now also seek a Gun Violence RO.
The enrollment deadline was extended from January 15th to January 31st…time is running out. Undocumented immigrant children are already eligible for low income health insurance, but under a new law, undocumented immigrants under the age of 26 can also enroll, if they meet the income requirements.
The contentious medical exemption for childhood vaccines finally passed (SB 714). The new law tightens the medical exemption by giving the CA Department of Public Health the authority to investigate any doctor who issues more than five exemptions in one year; schools that fall below a 95% immunization rate may be “red-flagged” by state public health officials.
Lastly, college students who attend public universities, starting in 2023, may now have access to an abortion pill (SB 24).
Before, consumers who took out loans from $2,500 to $10,000 could be subject to outrageous interest rates, some as high as 200%. Now, under AB 539, those predatory lending practices are curbed, with interest rates capped at 36% (which is still quite high in my mind). Ralph Nader would be proud. A step in the right direction.
Ideally, we all slow down (especially on our West County roads) and hopefully never hit a deer or other wildlife. But, sometimes that collision with wildlife happens. Now, under SB 395, California has adopted a pilot program that allows for the driver (or passing motorist) to apply for a “wildlife salvage permit” within 24 hours of the “kill”, so that the carcass does not waste away. Some call this new law “Kill and Grill”. For my sensitive vegetarian readers, let’s imagine a world of “Plant and Less Rant”.
If any of you are bold enough to admit that you have a family member or friend in state prison, then you already know the drill with private prisons. Everything, everything is “marked up” for profit…from a simple stamp to canteen food. California has now passed the first bill of its kind in the nation (that I am aware of) that in essence requires the state to cut all ties with private, for-profit prisons by 2028 (AB 32). A huge and long-overdue step in my mind. Now hopefully the California state prisons can concentrate on rehabilitation, as was originally intended, in lieu of making money to please Wall Street and stockholders.
In closing, my heartfelt gratitude to my loyal readers, my Editor, Vesta Copestakes, and this forum which offers an opportunity to enlighten and hopefully inspire our community on legal issues. I have had the honor of being your legal columnist for over 10 years (may be longer…easy to lose track of time). I look forward to continuing our joint mission of creating a Joyful and Peaceful 2020. May it be the Year of Clear Vision toward a world that works for everyone.
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