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California State Capitol. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Many New California Laws Taking Effect in 2020

Don’t get caught flatfooted on employment rules, gun control, or medical exemptions

By Katy Grimes, December 26, 2019 12:00 pm

The new year is almost here, and in addition to a presidential election year, 2020 is ringing in a bevy of new laws – some good, some bad, and some ugly.

Californians will see another minimum wage increase, an overhaul of California’s independent contractor employment laws, rent control, no more vaccine exemptions, more gun control, updated privacy laws, and more. Here’s a California Globe briefing of some of the laws which could affect your life in the coming year.

Minimum Goes Wage Up Again

California Minimum Wage schedule. (Department of Industrial Relations)

On Jan. 1, California moves yet again closer toward the end goal of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The minimum wage will increase to $13 an hour for larger employers with more than 26 employees, and $12 an hour for employers with fewer than 26 employees.

As the chart shows, the annual minimum wage increases until 2023, when the $15 an hour takes effect.

Some cities already have a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and are feeling the effects sooner than the rest of the state with many small business closures.

A recent University of California Riverside study found that California’s minimum wage increases have contributed to many restaurant closures. Economists at Harvard Business School and Mathematica Policy Research found that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage led to a 10 percent increase in the likelihood of restaurant closures for a median 3.5-star restaurant and a four to six percent reduction in the likelihood of restaurants entering the market to begin with, according to the Employment Policies Institute Minimum Wage project.

No School Suspensions: Time to Bring Back the ‘Dunce’ Cap?

“Willful disobedience” is the new buzzword for bad behavior in schools. Since “zero tolerance” policies were adopted by California public schools, suspensions grew exponentially. In 2010-2011, California public schools had 700,000 suspensions.

Then the Legislature started granting exemptions from suspensions. In 2012, then-Assemblyman Roger Dickinson authored two bills preventing students who willfully defied the authority of school officials from being subject to extended suspension, or recommended for expulsion. AB 420 passed. AB 420 eliminated willful disobedience suspensions only until July 1, 2018.

AB 2242 was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, whose veto message said: “The principle of subsidiarity calls for greater, not less, deference to our elected school boards which are directly accountable to the citizenry.”

Now, beginning July 1, 2020 under Senate Bill 419 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), it will be illegal for schools to suspend students in elementary grades through middle school for disobedient students, and grades 9 to 12 until January 1, 2025.

Gov. Newsom Signed 15 New Gun Control Laws

Of the new gun control laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, there are several addressing Gun Violence Restraining Orders. AB 12 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) Changes the duration and renewal of the gun violence restraining order. AB 61 by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) Authorizes an employer, a coworker, an employee, or teacher to file a petition for an ex parte, one-year, or renewed gun violence restraining order. AB 339, also by Assemblywoman Irwin on Gun Violence Restraining Orders Procedures, requires each specified law enforcement agency to develop and adopt written policies and standards regarding the use of gun violence restraining orders.

AB 1121 by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer Kahan (D-Orinda), was held in committee. If passed, AB 1121 would prohibits a person who is granted this pretrial diversion based on a mental health disorder from owning or possessing a firearm, or other dangerous or deadly weapon. This is one to watch.

There are many more gun laws concerning storage, sales, school zones, and concealed carry weapons permits, explained in detail at Gun Owners of California.

Rent Control

The California Legislature passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1482 to impose statewide rent control by capping rent increases. Assembly Bill 1482 by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), prohibits California landlords from raising rent by more than 7 percent plus inflation over the course of a year.

California voters soundly defeated Proposition 10 in November 2018 that would have allowed for rent control in every city across the vast state, repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which limits the use of rent control in California.

However, rent control advocates vowed to soldier forward, and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he had plans to make a deal on new rent control policies when he took office, the Globe reported.

Consequently, a federal lawsuit challenging the rent control law filed in U.S. District Court names California Governor Gavin Newsom, and the City of Long Beach for its “Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance,” which requires a property owner to pay to a tenant the equivalent of two months’ rent for a unit of similar size in the City (up to $4,500) for any reason the owner needs to repossess the rental property. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Paul Beard of Alston & Bird, names Better Housing for Long Beach and Joani Weir as plaintiffs.

“This clearly is an unlawful transfer of money from the landlord to tenants,” Beard said.

Vaccine Exemptions Targets Doctors

SB 276 by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), disallows the vaccination medical exemptions parents were receiving from family physicians, and its companion bill SB 714, which was hastily gutted and amended, and slammed through the Assembly and Senate without any policy hearings, orders the California Department of Public Health to investigate and discipline doctors who grant more than five medical exemptions in a year, in schools with immunization rates under 95 percent.

Today’s children receive 50 doses of 14 different vaccines by age six, and 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18.

Starting in 2020, Doctors who issue five or more exemptions will be subjected to investigation and discipline by the state.

California Right to Privacy Act

Jan. 1, 2020 rings in new rights to privacy.  Passed in 2018, California’s Consumer Privacy Act, AB 375 by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), was vehemently opposed  by Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Amazon, the California Globe recently reported. Despite their worries over what data rights would mean and now being held directly accountable for any future data leaks, AB 375 was passed and signed into law by former Governor Jerry Brown, with implementation January 1st.

The new law will provide Californians extended online privacy and new rights, including knowing what personal data is being collected about them, the right to say no to the sale of personal data, the right to see the personal data about them that has been collected, the right to know who the data was sold to, and the right to have a business delete personal information about them that had been collected. The rights are to be implemented on various websites and user agreements, and if any data is given or is released out with the users permission, the company would be directly at fault, according to the California Consumer Privacy Act website.

The new Privacy Act applies to California businesses that gross $25 million or more per year.

The law gives companies up to 45 days to comply with requests, with only one 45-day extension. Companies will be prohibited from selling the data of minors 16 years old and younger, without prior permission.

U.S. Senate Democrats are also looking to pass a similar federal law – the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), would closely follow California’s upcoming new law. A rival House bill would create a new federal agency to oversee consumer privacy.

UnAffordable Housing

The cost of a median price home in California went up 6% since last year, increasing the price to just over $605,000, more than twice the U.S. average. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several controversial housing bills preventing local governments from imposing building standards that would make a project more expensive, or actually halting housing construction.

SB 330, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Newsom, will allow for speedy timelines for housing permits, a ban on construction moratoriums, limits the number of public hearings on new housing projects, and forbids housing density reductions, California Globe reported.

The bill received a great deal of opposition, particularly by lawmakers who came from elected city councils. Most were concerned about the destruction to the local environment, and the desire to keep the cities they represent free to do their own planning and build as they see fit.

The original bill, SB 50, killed during the committee process, was instead passed via the gut and amend process. The new bill, SB 592, called the Housing Accountability Act, takes the local control of planning and zoning from cities in the name of supply-side economics. It requires local governments to provide a specified “equitable communities incentive” to developers that construct residential developments in “jobs-rich” and “transit-rich” areas, which may include certain exceptions to specified requirements for zoning, density, parking, height restrictions, and floor area ratios. The bill will greatly change residential neighborhoods from single-family homes to adding many apartment buildings, and low-income housing.

Expanded Medical Coverage for Illegal Immigrants

California became the first state to provide taxpayer-funded health coverage to adult illegal aliens, just ahead of a federal appeals court in New Orleans striking down a significant portion of the Affordable Care Act .

The appeals court agreed with a lower-court judge that the portion of the Affordable Care Act requiring people to purchase coverage is unconstitutional now that Congress has eliminated the tax penalty that was intended to enforce it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law allowing illegal aliens between the ages of 19 and 25 coverage under Medi-Cal, California’s health insurance program for the poor, disabled, and now for those living in the country and state illegally, beginning Jan. 1.

Despite that 93 percent of Californians have health insurance, the California Legislature approved the tax to California citizens who do not buy health insurance,  creating an “Individual Mandate” to require Californians to purchase health insurance, and imposes a fine for failure to do so.

The appeals court sent the case back to the lower court to decide how much of the rest of the law can stand in light of the ruling striking the tax penalty.

California Bans Hair Discrimination

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), says black people are disproportionately affected by bias when it comes to their hair. She authored SB 188, the CROWN Act, “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair,” which states that traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyle, be protected from discrimination in the work place and in K-12 public and charter schools, effective Jan. 1.

California Independent Contractors Reclassified

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that makes it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. Signing the measure Gov. Newsom called it “landmark legislation” for “workers and our economy” that would help shore up the middle class after decades of withering, California Globe reported.

“Assembly Bill 5 is an important step,” Newsom said during the signing. “A next step is creating pathways for more workers to form a union, collectively bargain to earn more, and have a stronger voice at work–all while preserving flexibility and innovation.”

During Senate debate, Sen. Steven Glazer (D-Orinda) said AB 5 “goes about the task in the wrong way. We should be writing rules to protect workers.” Glazer warned against regulating self-made business owners of any size.

AB5 was directed at Uber, Lyft and Doordash, which use independent contractors as drivers.

Members of the California Senate Republican Caucus offered 11 different sets of amendments to AB 5 to provide exemptions for additional industries, responding to the many industries already exempted by Gonzalez’s bill: forestry, health care professionals, newspapers carriers and distributors, physical therapists, interpreters, translators, single truck owner-operators, non-profits, franchisors, franchisees, and design, excluded from AB 5. Senate Democrats blocked every one of the amendment efforts.

There are several lawsuits against AB5. The Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, recently filed a lawsuit against California and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra due to the scope of the law either reducing work or outright firing thousands of independent contractors across California.

One lawsuit “calls for California legislators to remove the 35-submission cap per employer that AB-5 requires for a journalist to remain an independent contractor with that employer and instead to classify,” Hollywood Reporter said.

Uber and Lyft have said from the beginning that their businesses would be destroyed if they are required to reclassify their drivers as employees.

Business industry policy experts warned that the turmoil that will be created by this decision effects virtually every industry and its freelance, flexible and independent workforce in California from beauticians to real estate agents, from construction workers to Gig workers and everything in between.

Abortions Now Available on College Campuses

SB 24 by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) requires student health centers on University of California and California State University campus student health centers to provide primary health care and medical abortions to students by January 2023.

Bans on Fur, Natural Gas, Public Sleeping, Employment Arbitration, Circuses

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) authored AB 44, which now prohibits the sale and manufacture of new fur in California.

AB 51 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)is to substantially limit the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in employment disputes.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Martin vs. City of Boise on Monday, reducing the power that police in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have in stopping homeless people from staying in public areas.

More than 50 cities across the state are considering or have passed policies that will over time, eliminate the use of natural gas and support new construction that is only all-electric. Senate Bill 1477, signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2018, aims to have near-zero emission homes with an all-electric model.

SB 395, sponsored by state Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), seeks to amend current state law to allow drivers who fatally strike a deer, elk, antelope or wild pig to take the animal home and cook it.

AB 1260 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), adds iguana, skink, caiman, hippopotamus, and three types of lizards, to the import and trade prohibition of dead animals and dead animal parts.

What Else?

California Globe will continue to report on the 870 bills signed into law, effective January 1, 2020. Meanwhile, here are the bills signed by Governor Newsom on the final day of the 2019 legislative season:

  • AB 118 by the Committee on Budget – State employment: State Bargaining Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21.
  • AB 142 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) – Lead-acid batteries.
  • AB 218 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Damages: childhood sexual assault: statute of limitations.
  • AB 290 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) – Health care service plans and health insurance: third-party payments. A signing message can be found here.
  • AB 623 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) – Elections: printing requirements and ballot design.
  • AB 744 by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) – Health care coverage: telehealth.
  • AB 922 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) – Reproductive health and research: oocyte procurement.
  • AB 1519 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) – Healing arts. A signing message can be found here.
  • AB 1783 by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) –  H-2A worker housing: state funding: streamlined approval process for agricultural employee housing development.
  • SB 328 by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) – Pupil attendance: school start time.
  • SB 395 by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) – Wild game mammals: accidental taking and possession of wildlife: collision with a vehicle: wildlife salvage permits.
  • SB 707 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) – Arbitration agreements: enforcement.
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14 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Many New California Laws Taking Effect in 2020

  1. I’m hoping 2020 is my last year here in CA. This will be my new year’s resolution. Being a single 25 year-old, trying to find a decent place to live (not surrounded by homeless) with a high cost of living isn’t easy. Not to mention, I would never send my kid to public school here for various reasons due to the new sexual curriculum and the fact that I can’t choose whether to vaccinate. (Senator Richard Pan, who crafted this horrible bill, consistently lies to the public, including his lie that vaccines do not contain aborted fetal DNA.) Most doctors’ offices wouldn’t see my child either. I plan to move to Texas or Georgia. This is getting absolutely insane. Thank you for your honest reporting, Katy. Just bought your book for my dad for Christmas and I look forward to reading it.

    1. Thank you! I’m sorry you are leaving, and I can’t blame you. California can be turned around, but it won’t be easy or pretty.

    2. You are VERY wise…get the hell out ASAP!!! i have been here my entire life but cannot leave until my parent pass…they are 84 and 86 and not in the best of health so God knows when I can exit Commieville. My newphew left in his young 20’s and went to OK. He got a normal job working at American Airlines and he was able to buy a house and he lives very comfortably. He could never have done that here. There was a time the weather made it worth the traffic…but like you said, the prices, the homeless and the commies have made it completely unbearable!!! Good Luck to you!

    3. We moved to Idaho with our 2 young children 6 months ago and haven’t regretted it. The laws are betters and its cheaper. Even though I get paid less here as a nurse we are able to put away into savings when we never were able to do that in California.

  2. Another excellent reason to Abandon Kalyfornia before the housing prices crash and your property is worth close to zero. All of the surrounding states have better living environments than anything Kaly has except the weather and thats it now !!

  3. For all of those leaving, remember which party runs the state of california (sic) with absolutely no opposition at the state level; also, think of and look at who is running the state you’re moving to, and whether you want to keep voting for politicians who will use California as a model…. They talk about gerrymandering in other states, but they’ve effectively made it nearly impossible for anyone other than Gavin Newsoms, Jerry Browns, or Kamala Harrises to be elected in the state.

  4. I left california when the Rodney King verdict came out. Literally heading east past Sacramento when students were blocking the westbound lane. I couldn’t get out fast enough! I purchased property got a great job ( airlines) and have never struggled like I did there! I would be one on the streets had I stayed! Good luck kids, you’re going to need it.

  5. Well whatever state split happens 2, 3,6….(liberal) portions of California can no longer retain the Golden State logo, since most gold is mined in Alaska now and those liberal cities have not been involved in any gold mining in the last hundred years. They will only be able to retain the name the “Kirby state” like the vacuum it really sucks…
    Ca-ifornia (trying to get the “L” out)

  6. AB5 is a horrible law that causes havoc for musicians. Musicians who make up a string quartet for a wedding, or are hired for individual recording sessions, or who are paid to fill out missing instrumentation in community orchestras by coming in at the last minute for the dress rehearsal and public concert are now affected, and whoever hires them is also affected, making it almost impossible for the independent musician to survive.

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