Hundreds of laws went into effect Jan. 1

Seal of the State of California (public domain image)

SACRAMENTO — The Atascadero News may not a have the resources for a statehouse reporter stationed in Sacramento, but we’ve been keeping our ears to the ground through 2018 as legislation passed.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, in office until Jan. 7, signed more than 1,000 pieces of legislation over the last year and most went into effect as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Diverse mandates that will be noticeable for Central Coast locals include things only parents might pay attention to, such as what children will be served as default menu options at family restaurants, but also more serious matters like age restrictions on who gets to buy their own shotgun or rifle.

Statewide restrictions on plastic straws at restaurants also go into effect, similar to those already in place in municipalities such as San Luis Obispo. Dinners will now have to ask for the drinking aid directly or bring their own.

Continuing changes which started on a previous annual rollout of increases, California’s minimum wage keeps climbing, now $11 an hour for people working at companies with 25 or fewer employees, and $12 an hour for those working at companies with 26 or more employees.

The following list, though by no means exhaustive, includes other noteworthy bills which will in some way affect how Californians live, excluding traffic law changes, which are included in a separate public safety article.

Assembly Bills

AB 216 — The next mail-in ballot California voters receive will include a “self-addressed stamped envelope” from the department conducting the election. In most San Luis Obispo County Elections that will be the Clerk Recorder’s office, which has until now provided envelopes but not always postage.

AB 485 — Pet stores can no longer use breeders, instead being required to source cats and dogs from animal shelters, and offer buyers a paper trail. In the North County, Woods Humane Society still offers adoptions directly from their shelter in Atascadero.

AB 626 — Allows home chefs to start a business serving food from home kitchens to paying guests although there will be health inspections. The City of Atascadero expects that the changes will boost the number of applicants for their Tamale Festival in 2020 if not this year.

AB 1525 — Firearms will now come with warning labels emphasizing a need for responsibility and secure storage. No comment was found on the record explaining how a label might change the inclinations of people who already don’t handle guns properly.

AB 1762 - Visitors should now know with certainty, from State Parks websites, if dogs are allowed to accompany them into the park. At the popular Montana de Oro State State Park, one of the few which is still free to visit, dogs are not allowed on trails, but leashed dogs are allowed in the campground and beach at Spooner's Cove.

AB 1800 — Wildfire victims were given an extra year to organize rebuilding an insured home, up from a standard two years to three. The measure should help homeowners who are facing day-to-day expenses while exploring future options. With luck, no new SLO County wildfire victims will be created in 2019, but all Californians know at least one person already affected.

AB 1884 — The plastic straw law affects businesses as described earlier. Those which don’t instruct their staff to comply can be fined $25 a day. Anecdotal evidence speaking with waitstaff in the City of Atascadero suggests it will be a smooth transition for most.

AB 1974 — California public schools now can't withhold high school diplomas for a range of unpaid fees. Supporters say the bill helps separate economic hurdles from recognition of academic achievement.

AB 1976 — On the raft of legislation affecting how people work, new mothers are supposed to be provided with a private, non-bathroom, facility to express breast milk. Mothers who’d gone through the experience in the last five years told the Atascadero News that space often ends up being a converted closet.

AB 2020 — Cannabis ingestion will now be allowed during special events hosted at an expanded list of venues. The bill brings the industry closer to the type of tasting/sampling events and regulation enjoyed by the wine industry.

AB 2103 — Concealed weapon carriers must now undergo eight hours of training. AB 2103 is one of several addendum to how firearms are treated in the state.

AB 2215 — Veterinarians can now talk to pet owners about cannabis use and animals, but are still not allowed to dose critters themselves.

AB 2274 — Pets will also now be considered in family court as judges weigh welfare and care in awarding custody, in a manner similar to children. Critics of the measure voice concern that courts will be overwhelmed.

AB 2504 — Police will get more mandatory training around issues affecting the  LGBTQ community, not least paying attention to the difference between gender identification and sexuality. The topic was not part of the raft of concerns for the Atascadero Police heading into the new year, but Police Chief Jerel Haley did note that officers are adapting to less conservative social morays over time.

AB 2601 — Sex Ed standards are being applied across the board at charter schools which must now offer the same education programs as other public schools.

AB 2685 — Juvenile courts can no longer use the driver's license of a minor as leverage over a habitual truant.

Senate Bills
SB 100 — Perhaps not noticeable directly but on a bill in the mail, public utilities like PG&E must implement plans to meet a 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2045.

SB 179 — Driver's license or identification cards can now say M, F, or X at the recipient's discretion, at any point after Jan. 2, 2019.

SB 568 — Moves up the California 2020 presidential primary to the first Tuesday in March. The move comes from a desire to give the “Left Coast” more say in party politics, which residents have felt may be already determined by the time votes took place. The change is unrelated to the timing or number of electoral college delegates in the November general election.

SB 826 — Publicly-traded companies in the state will be required to have at least one woman in their board of directors by the end of 2019. Most publicly elected bodies
in SLO County already pass that bar easily, but corporate entities have lagged behind.

SB 946 — Dovetailing with AB 626, street vendors will be able to sell more food although counties and municipalities can still have a say in licensing and regulation.
SB 1100 — The minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun in California is 21 years old as of Feb. 1, 2019. Purchases under current law must conclude by Jan. 20.

SB 1138 — Healthcare facilities and prisons in the state must now offer vegetarian meals, no word on gluten-free.

SB 1164 — Of note in the Paso Robles wine region, craft distillers will be regulated more like wineries. Customers will be able to make purchases from the source, even without tours or tasting facilities.

SB 1192 — Less well known locally than the straw ordinances, restaurants with children's menus must offer “milk, water or flavored water with no added sweeteners,” as the default option, although parents can still let their kids order soda instead.
SB 1252 — Employees who want to see what their employer is recording about them can now receive a personal copy of their files rather than only review records at the office.


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