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Home Kitchens, Gender Identity, Rescued Rabbits: New California Laws For 2019

CALIFORNIA — Here are a handful of the hundreds of laws that go into effect on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019:


Employment: lactation accommodation AB 1976 Requires employers to make private space available for women who are breastfeeding at work, other than a bathroom. The law previously required space other than a toilet stall.


Food facilities: single-use plastic straws AB 1884 Patrons of a full-service restaurant who wish to sip drinks using a single-use plastic straw will now need to ask for one. Restaurants can be fined for repeated violations.

Children’s meals SB 1192 Prohibits California restaurants selling children’s meals from offering soda or juice as the default drink option, though customers can request them if they prefer.

Food options: plant-based meals  SB 1138 Healthcare facilities and prisons are required now to offer plant-based meals to patients.

Microenterprise home kitchen operation AB 626 Allows cities and counties to permit and regulate the small-scale sale of meals from home kitchens.

Craft distillers SB 1164 Craft distillers will be able to operate more like wineries, selling whiskey, vodka and other spirits directly to customers. Previously, consumers were required to take a tour or sign up for a tasting to buy alcohol.


Gender identity: female, male, or nonbinary SB 179 Allows Californians to identify their gender as “nonbinary” on official state documents. For example, the DMV’s driver’s license application form will now require applicants to choose either male, female or nonbinary.


Pet store operators: dogs, cats, and rabbits AB 485 Requires all dogs, cats, and rabbits sold in California pet stores to be obtained from animal shelters or rescue groups.


Peace officers: video and audio recordings: disclosure AB 748 Requires, for transparency, that body camera footage be released within 45 days of a police shooting, or when an officer’s use of force causes death or great bodily harm.

Peace officers: release of records SB 1421 Allows public access to police records in use-of-force cases, as well as investigations that confirmed on-the-job dishonesty or sexual misconduct.

Juveniles: fitness for juvenile court SB 1391 Prohibits criminal defendants of ages 14 and 15 from being prosecuted as adults.

Firearms: gun violence restraining orders SB 1200 Eliminates fees for requesting gun violence restraining orders and allows law enforcement officers who confiscate guns under the program to seize ammunition as well.

Firearm: transfers SB 1100 The minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun in California increases from 18 to 21 years.

Driving under the influence: ignition interlock device SB 1046 From four counties to statewide, expands a pilot program that mandates ignition interlock devices for severe or repeat drunk driving convictions.


Motorized scooter: use of helmet: maximum speed AB 2989 Allows local governments to raise the speed limit for motorized scooters on streets to up to 35 mph, or higher on certain highways with special bike lanes. The bill requires the operator of a motorized scooter to wear a helmet if the operator is under 18 years of age.

Vehicles: temporary license plates AB 516 Requires auto dealers to issue temporary paper license plates when new cars are purchased, rather than current dealer logos, to ensure all drivers pay required tolls.

Smog check: exemption AB 1274 Raises the vehicle age requirement to get a smog check from six to eight years, and requires a $25 smog abatement fee vehicles seven and eight years old. The existing $12 fee for vehicles six years old and under remains in place.

Vehicles: high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) AB 544 Green and white HOV lane stickers and decals will no longer be valid — a red decal is required now for a new law that affects more than 230,000 drivers throughout the state.


Minimum wage SB 3 Raises minimum wage from $11 to $12 an hour for employees of businesses with 26 or more employees and from $10.50 to $11 for employees of businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Agricultural workers: wages, hours, and working conditions AB 1066 Requires overtime pay for farm workers who work more than 9.5 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week at farms with 26 or more employees.

Sidewalk vendors SB 946 Prohibits criminal penalties for sidewalk vending, while allowing local governments to regulate vendors.

Privileged communications: communications by former employer: sexual harassment AB 2770 Protects employees who report sexual harassment allegations without malice from liability for defamation of the people they accuse. Also, allows employers to indicate during reference checks whether an individual has been determined to have engaged in sexual harassment.

Settlement agreements SB 820 Bans nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment, assault and discrimination cases that were signed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

Unlawful employment practices: discrimination and harassment SB 1300 Prohibits employers from forcing new employees or those seeking raises to sign nondisparagement agreements or waive their right to file legal claims. Those rights, however, could still be waived as part of a settlement — which often happens in exchange for a severance package.

Corporations: boards of directors SB 826 Publicly-traded companies must have at least one woman in their board of directors by the end of 2019 and two or more women in their board of directors by 2021.

Additional source: California State University 

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