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What to Know: California's New Laws for 2019

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California introduced some new laws for 2019 on January 1st. These new rules apply to driving, minimum wage, workplace harassment, transportation, public health and safety, and guns. To learn how these new laws will impact you, read on.

Workplace Laws

For companies with 26 employees or more, California has bumped the minimum wage to $12 an hour. For businesses with fewer than 26 employees, the new minimum wage will be $11. Along with it, Assembly Bill 1066 will slowly phase in a requirement to pay overtime for farm workers.

The #metoo movement has influenced the terms of Senate Bill 820 where anyone who settles a sexual harassment claim cannot be forced to sign an NDA to protect the name of the perpetrator. Every company must also now hold biannual sexual harassment training. Assembly Bill 1619 allows victims ten years to make claims and seek restitution for past sexual harassment crimes.

Employers will be required to provide a private, lactation space and breaks for mothers who need to pump breast milk while at work. According to Assembly Bill 1976, the area cannot be a bathroom.

Public Health and Safety

California is raising the age limit to 21 for the purchase of long guns with Senate Bill 1100. Additionally, Assembly Bill 2103 will now require gun buyers to complete an 8-hour training course and pass a live-fire gun shooting test before they can get a concealed carry permit.

In a further effort to protect the victims of domestic violence, Assembly Bill 3129 disallows anyone previously charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to own a gun.

To combat childhood obesity and diabetes, Senate Bill 1192 now requires food chains that serve kid’s meals to serve water or unflavored milk as the default drink choice. Customers can still order a soda or other beverages.

In an ongoing effort to help the environment, California has enacted Assembly Bill 1884 that prevents restaurants from offering patrons plastic straws with their drinks, unless specifically requested. The state wants to discourage the use of single-use plastic items that are not eco-friendly.

Gender Identification

California will now allow anyone who does not identify as male or female to select a third option of “nonbinary” on their driver’s license. An X will represent the new designation governed by Senate Bill 179.


California is cracking down on people who drive drunk. With Senate Bill 1046, repeat DUI offenders who injure themselves or others will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle for 12-48 months. Upon suspension of their license, they are allowed to apply for an IID-restricted driving privilege. Be aware that notation of this device and any suspensions will show up on your driving records.

Senate Bill AB 2989 allows drivers of motor scooters the choice to wear or not wear helmets when driving on California roadways.

Police & Crime

Senate Bill 1421 addresses the controversy over police shootings by allowing public access to internal investigation documents where police killed or injured civilians. Additionally, police must release audio or video camera footage within 45 days after an incident to comply with Assembly Bill 748.

Now that marijuana is legal in California, people who were convicted of possession, cultivation, and distribution previously can now petition the court to have these offenses expunged from their criminal records.

Senate Bill 439 aims to promote rehabilitation rather than punishment for juvenile delinquents. Under this new law, no one under the age of 16 can be tried as an adult.

Health Insurance

California is working hard to preserve health insurance covered by the Affordable Care Act. Senate Bill 910 puts a lot of new restrictions on health insurance providers including not allowing any low-cost, bare-bones policies, excluding prescription drugs or mental health services or denying coverage for preexisting conditions.

Senate Bill 1375 disallows employers from banding together to form their own “association health plans” to avoid laws pertaining to the Affordable Care Act.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 2499 requires that health insurance companies spend at least 80% of every dollar on health care.


Under Senate Bill 1305, first responders are now legally allowed to provide CPR and other resuscitation techniques to revive pets that are unconscious or injured.


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