The new year has brought with it several new state laws which will impact the lives of Californians. The complete list can be found here. A few noteworthy changes in civil, employment and family law, likely of interest to the legal community and the general public are as follows:
The new law which has garnered the most media attention nationwide, AB 5, is the result of a recent State Supreme Court ruling, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018), stating workers must be classed as employees if the work they do is a regular part of a company’s business. There are several exemptions and the long-term economic impact is not yet known; but someone who, for example, regularly drives for a delivery company, is now an employee with all the accompanying rights and benefits.
Employees are now protected from discrimination based on hairstyle under SB 188, a bias which especially affected African American employees.
Also in the news recently, AB 218 which extends the statute of limitations to allow childhood sexual assault victims to file civil suits until they reach age forty.
AB 330 doubles the funding of a program offering free legal help to low income Californians involved in child custody, probate, and eviction cases.
Under SB 495 Courts cannot consider sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression when awarding child custody and visitation.
AB 686 allows a Native American child’s tribe to participate in dependency court hearings by phone or video conferencing.
Individuals can now sue to stop the distribution of videos or audio clips of themselves that have been altered without their permission under AB 730.
In the area of criminal law, many changes have focused on criminal justice reform, including the following:
A few gun control measures have been added to the books, among them, AB 164 which states that a person banned from having a firearm in another state cannot legally possess one in California and SB 61 which raises the age limit to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle to 21.
Under SB 485, The DMV can no longer suspend a driver’s license for non-vehicle related offenses such a failure to pay court fines or child support.
SB 310 seeks to help diversify the jury pool by allowing most people with prior felony convictions who have completed their sentences to serve on a jury.
SB 36 will require more transparency in the way agencies evaluate the risk a person would pose if released from pretrial detention. It is hoped that this will reduce bias.
SB 394 expands pretrial diversion programs to primary caregivers of children in the hopes of keeping families together by connecting them to needed services instead of incarceration.