Here comes 2015, and along with the New Year comes a proliferation of new laws, 931 of them to be exact. Click on “bill information”, and you can peruse the list for yourself. These laws, passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, became effective January 1, 2015, unless the bill says otherwise.
This past 2013-2014 session, legislators took on a wide range of diverse issues concerning health care, bullying, harassment, health & safety issues, mandatory paid sick days, issuance of driver’s license to Undocumented Immigrants, prevailing wage legislation on construction sites, Cal/OSHA reporting requirements, gun violence restraining orders, animal welfare legislation, visitation rights for grandparents and even created a new state holiday, Native American Day to be celebrated the last Friday in September. See Press-Enterprise, Focus/Legislation, New State Laws, January 1, 2015. p.6.; Los Angeles Times, Cage-free but costlier, December 28, 2014.
California is a bellwether state in many respects. What happens here is often a harbinger of trends that sweep across the United States. So, it is not surprising that what is at first controversial legislation here, ultimately finds its way into the statutes of other states. Below are the highlights of some notable and unusual new laws that Californians will be subject to in 2015:
Animal welfare: Egg producers, must house their chickens in more spacious enclosures that allow animals to stand, lie down and spread their wings, replacing the cramped and inhumane cages that were previously used. A lawsuit by egg producers, which sought to overturn the law, was overruled by a federal judge’s ruling that California had the authority to implement this law. Other states are struggling with the same issue.
Dogs: Restaurants can now allow owners to eat with their doggy friends in outdoor patios of dog-friendly restaurants, under certain conditions. AB 1965 allows restaurants to choose whether to participate or not and allows localities to preclude the practice.
California Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants: This legislation (pursuant to AB 60) allows those “undocumented” persons who can prove residency(utility bills etc. to apply for a California Driver’s license, subject to certain federal restrictions and “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration or public benefits”.
Next week we will look further at other new laws that became effective in 2015, and consider what impact they may have on how we live and work in California. See you next week; same page, same Blog for Part 2 of “New Year – New Laws”.