Have you ever had that sneaky suspicion that someone was out to get you? Maybe you think you saw someone duck behind a tree when you turned around? Maybe your crazy neighbor across the street with the tin foil hat knows something you don’t? Well, as it turns out, there is someone out there with fingers in everything you do – your friendly neighborhood California Legislature. Yep, the California Legislature was working hard all last year to create a new batch of laws for 2014 covering everything from elder abuse to protective orders to minimum wage increases to regulating water treatment devices. Following is a summary of just a few of the over 100 new laws that became effective January 1, 2014.
AB-10: Minimum Wage. Lately, there have been a number of rally’s to increase the minimum wage. The problem is if the employer is forced to raise a wage, doesn’t that mean they’re going to need to cut some personnel to maintain their bottom line? Anyway, under this bill, existing law provides for a minimum wage of $8. This bill would change Labor Code 1182.12 to require that the minimum wage be increased to not less than $9 by July 1, 2014 and then not less than $10 by January 12016. Not a whole lot of a change but every penny helps.
AB-16: Domestic Violence. Existing law under Penal Code 273.5 made it a crime to inflict “corporal injury” primarily on persons like a spouse. What this bill does is includes a persons fiancé or someone you were or are dating. This bill caught my attention because in addition to making it a crime for beating up a spouse to be, it had the phrase “corporal injury.” After a little digging I found that the concept of corporal injury is any injury to the body of the person whether internal or external. The best California case on the books dealing with this concept can be found in People v. Jackson, 77 Cal.App.4th 574, 91 Cal.Rptr.2d 805 (2000).
AB-119: Water Treatment Devices. Actually this one was a little silly. I’m guessing there were people and companies going around saying they sold water treatment devices that didn’t actually treat water. Imagine that?! To combat that, the California Legislature created this bill to change Business & Professions Code 17577.2 prohibiting someone from claiming a device treats water (for drinking) unless it has been first certified by the State Department of Public Health that the device, in fact, treats and cleans water for drinking – which all seems redundant but I guess it closes a significant loophole.
AB-246: Open Meetings. Sometimes you gotta wonder why some bills are passed. This bill notes that under the Brown Act, public meetings must be open to the public. Apparently that was a problem in some cases and the politicians wanted some privacy from prying public eyes. This bill alters Government Code 54957 and allows closed sessions with the Attorney General, the District Attorney, county counsel, sheriff, chief of police and related officials where there is a threat to security to services, buildings, or to the public. My question is – when is there NOT a threat to security to the public?! Of all the bills, I’m thinking this one is very suspect and open to abuse.
AB-267: Lawyer Referral Service-Client Privilege. Here’s another example of a bill that makes you scratch your head and wonder why it was created. Seems there is a class of people who don’t want anyone to know they are looking to hire an attorney. So, the legislature got together to change Evidence Code 912 to prevent the disclosure of the fact that a person consulted with an attorney referral service to hire an attorney. Clearly, I’m missing something here. You need an attorney but don’t want anyone to know your looking for an attorney. Huh. Yeah, I’m stumped on this one.
AB-329: Online Ticket Buying. Have you ever heard about a concert coming up and the day tickets were to be sold found out that they were sold out in under 3 minutes? 40,000 tickets in under 3 minutes?! How is that even possible??!?! Turns out there are people out in Internet Land who employ software programs called Bots to buy blocks of tickets and then resell them at higher prices. This bill alters Business & Professions Code 22505.5 to make it a crime to use a Bot to circumvent the security on a ticket seller’s website to buy whole blocks of tickets. Finally, a bill to help we the people save a little coin.
AB-381: Undue Influence and Elder Abuse. Few things in life boil my blood quicker than hearing about someone stealing money from an old person. Under existing law, persons found exercising undue influence to acquire monies from elderly persons were required to pay twice the value of the property. This bill seems to close a loophole by altering Probate Code 859 and requiring courts order offending parties to also pay “reasonable” attorney fees and costs for each offense.
And there you have it; seven new bills hot off the press and ready to be enacted for the new year. If you’d like to see a list of all the laws added for 2014, take a look at New California Laws for 2014 and you have a Happy rest of the New Year!