Bills that crossed Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in 2013 encompassed policy topics from bullets to bike safety. In some cases Brown signed legislation that enshrined key Democratic goals, reflecting the strength of robust Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
A few of those bills, including one hiking the state minimum wage and one requiring cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists, won’t take effect for a few months. But that still leaves plenty of substantial measures that become operative state law today. Here’s a look at some highlights.
Playing off of the legal case of Sergio Garcia, who was brought to California illegally as a child and later passed the state’s bar exam on his first try, AB 1024 allows undocumented immigrants who pass the California bar to practice law.
The sole survivor of a trio of scope-of-practice bills, SB 493 expands what pharmacists can do to include administering vaccines, performing patient assessments and ordering toxicity tests, among other functions.
With schools at work implementing the national Common Core standards, AB 484 nixes the existing Standardized Testing and Reporting assessments in favor of tests aligned with the new guidelines. Students across the state will take the incoming Common Core-related tests by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, and the scores will be used to evaluate schools the following year.
Dubbed the “Domestic Worker Bill of Rights” by supporters, AB 241 entitles housekeepers, nannies and other in-home laborers to overtime pay. The final version contains fewer worker guarantees than the original, which offered such protections as meal breaks.
Responding to complaints that California’s worker’s compensation system pays benefits to out-of-state athletes, AB 1309 requires pro athletes to have spent a minimum chunk of their career playing for California teams if they want to submit a claim to the state’s fund.
Passed in 2011, AB 809 allows the Department of Justice to retain data about rifle and shotgun purchases; until now, the agency has been able to hold onto information only about handgun transactions. The law is intended to let cops know what they’ll be up against and to bolster a program that confiscates guns from people barred from owning them, such as the dangerously mentally ill and convicted criminals.
Intended to shore up safeguards against dangerous people buying guns, SB 127 requires a therapist told of “a serious threat of physical violence” to quickly tell authorities, and requires the authorities to notify the Department of Justice within 24 hours.
Crime and punishment/public safety
Responding to a pair of deadly limousine fires in 2013, SB 109 requires limo drivers to instruct passengers on safety features. Other provisions requiring limos to have at least two doors and at least one push-out window that functions as a safety exit kick in July of 2015 or 2016, depending on whether the car is a new model or an old one that needs to be retrofitted.
Paroled sex offenders may think twice before removing court-ordered tracking devices: under SB 57, severing those GPS trackers will mean another 180 days of incarceration.
Hands-free doesn’t mean scot-free: SB 194 prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using their cellphones to compose or read text messages, even if the teens are using a voice-activated feature.
HOV, just for me
Low-emission and zero-emission car owners, rejoice: You can drive in the HOV lane, even if you’re the only one in the car, through 2019 thanks to AB 266 and SB 286.
Trying to figure out how to dispose of that old mattress? SB 254 creates a mattress recycling program, funded by a fee on buying mattresses (one Republican opponent dubbed it a “sleep tax”). An industry group must convene and build the program by July 1, 2015.
Smaller craft distilleries will now have more of an incentive to offer liquor tasting events: starting in 2014, AB 933 allows them to charge for the privilege of sampling their product.
Going into effect a few years after it was passed, 2009’s SB 407 requires homeowners doing renovations to homes built before 1994 to install water-efficient toilets and faucets.