This past year, residents saw change on a number of fronts, from defining the term “lane-splitting” to recreational marijuana legalization. With the clock ticking closer to the end of the year, here’s a look at a few of the new laws coming into effect in 2018.
Incremental minimum wage increase continues
On Jan. 1, Californians can expect the annual minimum wage increase; for employers with 25 or fewer employees, hourly minimum wage will rise from $10 to $10.50 while employers with 26 or more employees will raise wages from $10.50 to $11 per hour.
The bill, SB 3, aims to increase minimum wage in increments to a total of $15 per hour by 2023.
Recreational marijuana sales legalized
Recreational marijuana will be available for purchase on Jan. 1. State residents ages 21 and over can expect to buy up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana or 0.28 ounces (eight grams) of concentrates legally.
Prop 64, originally approved in 2016, legalized recreational marijuana but prohibited its sale until 2018.
Purchases are only legal from registered businesses.
On a related note, SB 65 prohibits smoking or ingesting marijuana while in a car, whether as a driver or passenger.
The Gender Recognition Act
People seeking official recognition or a birth certificate for their changed gender will be able to do so without having undergone gender transition treatment. The change, however, will not take place until September.
Currently, those who have undergone the treatment are allowed to seek a new birth certificate or official recognition by California law. By 2019, anyone applying or renewing a state license can identify as male, female or nonbinary.
Approved by California Governor Jerry Brown in October, AB 168 prohibits employers from seeking past salary information—including “compensation and benefits”—from job applicants. However, salary information available through the California Public Records Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act is considered fair game and may be used by employers. Job applicants can also voluntarily share the information.
If requested, an employer must share the pay scale for the position the applicant is vying for.
As part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer is prohibited from asking a job applicant to disclose prior criminal convictions. The new bill (AB 1008) is an addendum that prohibits employers with five or more employees from discriminating against applicants by requesting that information prior to a conditional job offer.
According to the California Legislative website, this bill—also known as “Ban the Box”—is, in part, due to the fact that, “Roughly seven million Californians, or nearly one in three adults, have an arrest or conviction record that can significantly undermine their efforts to obtain gainful employment.”
Conviction history cannot be considered until the applicant has received a “conditional offer,” at which point the employer is allowed to conduct a criminal background check. If rejected, the applicant must receive a written notice with adequate explanation. Then, he or she has five business days to dispute the statement and come up with proper evidence for employer consideration.
Feminine hygiene for low-income students
AB 10 will require public schools with grades six through 12 that have a certain percentage of low-income students to provide feminine hygiene products—defined as tampons and sanitary napkins—in 50 percent of bathrooms at each specific school. The bill defines the low-income student percentage as “40 percent pupil poverty threshold.”
Costs for the feminine hygiene products may be reimbursed by the state.
Community colleges waive first-year fees for qualifying students
Approved in October, AB19 establishes the California College Promise, in which funding will be distributed among chosen California community colleges to waive fees for qualifying students. These students must be first-time students enrolled in 12 or more units; they must also submit either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the California Dream Act application.