New California Laws Taking Effect in 2014

Many new California laws will take effect on January 1, 2014. Some of the laws of interest to the general public are summarized below:

  • Minimum Wage Increases: Starting July 1, 2014, the minimum wage in California will rise to $9/hour. However, San Francisco has increased minimum wage to $10.74/hour, effective January 1, 2014. San Jose has also raised its minimum wage to $10.15/hour, effective January 1, 2014. Employers who fail to pay minimum wages may be subject to liquidated damages to the employee in addition to existing penalties.
  • Teen Drivers: SB194 prohibits drivers under 18 years of age from using an electronic wireless communication devices to write, send, or read a text message while driving, even if it is equipped with a hands-free device.
  • Bicycles: Passing Distance. Starting September 16, 2014, a driver that passes a bicyclist that is proceeding in the same direction must do so with no less than three feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicyclist. If it is not possible to pass with three feet of space, the driver must slow to a reasonable speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Drivers who fail to give three feet of space may be fined, whether or not a collision occurred.
  • Parking at Broken Meters OK: AB61 was signed into law, which prevents local municipalities from ticketing drivers who park at broken meters. Drivers may now park in a spot with a broken meter, but only up to the maximum amount of time allotted if the meter was in working order.
  • Expanded Paid Family Leave: California law is broadening the definition of “family” within the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program beginning July 1, 2014. Under existing law, employees may receive up to six weeks of wage replacement benefits to take time off to care for an ill child, spouse or domestic partner, parent, or to bond with a minor child. This will be expanded to include a seriously ill sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law.
  • Extended Statute of Limitations for Hit-And-Run Victims: The statute of limitations for hit-and-run drivers will be increased from three years to six years, making it easier for law enforcement agencies and victims to seek justice.
  • Undocumented Immigrants May Practice Law: The passage of AB1024 allows undocumented immigrants to practice law in California.
  • Transgender Students: Under AB1266, also known as the California Bathroom Bill, transgender students in public schools may choose which restrooms they use and whether they participate in boy or girl sports.
  • Increased Penalty for Unsafe Gun Storage: AB231 amends California gun storage laws to increase penalties for unauthorized use of unsecured guns. If you keep a loaded firearm within any premises under your custody or control, and a person under 18 obtains it and uses it, resulting in injury or death, or carries it to a public place, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor or felony unless you stored the firearm in a locked container or locked the firearm with a locking device.
  • Increased Safeguards/Restrictions on Gun Purchases: Governor Brown signed several bills regarding the purchase of guns and gun-related items. AB48 makes it illegal to purchase parts necessary to convert guns into assault-style weapons and requires people selling or transferring ammunition to record the identification of the buyer and report the sale to the state Department of Justice. SB683 requires people who buy rifles and shotguns to first pass a written firearm safety test and obtain a certificate. AB1131 extends from six months to five years the period during which a person who threatens violence is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.
  • Anti-Bullying Law: AB256 amends California Education Code section 48900, which identifies grounds for suspension and expulsion, including bullying. The new law changes section 48900(r)(2)(A) by expanding the definition of bullying to include off-campus conduct. A student may be subject to discipline for off-campus electronic conduct if it is related to school activity or attendance and causes or is reasonably likely to cause a substantial disruption to school activity.
  • Resentencing for Teen Offenders: A new California law allows inmates sentenced when they were minors to ask judges to reconsider their terms after they serve at least 15 years in prison. California has more than 300 inmates serving life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed when they were minors. The new law makes them eligible for parole. This law was authored by state Senator Leland, Yee, of San Francisco.
  • Increased Protection for Elders: AB140 increases protection for elders who are exploited by “undue influence.” The definition of undue influence under current California law has not been revised since 1872. The new definition defines undue influence as excessive persuasion that causes an elder to act or refrain from acting that results in inequity. The modern definition offers greater protection because it allows a court to consider the vulnerability of the victim, the influencer’s apparent authority, the use of manipulative and unfair tactics, and whether an inequitable economic consequence resulted.
  • Increased BART fare: Not a law, but BART fares will go up starting January 1, 2014. See the BART 2014 Fare Chart.
  • A full list of all new laws may be found here.