New California Laws to Expect Starting New Year’s Day

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The New Year is just around the corner , bringing with it brand new city and state laws that will go into effect New Year’s Day. Among the new set of laws are a new minimum wage, driving restrictions and even some additions to the use of brew bikes.

Below is a list of new city and state ordinances beginning January 1, 2016:

Non-driving laws:

Minimum Wage (MW-2014): Despite the on-going debate for a $15 minimum wage, California will be raising worker’s wages to $10 per hour. The new wage has been expected since MW-2014 was passed, raising the wage up to $9 from $8 in 2014. To see exactly what the new wage means for you and who it affects, visit

Vaccines (SB 277): The law goes into effect beginning New Year’s Day, but schools won’t begin vetting students for vaccination shots until July, just before the 2016-2017 school year. The bill requires full vaccination for most children to enroll in schools.

Privacy Laws (SB 178): The new senate bill requires law enforcement to obtain search warrants before they can gain seize your emails, text messages, internet search history and other digital data.

Ballot Fee Hike (AB 1100): Filling fees for proposed ballot initiative or referendum will see a huge increase in the new year. AB 1100 will increase the fee from $200 to $2,000.

Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775): The bill enacts the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act, requiring licensed facilities offering pregnancy-related services to post signs advertising the free or low-cost access of family planning services, prenatal care and abortion.

New Laws Regarding Schools: 

Gun Laws (SB 707): Senate Bill 707 prohibits concealed firearms from college campuses and K-12 schools.

Sex Education (AB 329): Under the AB 329, sex education will no longer be voluntary for students unless a parent seeks an opt-out for their child. The bill also updates curriculum to include more information about HIV and gender identity.

Yes Means Yes (SB 695): The bill makes school districts that require health classes for student graduation, teach the standard of consensual sex between partners.

Exit Exams (SB 172): High school students will no longer be required to take the long-standing high school exit exam to graduate through the 2017-2018 school year. The bill will also requires the State Department of Education to retroactively grant diplomas to students who finished high school without completing the exam beginning with the 2003-2004 school year.

Laws affecting motorists, cyclists and public safety:

Driving under the influence (SB 61): The new law extends the existing Ignition Interlock Device (IID) project to July 1, 2017. The project requires a person convicted of a DUI to install an IID for five months on first offense, one year on second offense, two years on third offense and three years on a forth or subsequent offense.

The law that was initially set to end January 1, 2016, will affect Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties.

Earbuds or headsets (SB 491): This law will prevent drivers from wearing headsets, earplugs or earphones in or over both ears while operating a vehicle or bicycle. It does not, however, apply to those using safety earplugs or headsets while operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment and waste equipment.

Pedal-Powered Vehicles (SB 530): If authorized by a city ordinance, Sacramento brew bikes riders may soon be able to drink alcohol while pedaling through Midtown. The law also expands the definition of a pedicab to include brew bikes, or any four-wheel vehicle seating eight or more and cannot travel faster than 15 mile per hour.

Electrically motorized skateboards (AB 604): If you got one of those new hoverboard scooters, or now-defined “electrically motorized skateboards”, during the holidays, you might not want to get on it before reading up on the new laws surrounding the boards.

Beginning New Year’s Day, the law will restrict use of the boards in public facilities and require them to be operated with safety equipment (i.e. helmets). In addition, riders must be 16 years or older to operate them, wear equipment to help with visibility at night and travel less than 35 miles per hour. It is also illegal to ride or operate one while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Violating the law could cost you a fine up to $250.

Electric Bicycles (AB 1096): There’s a new definition of electric bicycles added to the California Vehicle Code — “a bicycle with fully operational pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.” Riders will be able to use roads similar to those used by bicyclists, while providing a measure of local control safety on specific paths or public trails.

New Motor Voter Program (AB 1461): Qualified people who apply for a driver’s license, ID card or submit a change of address to the DMV will automatically be registered to vote.

According to the DMV, the law will require the department to implement the act no later than one year after the Secretary of State certifies that:

  1. The state has a statewide voter registration database that complies with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (52 U.S.C. Section 20901 et seq.).
  2. The Legislature has appropriated the funds necessary for the Secretary of State and DMV to implement and maintain the program.
  3. The Secretary of State has adopted regulations to implement the law.

Yellow Alert (AB 8): The new alert system will be established for specific hit-and-run incidents that result in serious injury or death, according to the California Highway Patrol. Much like AMBER alerts, the CHP and requesting law enforcement agencies will determine whether the accident meets the requirement for the alert.

The criteria in the new law include availability of information about the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle and whether releasing the information will be helpful.

Silver Alerts (AB 643): The alert system has been modified to allow the notification to be communicated on Changeable Message Signs (CMS) when a vehicle is involved in the missing person incident.

Highway Lane Use (AB 208): All slow-moving passenger vehicles are required to pull over safely to let traffic pass. The legal requirement now adds bicycles to the list of vehicles that must use the next available turnout or other area to let backed-up traffic pass by.

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