Here Are the New California Laws Going Into Effect in 2020

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January 1st, 2020 isn't just the beginning of a new year (and new decade), it also marks the day when a series of new laws go into effect for California residents.

Hundreds of new laws have been passed by lawmakers this year that address a wide-range of issues, including limits on how much interest finance companies can charge, a can on increasing rents, hairstyle protections and even the end of elephants performing in circus shows.

Take a look at some of the new laws going into effect below:

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AB 317 - Department of Motor Vehicles: appointments: unlawful sale

The new law makes it illegal for anyone to sell or offer for sale, a DMV appointment.

SB 957 - Vehicles: high-occupancy vehicle lanes

The law will allow certain types of used vehicles that were previously issued a green or white clean air vehicle decal to receive another decal, which allows access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes until Jan. 1, 2024. Vehicle owners can only qualify if they have an income 80% or less than the statewide median income.

SB 485 - Driving privilege: suspension or delay

The law makes it so courts will no longer have the authority to revoke, restrict or order the DMV to delay the driving privilege of a person convicted of prostitution, vandalism or other non-driving offenses since SB 485 was approved.

AB 1614 -Vehicles: license plate pilot program

The law extends a pilot program to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and use of alternatives to license plates and registration cards until Jan 1, 2021. The law also assists those who are with

SB 267 - Driver’s licenses: United States Foreign Service

The makes it so California residents who are enrolled in the U.S. Foreign Service will have more time to renew their drivers licenses for the period of their service and up to 30 days after returning to California.

AB 2115 - Vehicles: passing and overtaking: waste service vehicles

Drivers who are approaching or passing a stopped waste service vehicle will need to make a lane change and pass at a safe distance, according to AB 2115.

AB 544 -Vehicles: high-occupancy vehicle lanes

The law creates a new program that grants low-emission vehicles and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to HOV lanes for another four years, regardless of how many people are inside the vehicle. Drivers will receive orange decals in 2020 that grant access to HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2024.

Criminal Justice

AB 12 - Firearms: gun violence restraining orders

Employers, coworkers and teachers have been added to the list of people who can petition a judge to confiscate someone's weapons if they believe that person poses a threat. AB 12 updates existing laws, which already allows police, immediate family members, and roommates to request a restraining order.

SB 439 - Jurisdiction of the juvenile court

Children under 12 years old who have committed a crime will be released to their parents or legal guardian. The law does not apply to minors who commit violent crimes, such as murder, rape, or great bodily harm.

AB 32 - Detention facilities: private, for-profit administration services

California will no longer be allowed to keep prisoners in private, for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers. Contracts with private prisons can no longer be renewed started on Jan. 1, 2028.

AB 218 - Damages: childhood sexual assault: statute of limitations

Sexual abuse victims will now have the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit up until the age of 40, or five years from discovery of the abuse. The law also suspends the statue of limitations for three years, meaning victims of all ages have time to bring lawsuits if they choose.

AB 602 - Depiction of individual using digital or electronic technology: sexually explicit material: cause of action

Deepfakes have spread like wildfire in recent years with many online porn sites banning them from their websites. The new law will require consent from a person before their likeness can be added to a "deepfake." The law also allows people who had their likeness used in "deepfake" porns more opportunities to sue in civil courts.

SB 273 - Domestic violence statute of limitations

The law extends the amount of time domestic violence victims will have to report domestic violence to law enforcement from one year to five years. The change applies to domestic violence that occurs on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

The law also requires law enforcement officers to undergo more training on de-escalation techniques and interviewing victims of domestic abuse.

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Economy and Employment

AB 5 - Worker status: employees and independent contractors

The law reclassified some independent contractors as employees in an attempt to provide new protections and benefits for gig-economy workers. However, the ride-sharing service Uber has stated they will not adhere to the change.

SB 3 - Minimum wage: in-home supportive services: paid sick days

The law raises the state's minimum wage to $13 an hour for workplaces with more than 26 employees and to $12 for employers with fewer than 26 employees. The law is part of an incremental increase of the minimum wage, which is scheduled to reach $15 in 2023.

AB 9 - Employment discrimination

The law extends the amount of time employees will have to file complaints about discrimination, harassment, or retaliation with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing from one year to three.

SB 142 - Protection for nursing mothers

Beginning Jan. 1, employers will have to provide a clean and safe lactation room for breastfeeding mothers. Companies will also have to provide access to a sink and a refrigerator in close proximity to the employee's workspace. Employers must also provide breaks specifically for nursing.

SB 188 - Hairstyle discrimination

California is the first state in the nation to pass protections for employees based on hairstyles, such as afros, braids, twists and locks.

SB 1343 - Sexual harassment training

Companies with five or more employees will now be required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training within six months of hiring a new employee.

AB 51 - Arbitration agreements

The law bans certain types of mandatory arbitration agreements between employers and applicants.

SB 83 - Extending paid leave

Employees who are taking care of a seriously ill family member or are caring for a new child will now have eight weeks of paid leave available, beginning on July 1, 2020.



SB 8 - State parks: state beaches: smoking ban

No more lighting up at California state beaches or parks. Violators will be fined $25. It's also now illegal for people to toss their cigarette or cigar on a state beach.

SB 313 - Animals: prohibition on use in circuses

The only animals that will be allowed to perform in circus acts in California will include dogs, cats and domesticated horses. Exotic animals, such as elephants, will no longer be allowed.

SB 1249 - Animal testing on cosmetics

Cosmetic companies that test their wares on animals will no longer be welcome in California. The law bans the import and sale of cosmetic products that include ingredients tested on animals.


SB 419 - Pupil discipline: suspensions: willful defiance

Schools will no longer be allowed to suspend students for "willful defiance" or acting up in class. Students will be suspended for violence or for bringing a weapon or drugs to school.

SB 354 - California DREAM Loan Program: graduate degree programs

Undocumented young men and women who were brought to the U.S. as children can apply for state-funded grants to go to schools.



AB 1482 - Tenant Protection Act of 2019: tenancy: rent caps

The law is in response to the sky-rocketing costs of housing across California, capping rents at 5% each year, plus inflation for the next decade. The law does not apply to properties that have been built within the last 15 years. Landlords will also be required to show just cause for any evictions.

SB 652 - Entry doors: display of religious items: prohibitions

The law prevents property owners from stopping the display of religious items on a door or door frame of a dwelling.

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AB 539 - California Financing Law: consumer loans: charges

The new law caps the amount companies can charge for interest rates at 36% above the U.S. Federal Reserve's main interest rate on loans between $2,500 and $10,000.

SB 30 - Domestic partnership law

Heterosexual couples now have an alternative to marriage. The law expands the definition of a domestic partner from same-sex couples to heterosexual couples as well, which will allow co-habitating partners avoid the federal "marriage penalty."

AB 577 - Health care coverage: maternal mental health

Medi-Cal patients will see expanded maternal mental health coverage, increasing from 60 days to one year.

Photos: Getty Images

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