With a flurry of new laws ready to take effect, this publication took a look at a handful of the more notable ones, which take on several aspects of criminal justice, health services and firearms.
WALKING A FINE LINE
Before Assembly Bill 2147 was signed into law in September, pedestrians with the audacity to cross the street where no crosswalk existed had the full force of the law come down upon them in the form of a moving violation and a roughly $250 fine. But after Jan. 1, that heinous act will be decriminalized, thanks to the so-called Freedom to Walk act.
With jaywalkers now free to terrorize society at large, crossing wherever they see fit, what’s next? Dogs and cats living together?
On a more serious note, Senate Bill 357 decriminalizes loitering for the purposes of prostitution, a charge that has historically come down harder on Black women in urban areas. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Black adults make up 50% of the arrests for this crime in Los Angeles, despite being just under 9% of the City’s population.
The new law also allows those convicted of the offense to clear it from their record.
Assembly Bill 1740 tightens the screws on recyclers that purchase catalytic converters by requiring them to record the year, make, model of the vehicle from whence the devices come.
It would also prohibit the recyclers from receiving catalytic converters from anyone that is not a commercial enterprise, or the vehicle’s owner.
Assembly Bill 1008 requires state prisons and jails to provide free phone calls to its inmates, and prohibits the facilities from profiting from them.
Assembly Bill 960 makes it easier for prison inmates to petition for compassionate release when facing a terminal illness if they don’t pose a danger to public safety.
In a first for the U.S., Assembly Bill 2799 limits a court’s ability to use song lyrics in criminal proceedings, saying it falls under the umbrella of creative expression.
Supporters say that the law protects rap, hip-hop and other artists whose lyrics venture into violence or describe criminal behavior.
The new law sets fairly high standards in which prosecutors can use lyrics.
AB 2799 stems from the racketeering conviction earlier this year of rapper Young Thug, where prosecutors used his song lyrics as evidence against him.
Under Assembly Bill 2746, people who fail to appear in court for unpaid traffic tickets will no longer face having their drivers licenses suspended. The law also reduces the penalty for driving without a license from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Senate Bill 1472 adds participating in a sideshow and speeding more than 100 miles per hour to the list of crimes that constitute “gross negligence.”
Written to help some defendants avoid deportation, Assembly Bill 2195 gives prosecutors the discretion to charge some drug offenses as a public nuisance.
Assembly Bill 1641 requires that sexually violent predators on conditional release or on outpatient status to be monitored by a GPS until unconditionally discharged from their requirements.
Assembly Bill 1909 makes several changes to traffic laws regarding bicycles.
This includes a requirement for drivers to change lanes when passing bikes, when feasible. It also removes several prohibitions keeping e-bikes off of bicycle paths, equestrian trails and hiking trails, while still allowing local authorities to prohibit them on some trails.
Senate Bill 731 vastly expands the number of people eligible to have their criminal record cleared, excluding only sex offenders.
Lawmakers also took aim at so-called ghost guns with Assembly Bill 1621, which halts the sale of gun parts and kits—called “precursors”—until those items are regulated by the federal government.
Assembly Bill 2156 limits the making of 3D printed guns to licensed manufacturers.
In addition to voters overwhelmingly approving Proposition 1 in November, enshrining in the state’s Constitution a woman’s access to abortion, state lawmakers further gave support with a package of new laws.
• Assembly Bill 2223 ensures that women cannot be held criminally or civilly liable for miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero.
• Assembly Bill 2091 prohibits healthcare providers from releasing medical information of women who come from out of state to seek abortion care.
• Assembly Bill 1242 prohibits law enforcement and other entities from cooperating with out-of-state entities in investigations involving lawful abortions in California.
• Senate Bill 523 requires health plans to cover certain over-the-counter birth control without cost sharing, and prohibits employment-related discrimination based on reproductive health decisions.
• Senate Bill 1375 calls for expanded training for nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives to perform abortion care by aspiration techniques.
In a win for parents supporting their minor children seeking gender-affirming care in California, Senate Bill 107 prevents the State from participating in the prosecution of parents coming from a state where such care has been criminalized.
This new law stems in part from a Texas case in which that state’s Department of Family and Protective Services issued a directive that such care is tantamount to child abuse, and is grounds for them to lose custody.
Assembly Bill 1287 targets the so-called “Pink Tax,” in which retailers and other businesses charge women more than men for the same products and services.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, women often pay as much as 7% higher than men. This law ends that practice, with violators subject to civil penalties.
The new year also brings four new holidays. Juneteenth on June 19 is now law under Assembly Bill 1655. The second new moon following the winter solstice is now officially Lunar New Year thanks to Assembly Bill 2596. Genocide Remembrance Day now falls on April 24 under Assembly Bill 1801, and Assembly Bill 1741 makes Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I’LL TAKE ONE OF EVERYTHING
In a win for street vendors—and for foodies always looking to try something new and exciting—Senate Bill 972 establishes a new category for the mobile businesses called Compact Mobile Food Operation.
These can be push-carts, stands or displays with or without wheels, and can include pedal-driven carts and wagons. The vendors must meet certain cleanliness standards.
NO MORE FUR
Animal rights activists are hailing Assembly Bill 44, which prohibits the sale and manufacture of animal fur clothing statewide.
PAY-NOW SURELY I CAN AFFORD MY RENT
The state’s minimum wage is going up to $15.50 per hour under Senate Bill 3, which was signed into law in 2016 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.