A belated Happy New Year!
And while we’re on the subject of 2019, here’s a quickie guide to some of California's new laws you’ll need to obey, or face the inevitable, often-costly consequences:
Plastic drinking straws are following in the steps of plastic bags — out the door. If you just have to have a plastic straw, you can ask your waiter for one, but because restaurant operators face up to $300 a year in fines, you may not get what you want.
As annoying as that ban may seem, it makes sense when you consider the “trash island” floating in the Pacific Ocean, which is mostly plastic stuff we toss out, has grown to twice the size of Texas.
Street vendors go retro with a law preventing cities and counties from an outright ban on sidewalk sales, but instead must establish licensing systems, which many communities already have in place.
All you vegetarians out there get a break when spending time in a healthcare facility, which now must, by law, offer plant-based meals as a menu option. Green Jell-O?
For folks starting their work careers, the state’s minimum wage is now $11 an hour for people working at companies with 25 or fewer employees, and up to $12 an hour for those working at companies with 26 or more employees. That should help a little with some of the cost-of-living disparities in California.
Pet stores will be barred from selling live dogs, cats or bunnies that come from breeders. The animals for sale must come from an animal shelter, and the store must post the name of the agency where it got the animal. This is a solid victory for animal-rights activists.
And here’s a win for local law enforcement, pedestrians and law-abiding motorists — repeat and first-time DUI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device to prevent a person who has been drinking alcohol from driving. The device must be installed for 12 to 48 months to restore a person’s driving privileges, but the driver will no longer face restrictions about where they can drive.
On the subject of local law enforcement, a new law will open police officer records, allowing inspection of an officer's record during investigations of police shootings, use of force, sexual misconduct, dishonesty or misconduct by an officer. Several local communities are familiar with this situation.
Bucking the federal trend, a new California law requires public utilities to draw up a plan to incorporate renewable energy resources, the goal being to generate 60 percent of the state's electricity from sources such as wind and solar by 2030, and 100 percent from climate-friendly resources by 2045. It’s a big job, but somebody has to do it.
The minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun in California increases from 18 to 21 years. Anyone under 21 wanting to buy a rifle or shotgun must do so before Sunday, Jan. 20, and pick up the firearm before the law is implemented on Feb. 1. This addresses the increase in mass shootings by teens.
A new law prohibits the California State Lands Commission from approving or renewing leases for the construction of pipelines and docks that could be used to increase the production of oil and natural gas in federal waters. More push-back in the California-vs.-feds squabble.
California's 2020 presidential primary has been moved up to the first Tuesday in March, which has the effect of adding more national influence in the presidential primaries. The political jockeying never ends.