Santa Paula Times

New laws: Mattress recycling fee, minimum wage, ‘fracking’ all focus of bills

January 08, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

You might want to buy that new mattress now before a new law kicks in that would add a recycling fee to the purchase price, just one of the 800 new laws on the books as of January 1, 2014.

It could have been worse: in all, there were 896 bills that were sent to Gov. Jerry Brown to be signed into law but he vetoed 96 of them.

Some laws are weighty such as raising the minimum wage and regulations that apply to “fracking” by oil drillers, while others affect only a handful of lawbreakers or won’t even register with the general public. Several center on safety measures for limousines and to protect against electronic bullying while others center on immigration issues.

One of the bills that will impact almost everybody is the AB 10, which raises California’s $8 hourly minimum wage to $9 per hour effective July 1. A second increase, to $10 per hour, will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Domestic workers, specifically those know as “companions” or “attendants” will receive overtime bonuses depending on certain circumstances noted in AB 241. 

Protection against retaliation is the purpose of AB 263, which expands safeguards for employees who file complaints under the labor code alleging such violations as wage theft and adds a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Paid family leave is being expanded July 1 under SB 770 to include time off for the care of a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling or parent-in-law. Workers may receive partial wage-replace benefits under an employee-paid account in the state disability insurance program. Employers do not have to hold open the position of a worker who takes such leave. 

Veterans and members of the military now have their status added to the list of categories protected from employment discrimination under AB 556.

An employer that reports or threatens to report an employee’s immigration status because a worker complained about employment issues can have their business license suspended or revoked. Under AB 263 it can mean disbarment of attorneys who take the same action against witnesses or parties to a lawsuit.

SB 400 prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking while also requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations to help them protect their safety.

A new law that will take affect July 1 is AB 218, which prohibits a state or local agency from asking a job applicant to disclose information about a criminal conviction until after it is determined that the applicant meets minimum employment qualifications.  

“Fracking” won’t be as secretive with SB 4, which establishes the state’s first specific regulations governing hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation techniques used by the oil industry that involve the injection of chemicals into the ground to increase the flow of hydrocarbons from subsurface rocks. The law requires reporting of chemicals used, public disclosure of where such activity is taking place, notification of neighboring property owners and before-and-after monitoring of groundwater to test for potential contamination. Although the law won’t officially take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, state regulators issued emergency regulations that put many of its provisions in place effective January 1, 2014.

AB 60 requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to those living in the country illegally if they can prove their identity and California residency and meet all other licensing requirements, such as passing written and behind-the-wheel tests. The card, expected to be issued starting in the fall, will be marked to indicate it is unacceptable for federal purposes such as airport identity checks and verification of legal work status. 

Under AB 1371 starting September 16 motorists will have to give bicyclists traveling in the same direction a 3-foot-passing zone; if not possible the driver must slow their speed. Bummer news for teen drivers as SB 194 bars child drivers from using a wireless device to read, write or send text messages while driving, even if the devices are hands-free.

Under AB 443 family members will still be able to transfer vehicle ownership to each other without sales taxes but such transfers may not take place until parking and toll violation fines and penalties are paid by the person making the transfer.

SB 109 prohibits anyone from operating a modified or extended limousine unless it has at least two rear push-out windows and two rear side doors that may be opened manually.

Get that new mattress by July 1: SB 254 establishes an industry-operated mattress recycling program that will be funded by a recycling charge to be levied on the sale of new mattresses.

Registering to vote just got easier with SB 44 that requires the websites of all state agencies to have a link to the secretary of state’s voter registration page, which includes a form that allows people to complete voter-registration forms online. As a safeguard, the identity, age, address and citizenship status of the applicant is crosschecked with the DMV’s drivers’ license database to authenticate the application.

A relief for parents is AB 256 that allows schools to expel students for electronic bullying, including that done off campus.

SB 145, a law sponsored by Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten targets child pornographers by increasing the maximum prison sentence to five years from three years for the worst offenders. Fitting into that category for example would be pornographers with extensive collections of child pornography or those in possession of material with images of children forced to endure sexual sadism or masochism.

It could be very expensive for those who think it’s funny to call in false emergency reports known as “SWATting” as SB 333 now holds them liable for the cost of the emergency response.

AB 231 makes negligently storing a loaded firearm where a child could access it a misdemeanor, and AB 1131 increases to five years from six months the period in which people are prohibited from possessing a firearm if they have communicated to a licensed psychotherapist a threat of physical violence to another. The psychotherapist must report the threat.

There’s a long lead-time on banning lead ammunition used by hunters, but AB 711 will take effect January 1, 2019.