California's new laws for 2019: What to know

- California is preparing to have new laws put in place. On Jan. 1, changes regarding the workplace, guns, policing and more go into effect. 

Here's a few to note:

New Workplace Laws for California in 2019

2019 is set to be a year of change for the workplace in California. Several laws will take effect January 1st, including SB 820 which bans so-called “secret settlements” and non-disclosure agreements involving employees in sexual misconduct cases. Under the law, the identity of the accused would be made public. The victim can choose to remain anonymous.

SB 1300 closes a loophole that allowed employers to avoid sexual harassment and discrimination laws by requiring workers to sign releases of liability as a condition of employment or in exchange for a bonus.

Both bills were signed by Governor Jerry Brown in the wake of the “Me Too” movement, which gained momentum in 2018 as several high profile celebrities spoke out about their experiences.

Also taking effect on the 1st is AB 1976, which requires employers to provide employees who are new mothers a private space other than a bathroom to pump. The law builds on a San Francisco law that took effect in the city in 2018.

New Gun Laws for California in 2019

Several new gun control laws are set to take effect in California in 2019.

Starting in February, the minimum age to buy a long gun will go up from 18 to 21. There are exceptions for licensed hunters, law enforcement officers and members of the military. The age restriction already applies to handguns.

Another new law initiates a lifetime firearms ban for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense. The legislation expands on an existing law which applies to people with felony convictions. The law takes effect January 1st.

A third law, also taking effect on the 1st, requires all gun stores to post specific warning signs detailing the risks and rules of handling guns.

New Policing Laws for California in 2019

In an effort to increase transparency in law enforcement, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1421, which allows public access to internal investigations of police shootings and other use of force cases, as well as records involving sexual assault by an officer.

A second measure, AB 748 doesn’t take effect until July. It will require body camera footage of police shootings and use of force cases to be released within 45 days, unless it would interfere with the investigation.

Both pieces of legislation come after several highly publicized use of force cases in California, including the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police back in March. The 22-year-old car break-in suspect was in the backyard of his grandmother’s home when two officers mistook his cellphone for a gun and opened fire, shooting Clark several times. Clark’s death sparked protests nationwide.

New Food/Drink Laws for California in 2019

Big changes are coming to California’s food industry in 2019.

Starting January 1st, full-service restaurants can only give out plastic straws when a customer requests them. Businesses that violate the new law could be fined up to $300. The law will not apply to fast food restaurants.

Also on the 1st, California restaurants that offer kids meals will be required to offer water or milk as the default drink option. The bill does not ban sugary drinks for children, but is meant to help families make healthier choices.

Another law ends criminal penalties for sidewalk vendors and requires cities and counties to issue them licesnes, just like any other business. Counties will also have the option to allow home cooks to sell their food. If the county the cook lives in opts in, they would then have to apply for a permit and go through an inspection process before they can sell their food.

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