From Gig Worker Protections to a Rent Increase Cap: California's New State Laws

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The state Capitol in Sacramento.  (Craig Miller/KQED)

New year. New laws. Hundreds of them, ranging from a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of new fur products, to measures aimed at easing the state's extreme housing crunch and protecting private information online.

Here are some highlights of the new laws taking effect in California in 2020:

Housing

Stories about CA's new rent cap law

Rent Increase Cap: AB 1482 will limit annual rent increases by 5% plus inflation and require that landlords provide a "just cause" when evicting tenants who have been renting for a year or more.

Housing Crisis Act of 2019: Aimed at promoting higher density, SB 330 will prohibit local governments from down-zoning by either placing a moratorium on development or lowering the number of housing units permitted. It will also speed up the permitting process for development. The provision sunsets after five years.

Streamlining In-Law Units: AB 68 will make it easier for property owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units, commonly known as in-law units or granny flats.

Health

Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants: SB 104 will allow some undocumented young adults to receive health insurance through the state's Medicaid program. The law is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Kaiser Transparency: SB 343 will require Kaiser Permanente to share more information on revenue and expenses at its facilities.

Workplace

Stories about AB 5

Independent Worker Status: AB 5 aims to extend benefits and labor protections to workers in California’s “gig economy” by requiring companies to reclassify some workers as employees rather than independent contractors. Critics say the law could hurt workers outside of the gig economy, such as truck drivers and freelance reporters.

Hairstyle Discrimination: SB 188 bans racial discrimination in schools and workplaces for a person's natural hairstyle. It's the first law of its kind in the U.S.

Sexual Harassment Training: SB 1343, signed in 2018, requires that companies with at least five employees provide sexual harassment training to all employees.

Lactation Rooms: SB 142 expands protections for nursing mothers at work and requires employers to provide private lactation spaces that are not bathrooms.

Policing

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Rape Kit Testing: SB 22 requires prompt testing of newly collected rape kits. Under the measure, new rape kits must be submitted for testing within 20 days and tested with 120 days.

Use of Force: SB 230 requires agencies to maintain a policy providing guidelines on the use of force. That policy must also include de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to force, in addition to specific guidelines for when deadly force can be used.

Facial Recognition: AB 1215 places a three-year ban on the use of facial recognition technology on body cameras by the state and local law enforcement agencies.

Education

Charter Schools: AB 1505 overhauls how the state authorizes charter schools. It will allow school districts to consider the impact to the community and the neighborhood schools when reviewing applications for new or expanded charter schools. It also requires charter school teachers to be credentialed.

Suspensions: SB 419 bans public and charter schools from suspending students in grades 4-8 for disruptive behavior. Existing law already prohibited suspending students in kindergarten and grades 1-3 for such behavior.

Privacy

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Data Privacy Online: AB 325, known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, regulates data collection by companies like Facebook and Google. The measure aims to give Californians more control over their data by allowing them to see what personal information is being collected and prevent the sale of it.

Wildfires

Wildfire Warning Center: SB 209 establishes a wildfire warning center to better predict weather conditions and share information around the state.

Power Shutoffs: SB 167 requires that investor-owned utilities draft plans to lessen the negative effects of preemptive power outages aimed at preventing electric equipment from sparking fires.

Emergency Plans: SB 160 mandates that counties include “cultural competence” into emergency plans. It's partially a response to elderly and non-English-speaking residents who missed emergency alerts during the state's recent wildfires.

Criminal Justice

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Child Sexual Abuse: AB 218 extends the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault victims, allowing adults to report their abuse up until the age of 40.

Domestic Violence: SB 273 extends the statute of limitations for domestic violence to 5 years.

Private Prisons: AB 32 prohibits the state from entering into or renewing contracts with for-profit prison companies. The measure also phases out private facilities by 2028.

Animal Welfare

Fur Ban: AB 44 prohibits the sale and production of new fur products in California. The law is the first of its kind in the nation.

Circus Animals: SB 313 bans the use of wild animals in circus acts, including bears, elephants, tigers and monkeys.

Environment

Recycling Centers: AB 54 will bring temporary relief to cities feeling the bite from the sudden closure of recycling centers across the state. The measure provides $10 million for recycling centers and gives grocers a reprieve from paying some recycling fees.

Smoking in Parks: SB 8 prohibits smoking at state parks and beaches.

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