Jim Porter: 898 new laws for California in 2017 (opinion)
January 14, 2017
As usual, our California Legislature has been busy passing new laws – 898 for 2017 (Governor Jerry vetoed 159 other bills). I'll be cherry picking a few from time to time, here's the first selection:
Powdered Alcohol: I wanted to get the most important new laws out first! You probably do not know there is such a thing, but booze in a powdered form, including spirits, wine and beer, is now illegal to possess, sell, make or use. It should be.
"Redskins": California public schools are now banned from using the name "Redskins" for sports teams and mascots – for obvious reasons. Favorite replacements are the "Tribe" and the "Reds." Tell that to the Washington Redskins football team.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting: California law requires vehicles on a multi-lane roadway to remain as practical as possible within a single lane. Apparently, following the European model, California is considering allowing motorcycles to "lane split," meaning drive between rows of stopped or moving vehicles. As we all know, when traffic is blocked up, it's not uncommon to see motorcycles threading their way between lanes. AB 51 merely authorizes the CHP to develop educational and safety guidelines for lane splitting, nothing more.
Gender-Neutral Bathrooms: Our Democrat-controlled Legislature in Sacramento has passed a law that requires all "single-user toilet facilities" in any business or public place to be all-gender with appropriate signage. I read new Health and Safety Code Section 118600 and can't tell whether it requires single unisex toilets to be labeled "Gender Neutral" (which would make no sense) or whether it applies to the typical two-bathroom men's and women's and requires those bathrooms to be labeled "Gender Neutral" or "His or Hers, You Decide," which doesn't make sense either. I'll let you know when the Legislature figures out what it meant.
Minimum Wage: You've all read about this new law, but California's minimum wage will increase from $10 an hour to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, gradually increasing to $15 an hour in 2022. SB 3 delays increases by one year for smaller employers. President-Elect Trump is tweeting he'd like to take the minimum wage back down to $1 an hour, or so I heard.
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Ahwahne Hotel: In response to the Ahwahne Hotel in Yosemite being renamed, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel because a concessionaire somehow acquired the right to the name Ahwahne, AB 2249 prohibits that from happening again. When I find out who that concessionaire was, I'll let you know so we can boycott.
Sexual Assault: In response to a minimal six-month jail sentence a Stanford student received for assaulting and having sex with a passed-out woman, AB 2888 mandates a prison term for sexually assaulting people who are unconscious. As the father of two daughters, I support this overdue law.
Bill Cosby Law: Senate Bill 813 responds to disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby who has been sued by dozens of accusers for his purported drugging and raping women. Effective prospectively only, SB 813 eliminates the Statute of Limitations (deadline) for prosecuting rape cases. The old law had a 10 year deadline; however, if the victim is a minor, the deadline to prosecute is her 40th birthday.
Dogs in Cars: AB 797 allows Good Samaritans to free animals who are showing signs of distress overheating in locked vehicles, provided they can't find the owner; however, they must first contact law enforcement and wait for the authorities to show up before breaking in to free the animal.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim's practice areas include: development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.