Law Review: A sampling of new California laws in 2021
Our prolific California Legislature has been busy passing hundreds of new laws – needed or not. Here are a few:
Demilitarizing Police Uniforms. Law enforcement may no long wear uniforms that have camouflage or resemble military uniforms with a few exceptions e.g., SWAT teams. This presumably stems from our President sending unmarked federal troops into Portland, Oregon.
Diversifying Publicly Held Corporate Boards. California law already requires publicly held companies headquartered in California to have at least one woman on the Board. That has been expanded, so by Dec. 31, 2021, any California-based publicly held corporation with at least six or more directors must have at least three female directors on its Board; if the number of directors is five then at least two must be women, and if that number is four or less, then the corporation must have at least one female director. Also, by Dec. 31, 2021, any publicly held corporation in California must have one director from an “underrepresented community,” and by the end of 2022, any such corporation with more than four but fewer than nine directors must have a minimum of two directors from underrepresented communities, and such a corporation with nine or more directors must have a minimum of three directors from underrepresented communities. Underrepresented communities is defined as follows: an individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. I suggest you read the law to get the details.
Minimum Wage Bump. As of the first of the year, California’s minimum wage is $14 an hour at companies with 26 or more employees and $13 at companies smaller than that. It is part of a phased series of increases that will eventually make the state’s minimum wage $15 an hour in 2023.
Family Leave. SB 1383 amends the California Family Rights Act to require any employer with 5 or more employees to grant the employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period to bond with a new child or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner. Such employers are also required to grant up to 12 workweeks of protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying exigency related to the employee or employee’s spouse’s active military duty. An employer who employs both parents of a child must grant up to 12-weeks of leave to each employee.
Student Loans. As of July 1, 2021, AB 376 starts a host of new protections for student loan borrowers and makes it harder for lenders to take advantage of people who may not know all of their rights or know how to navigate the sometimes-complex student loan programs. I know something about that.
Insurance Notifications. Under AB 2756, and the Insurance Code, insurers must now prominently notify policy holders if their offer to renew a policy reduces coverage, such as eliminating fire protection, and must get that acknowledged in writing. Believe me, I know something about cancellations of fire policies.
Flavored Tobacco Ban. The new law passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gavin bans the sale of all flavored tobacco products in California including menthol cigarettes. The goal supposedly is to make these products less appealing to children and teens. Word is however, that the ban may be delayed as tobacco companies have filed enough signatures to put the new law to a statewide vote. You can be assured any such proposal will not ban flavored tobacco products. There is money in tobacco.
Traffic Safety. Under AB 2285, drivers may be fined if they do not slow down and whenever possible change lanes when encountering a Caltrans vehicle, tow truck or other emergency vehicle with lights flashing on the highway. Under AB 2717, Good Samaritans who rescue an endangered child under the age of six from a locked, unattended vehicle, are immune from civil or criminal liability.
Just to lighten the mood, I want to remind you that as of 2012, nudity at permitted events is unlawful, but municipalities may be required to issue permits to nudists participating in parades under one court order. And because a long time ago teenagers rode their bicycles and skateboards on frozen swimming pools in Southern California, it is now illegal to ride your bike in a public pool.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, 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.
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