BY TODD GUILD
FOR SOUTH COUNTY NEWSPAPERS
CALIFORNIA — When recreational marijuana became legal on Jan. 1, it was arguably the most significant of 859 new laws taking effect in 2018.
In California, shoppers 21 and older will for the first time in the state’s history be able to legally purchase a packet of marijuana, should they be willing to pay the steep 30 percent tax.
Under Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, residents cannot consume their cannabis products in public places. It is still illegal in federal lands, such as national parks.
DUI laws still apply to marijuana, and Senate Bill 65 furthers that by prohibiting passengers from smoking or ingesting marijuana products.
The minimum wage in California will go up to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, which is part of 2017’s Senate Bill 3, which mandates annual increases until 2022, when it raises the wage to $15 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees.
New rules created by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation prohibit “drift-prone” pesticide application within a quarter-mile of schools, from Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This includes applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast sprayers, and all fumigant applications. Dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, will also be prohibited during this time. Fumigant pesticides can’t be used within a 36-hour period before a school day.
The rules also require California growers annually to tell public schools, day-care facilities and county agriculture commissioners about the pesticide they plan to use within the buffer zones within the upcoming year.
The regulation will affect about 4,100 public K-12 schools and licensed child day-care facilities and approximately 2,500 growers in California.
Assembly Bill 693 requires all ammunition sales to be made in person through a licensed dealer. The new law also requires all out-of-state ammunition purchases to go through licensed vendors. Online sales are allowed, but must be shipped to a licensed dealer.
Current law prohibits anyone from carrying a gun onto a school campus, unless a school official gives them permission. Assembly Bill 424 prohibits the officials from making that decision.
Passengers riding aboard commercial buses equipped with seat belts must wear them, under Senate Bill 20. That law imposes fines upon parents who take their children aboard buses and do not buckle them up.
Speaking of driving, Assembly Bill 2687 lowers the blood-alcohol content standard to .04 percent for people who drive for ride services such as Uber. Slashing the requirement from .08 percent was meant to increase safety standards. Those convicted of DUI offenses will lose their licenses.
Previously, Californians unable to pay parking fines faced suspension of their driver’s license. Assembly Bill 503 requires agencies to offer payment plans to low-income Californians before sending delinquent notices to the DMV.
In an attempt to gather tax revenue for the state’s ailing transportation system, Senate Bill 1 will require the DMV to tag on an additional $25-$175 to vehicle registration fees, depending on the vehicle’s current value.
The DMV will also collect a Road Improvement Fee on zero-emission vehicles made in 2020 or later.
Drivers in low-emission vehicles can purchase a decal that allows them to drive in express lanes, no matter how many people are in their car under Assembly Bill 544.
Californians applying for jobs will notice a change, too. Assembly Bill 168 prohibits employers from asking about potential employees’ past salaries. Assembly Bill 1008, meanwhile, prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal histories until a formal offer of employment is made.
Another change in the workplace comes from Senate Bill 63, which provides up to 12 weeks of maternity or paternity leave for new parents. Parents cannot lose their job and benefits for taking time off.
Senate Bill 54 restricts police and other local law enforcement agencies from communicating with federal immigration authorities. The law exempts those convicted of felonies in the last 15 years. Senate Bill 29 stops new agreements between local law enforcement and agencies that run immigration detention centers.
Under Assembly Bill 450, employers cannot allow federal immigration agents into their nonpublic areas, or give them access to employee records, without a warrant.
Assembly bills 699 and 21 prohibit colleges from sharing student information with immigration authorities.
The state took its support of college students a step further with Assembly Bill 19, which waives one year of tuition fees at community colleges for first-time students enrolled in 12 or more units and qualify for federal aid.
Another change in schools comes from Assembly Bill 10, which requires schools with low-income students in grades 6-10 to provide feminine hygiene products in girls’ bathrooms.
Assembly Bill 1127 requires newly built businesses to offer a diaper-changing station in both women’s and men’s bathrooms.
Assembly Bill 295 makes it illegal to skydive while intoxicated.