New California Laws

Maryam Nawaz

Every year, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, is presented with hundreds of proposed bills, which he either signs or vetoes. This 2017 saw the signing of a grand total of 898 new bills (155 ended up getting vetoed). From driving in cars to tougher gun laws, these new bills have the potential to impact the lives of average citizens. Here are just a few of the new laws to look out for this year:
1. If you come across a pet trapped in a hot car, you are now allowed to break in and save them (as long as you call authorities first).
2. Schools are now allowed to expel students for cyberbullying.
3. Good news for the workers! Minimum wage has gone up from $10 to $10.50, and, according to current plans, will end up at $15 by 2022. Smaller businesses are given an extra year before they are required to raise their minimum wage.
4. The legal definition of rape has been extended to include all non-consensual sex. Rapists can now be convicted many years after their crimes, and the possession of date-rape drugs can lead to a felony charge.
5. Some felons have been given the right to vote in elections.
6. Violent felons, drunk drivers, and sex offenders aren’t allowed to work for Uber or Lyft anymore. (How was this not already a law?!)
7. Have you ever used your phone while driving? There are stricter laws against that now. Unless it is mounted on the dashboard and the driver only uses one finger to tap the screen, it is illegal to use an electronic device while driving. Continuing with the trend of stricter driving laws, devices are now being installed in the cars of drivers convicted of drinking under influence in order to measure their alcohol levels.
8. Steps have been taken to increase gun control; semi-automatic rifles with bullet buttons can’t be sold, and any legal firearms left in cars must be concealed.
9. Under the “right to try” law, terminally ill patients are allowed to try experimental drugs that have not been federally approved. The “right to die” law gives these same patients the right to end their lives with doctor-prescribed drugs.
Whether you are glad or disappointed about the new political changes, it is always helpful to know and understand the laws we must operate under. Until next year…