A number of new laws that went into effect Jan. 1 mirror the processes of the previous year when forest fires, the pandemic and criminal justice reform were at the fore for many Californians.
Of the hundreds of bills that have been signed into law, many will not be enacted until later this year. Starting in July, Californians will be banned from buying more than one semi-automatic rifle in a 30-day period. Proposal 19, which was narrowly passed in the autumn, requires people who inherit property to use it as their primary residence or have its tax base revalued from February. And a flavored tobacco ban, which should go into effect last week, is unlikely to be passed until at least 2022.
Here are some of the laws that will be the first to take effect in 2021.
Employers are required to pay a minimum hourly wage of $ 14 an hour, an increase of $ 1 from the previous year’s hourly minimum. Companies with fewer than 26 employees must increase their hourly wages to at least $ 13. Some cities like Palo Alto, Sonoma, and Mountain View have already raised their minimum wages to $ 15 or more this year.
The hourly wage increase was initiated by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016. According to a law, the state’s mandatory minimum wage had to be gradually increased each year until it reached $ 15 an hour in 2022. Governor Gavin Newsom could have suspended this annual wage hike because of the pandemic, but decided against it. “If this surge is not allowed, it will only make life harder for Californians, who have already borne a disproportionate share of the economic hardship caused by this pandemic,” he said in a statement.
Expansion of paid family vacation benefits
A new law that went into effect this year extends family vacation benefits to nearly six million residents. It also ensures that Californians who work for an employer with five or more employees are included in health and safety benefits. Previously, 40 percent of residents threatened to lose their job if they took vacation just because their employer was too small.
The new law also expands the possible reasons for vacation and allows Covid-19 affected workers to take time off to look after a parent, sibling or grandchild.
The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act enables detained transgender, gender-assault and intersex individuals to be accommodated and searched based on their gender identity. Individuals are accommodated where they feel most secure. State correction officers must record self-reported gender identity, gender pronouns, and badges of honor during admission and throughout incarceration. The law also prohibits prison workers from using a person’s specified gender pronouns and decorations.
Senator Scott Wiener, who drafted the bill, called it “life-saving legislation to protect trans people in prison, especially trans women who are subjected to high levels of assault and harassment in men’s facilities”.
Increased financial protection for consumers
California’s Consumer Financial Protection Act gives the revised Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, modeled after the Federal Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, a wide range of new powers and restores certain financial protections.
Pandemic-inspired scams that promise Covid-19 cures or aim to trick people into stimulus checks are on the rise across the state.
Covid-19 protection in the workplace
The new law requires employers to take certain measures within one working day of possible exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace, such as: B. written communications to employees. The notification must be in English and, if necessary, in another language.
A recent outbreak in a Central Valley poultry factory where intensive care beds have been at full capacity for weeks has highlighted the impact of employers who are slow to report outbreaks.
A longstanding program relying on detainees to fight forest fires now allows nonviolent offenders to petition to clear their records and use their training to find employment as firefighters. Previously, inmates had been banned from becoming professional firefighters after their release due to their previous convictions.
After a devastating fire season in which many firefighters were released early because of the pandemic, the prisoners’ fire teams played a crucial role. However, critics of the program compare it to slave labor, as prisoners fighting flames on the front lines earn as little as $ 1 an hour in treacherous conditions.
Criminal justice reform
The California Racial Justice Act expands the options for defendants to challenge a charge or conviction by demonstrating that their case was racially prejudiced.
Judgments given on or after January 1st can be challenged if racially-coded language is used in court or if a lawyer, judge or jury found willful discrimination. In addition, convictions or sentences may be challenged when there is evidence that individuals of a race are being disproportionately charged or convicted of a specific crime, or when a race is selected for longer or more severe sentences.
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An update on the pandemic
Last Friday was the deadliest day in the California pandemic. 585 deaths were recorded in a single day. Most of the cases are in Los Angeles County, where Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are on the rise. The county’s weekly average of new cases per day is highest at 16,193. This is a new case every six seconds, said Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday in the CBS program “Face the Nation”.
“This is a virus that takes advantage of our weakness and exhaustion,” said Garcetti. “I think the vaccine made everyone so hopeful that they can relax their behavior. We can’t give up. “
The increase has resulted in the number of cases in homeless shelters increasing as well. The number of infections among the homeless has doubled since last month.
[See the latest case numbers in the state.]
A new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in Big Bear after a person had contact with a traveler from the UK. [Los Angeles Times]
An outbreak in a San Jose hospital can be linked to someone who wore an inflatable costume in the hospital emergency room. [The New York Times]
Intensive care units in the Bay Area reported the lowest availability to date at just under 5 percent. In Santa Clara County, Some ambulances waited up to seven hours for the patient beds to open. [San Francisco Chronicle]
In the San Joaquin Valley Doctors fear that many in the public still do not understand the dangers of Covid-19. [The New Yorker]
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