New Year, New Laws: What to Know for 2019

By JAMES GAGE | Reporter

California is always at the forefront of progressive legislation. On January 1, several new laws came into effect locally and statewide that could bring some day-to-day changes for Palisadians.

Food

One big change will be the omission of soda and sugary drinks from kids’ menus at restaurants and “full-service” (AKA fast food) restaurants across the state. Milk (regular, soy and other kinds) and water (sparkling and regular) will be the only options listed on kids’ menus. Kids can still request a soda with their meal, but by law, those sugary options will no longer appear as choices on their menus.

State Senator Bill Monning, who authored the bill, said California is in a “health crisis” as rates of Type-2 diabetes skyrocket across the state.

New laws extend not just to drinks, but to straws as well. On January 1, anyone who wants a plastic straw with their drink will have to ask for one.

Assembly Bill 1884 prohibits full-service restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws with drinks. The bill was written to reduce plastic waste in California landfills, oceans, rivers, and lakes. Every day, Americans use an estimated 500 million disposable plastic straws.

Transportation and
Motor Vehicle Safety

Under Assembly Bill 3077, if your youngster rides a scooter, skateboard or bicycle without a helmet and receives a “fix-it” ticket, they can reverse the citation within 120 days by attending a bicycle safety course and providing proof they own a helmet that meets safety standards.

Another new helmet law, Assembly Bill 2989, removes the requirement to wear a helmet on motorized scooters if you’re over the age of 18. While it’s still illegal to ride motorized scooters on sidewalks, you can now ride them on Class II and Class IV bikeways and roads with speed limits up to 25 mph.

For those of us without a Tesla, there are new smog check changes and abatement fees to study. Assembly Bill 1274 expands exemptions to vehicles eight model years old or older. During the additional two years, vehicle owners must pay an annual $25 abatement fee.

One law also aiming to make our roads safer is Senate Bill 1046, which mandates that repeat DUI offenders whose violations have caused injury install an ignition interlock device for a period of anywhere between 12 and 48 months.

Social Justice

In a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, Senate Bill 179 will allow anyone applying for a driver’s license or ID card in the state of California to identify as male, female or non-binary on the application. Those who identify as non-binary will seen an “X” next to the gender category on their ID card or license.

Over 100 of the 400 California-based companies in the Russell 3000 stock index have zero female board members. Senate Bill 826 introduces female director quotas on publicly traded companies in California. These companies must have at least one female director on their boards by the end of 2019. Boards with five directors will need two women and boards with six directors will need three women by the end of 2021.

For new mothers in the workforce, Assembly Bill 1976 amends and expands on California Labor Code Section 1031, stipulating that employers must provide a lactation space that is not a bathroom along with access to a sink and a refrigerator near the mother’s workspace.

Other Laws

Senate Bill 901 will allocate $1 billion for forest thinning and wildfire prevention across the state over the next five years, which comes in the wake of the devastation of the Woolsey and Camp fires last November.

Another bill is Senate Bill 100, which requires California to get 60 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.

Finally, one of the quirkier laws written this year is Assembly Bill 1782, which codifies surfing as California’s official state sport—good news for the Pacific Palisades, forever immortalized as a surf destination in the Beach Boys’ classic “Surfin’ USA.”