The new year is coming, and 2020 is bringing with it a plethora of new laws that will touch on the lives of many Californians.
From a minimum wage increase to crackdown on vaccine exemptions, a major shake-up of California’s employment laws to a cap on rent hikes, here’s a rundown of some of the laws which could affect your life in the coming year.
That Lyft might get more expensive
One of the biggest laws to come out of the Legislature this year, Assembly Bill 5 re-classifies many independent contractors, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, as employees, entitled to benefits and protections, such as sick leave and minimum wage.
Lyft has warned that AB 5, which goes into effect Jan. 1, could increase both the cost and the wait time for rides, while fellow ride-share company Uber has defiantly resisted re-classifying its employees.
Groups representing therapists and counselors argue that the new rules could reduce access to mental health services and make those services more expensive.
Several professions are exempt under the new law, however, including doctors, lawyers, accountants, veterinarians and cosmetologists.
The minimum wage goes up
On Jan. 1, California inches a little bit closer toward its end goal of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
Statewide, the minimum wage will increase to $12 an hour for employers with 26 or fewer employees, and $13 an hour for employers with more than 26.
This annual $1-an-hour increase continues until 2023, when all employers will be required to pay employees at least $15 an hour.
Of course, several California cities already have a $15-an-hour (or higher) minimum wage.
No more suspending ‘unruly’ children
Schools will have to find an alternative to suspension when it comes to dealing with unruly students.
Beginning July 1, 2020, it will be illegal for schools to suspend students in grades kindergarten through eight for unruly or disruptive behavior. Senate Bill 419 applies to both public and charter schools. Grades nine through 12 are not covered in the law.
Renters get new protections
A new law restricts landlords’ ability to do things like raise the rent or evict tenants.
Going into effect Jan. 1, 2020, Assembly Bill 1482 restricts annual rent increases to no more than 5 percent, plus inflation.
If you’ve lived in your rental unit for at least a year, you also just got additional protection against being evicted.
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Landlords are limited in their ability to evict tenants. Tenants may be evicted when found “at-fault” of violating their lease, or they may be evicted for “no-cause” only in a limited set of circumstances. Landlords who want to do a major remodel can evict a tenant and only if they provide either a rent waiver or payment equal to one month’s rent.
A separate bill prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who use housing vouchers, also referred to as “Section 8,” to pay their rent.
Vaccine exemptions get more tightly regulated
After a bruising Legislative process, and the opposition of hundreds of protesters, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill cracking down on vaccine exemptions into law. The first effects of that law will be felt in 2020.
Senate Bill 276 empowers the California Department of Public Health to create a medical exemption form that doctors will be required to use and which would be cataloged in a state database.
Doctors who, starting in 2020, issue five or more exemptions will be subjected to state review.
The new law is intended to prevent physicians from selling medical exemptions to anti-vaccine parents of K-12 children.
Your right to privacy just got stronger
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, you will have a right to know what personal information businesses are holding onto, and to have that information deleted if you wish.
The California Consumer Privacy Act, passed in 2018, applies to businesses that operate in the Golden State that gross $25 million or more per year, that buy or sell personal information for more than 50,000 consumers for commercial purposes, or derive half or more of their revenue from selling personal information, according to Common Sense Media, which co-sponsored the law.
The law gives companies up to 45 days to comply with requests, though they may take one 45-day extension.
In addition, companies will be prohibited from selling the data of anyone younger than 16 without express permission.
The new law also gives you the ability to sue companies if there is a breach of your non-encrypted information, and empowers the attorney general to levy fines against those companies as well.
More housing could be built
In a bid to boost home construction in the Golden State, Newsom signed a slate of housing-related bills into law in 2019.
One of those bills to become law is aimed at restricting cities’ ability to “downzone,” or reduce the number of units that can be built in a single space. Under the new law, cities are also limited in their ability to impose building standards that would make a project more expensive. That law remains in effect until 2025.
Health care for young undocumented immigrants
Undocumented immigrants under age 26 will be eligible for California’s low-income health insurance, beginning Jan. 1.
This marks an expansion of previous eligibility laws, which allowed undocumented immigrant children to apply.
That expansion comes due to a $98 million funding package to Medi-Cal included in the state’s 2019-20 budget. To qualify, an applicant must make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $17,200 for an individual and $35,500 for a family of four.
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