- Bicycle passing distance: This law prohibits motorists from passing a bicycle with less than three feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or driver. When three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not. This law will go into effect September 16, 2014.
- Statute of limitations on hit and run accidents: This law extends the statute of limitations for hit-and-run collisions in which death or permanent, serious injury was a result. A criminal complaint may be filed within three years of the offense, or one year after the person was initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of the offense, which ever comes later, but in no case more than six years after the offense.
- Registration fees, vehicle theft: This law authorizes counties to increase registration fees by $1 for passenger vehicles and $2 for commercial vehicles to fund programs related to vehicle theft crimes in those counties.
- Search warrants, chemical tests: This amendment to current law authorizes the issuance of a search warrant to draw blood from a person in a reasonable, medically approved manner, to prove that the suspect violated misdemeanor DUI provisions when that person has refused an officer’s request to submit to, or has failed to complete, a blood test. This law has been operative since September 20, 2013.
- Teen drivers, hands free cell phone ban: This law prohibits a person who is under 18 years of age from using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving, even if it is equipped with a hands-free device.
- Minimum wage: This law raises California’s current minimum wage of $8 per hour by two, one-dollar increments: to $9 per hour effective July 1, 2014, and to $10 per hour effective January 1, 2016.
- Damages for minimum wage violations: This law expands the penalty available for citations issued by the Labor Commissioner for failing to pay minimum wage to include a requirement that the employer pay liquidated damages to the employee, in addition to existing penalties.
- Prevailing wages: A number of bills signed this year relate to prevailing wages. Employers that provide services or construction work for the government or public entities must pay the prevailing wage, which usually is significantly higher than the minimum wage.
- One notable bill — SB54 — expands payment of prevailing wages to privately financed refinery construction projects.
- Protection for military and veterans: A new measure adds “military and veteran status” to the list of categories protected from employment discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
- Sexual harassment clarified: This law amends the definition of harassment to clarify that sexually harassing conduct does not need to be motivated by sexual desire. The new law clarifies that hostile treatment can amount to unlawful sexual harassment, regardless of whether the treatment was motivated by any sexual desire.
- Immigrant protections: Many new laws will affect immigrants in 2014. New protections will address retaliation against immigrant workers who complain about unfair wages or working conditions. Privileges such as driver licenses for undocumented immigrants also were extended.
- Retaliation and unfair immigration practices: A new law prohibits an employer from engaging in “unfair immigration-related practices” when an employee asserts protected rights under the labor code. For instance, an employer may not threaten to contact, or contact immigration authorities because an employee complained that he/she was paid less than the minimum wage. Another law authorizes various penalties against employers that engage in unfair immigration-related practices, including a private right of action.
- License Revocation for threatening to report immigration status: Another measure permits the state to suspend or revoke an employer’s business license if the employer reports, or threatens to report the immigration status of any employee if the employee makes a complaint about employment issues. It also allows for disbarment of attorneys for similar conduct against witnesses or parties in a lawsuit. The law covers reports, or threats to report, employees, former employees, prospective employees or family members, as defined, to immigration authorities. Employers are not subject to the suspension or revocation of a business license for requiring a worker to verify eligibility for employment under the Form I-9.
- Criminal extortion for threatening to report immigration status: Another law clarifies that a person may be guilty of criminal extortion if the person threatens to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual, his/her relative or a member of his/her family.
- Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants: A new driving law requires the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver license to an undocumented person who can prove identity and California residency and who can meet all other licensing requirements, such as the written and behind-the-wheel exams. The card will bear a notation stating that the card is not acceptable for federal purposes, such as verifying eligibility for employment. In other words, this card is not acceptable for Form I-9 verification. AB 60 does not take effect until January 1, 2015, or on the date the Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) director executes a specified declaration, whichever is sooner. The DMV must adopt regulations to implement the new law, including documents acceptable for the purposes of proving identity and California residency, as well as procedures for verifying authenticity of documents.
- Paid family leave benefits: A new law expands paid family leave wage-replacement benefits for employees to include benefits for time taken off to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling or parent-in-law. PFL does not create the right to a leave of absence, but provides California workers with some financial compensation/wage replacement during a qualifying absence. This new law takes effect July 1, 2014.
Sections of this report were taken from the CHP website and the California Chamber of Commerce website.
Public safety and city government reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 209-568-9975 or email@example.com.