Legislators in Sacramento toiled last year to create 807 bills that were signed into law and began enforcement at the beginning of 2016. The topics covered in the new legislation reach far and wide and affect many different populations. Here are some of the highlights that could affect your life.
Several of the new laws are targeted to toward motor vehicle rules and safety features such as electronic road signs. Here are a few of them:
- Statute of limitations extended to one year for filing suits against drivers involved in vehicular manslaughter cases after hit-and-run accidents.
- State can use electronic highways signs to seek help finding vehicles involved in hit-and-run accidents. They can also be used for “silver alerts,” which are specific to missing senior citizens.
- Motorized boards such as so-called hoverboards can travel in the same areas that bikes are allowed, such as bike lanes and other pathways. While this reduces the danger to pedestrians on sidewalks, there is risk of accidents while traveling in bike lanes.
- People using DMV services will be automatically registered to vote (begins in approximately June).
- Residents can apply for payment plan to reconcile parking tickets that have accrued to a large dollar figure.
- Windows in limos must be able to be pushed out in emergencies so the passengers and driver can exit.
Addressing the Environment and Animals
Legislators targeted sustainability practices and laws to assist animals in their work. These are some new 2016 laws you should know:
- Marijuana farms that damage the environment with wastewater or site clearing can get significant fines.
- State fish and wildlife officials can move to protect areas used by monarch butterflies.
- The sale of elephant and rhino ivory is prohibited.
- Toxic Substance Control agency will be able to recoup cleanup costs from polluting factories.
- Financial support established to encourage solar panels on apartment complexes where low-income residents live.
- Established benchmark to have state getting 50 percent of energy from sustainable sources such as solar and wind by the end of 2030.
Crimes and Their Punishment
Many of the state’s new laws address punishments for crimes that involve technology. Others address immigration and discrimination. Here are some of the highlights:
- 21-day restraining orders may be sought by police of family members for people thought to be dangerous.
- Search warrants are required before law enforcement can access data on smartphones, the cloud or laptop computers.
- Established “U-visas” for illegal immigrants who could be helpful as a witness in a criminal case instead of automatic deportation.
- Insurance fraud and recording piracy now could be punishable by having the violator’s assets seized.
- Law enforcement have until 2018 to create records-gathering systems to track interactions with the public and detail the citizen’s perceived race and the reason for the stop.
- Requires detailed reports from law enforcement on any action that resulted in death or serious injury through use of force.
- DNA samples won’t be gathered in non-violent, minor crime cases.
- Steeper fines for drug crimes that are in a certain proximity to a meth lab or marijuana sales establishment.
- People who were wrongly convicted may be paid between $100-$140 for each day they were in prison.
- Former prison inmates should have access to housing, social services and substance abuse programs.
Many of the new laws cover a variety of issues we face in daily lives. These are some you should be aware of:
- Children younger than 14 may testify in court via remote video.
- Statute of limitations on human rights violations is extended to 10 years instead of five years.
- Beer-tasting events can be held at farmers markets.
- Transgender workers must receive equal benefits when working for state contractors when the contract is worth more than $100,000.
- Changes verbiage on gender discrimination laws to make it easier to sue for unfair pay.
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