New California legal guidelines tackle virus, fires, regulation enforcement

What a strange legislative year it was.

The coronavirus pandemic forced California state lawmakers to abandon their sessions twice for weeks – the first unexpected stoppage in 158 years. Masked lawmakers tried to limit the number of bills under consideration but still ran out of time last night, partly because quarantined Republican senators had to vote remotely.

Still, they managed to pass hundreds of bills, 372 of which were legally signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Most of them come into effect with the new year. Including:


As the pandemic set in, there were also nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The police killing of mostly black and Latin American men urged bills that had previously stalled and sparked new law enforcement accountability efforts, some of which failed in the waning hours of the session.

A new law requires the attorney general to investigate every time the police kill an unarmed civilian, while a second law allows county regulators to better control the county sheriffs.

Assessment of peace officers must include assessments of bias towards race or ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

The police cannot use carotid restraints or chokeholds.

Young people up to the age of 17 cannot be questioned by the police or waive their rights until they have the opportunity to consult a lawyer.

Suspects may be eligible for new legal proceedings or sentences if they can show that their case has been compromised by racial prejudice. The juries are selected from all taxpayers, a larger pool than the current lists of registered voters and licensed drivers.

Governments cannot use software to track a person or object without first receiving an arrest warrant.

Former inmates firefighters can quickly request that their criminal records be cleared upon their release, giving them the opportunity to become professional firefighters or seek employment in other licensed professions.


Record forest fires have marked the California landscape and sparked a need for more protection.

Homeowners in fire-prone areas must further reduce vegetation within 30 meters of structures, including removing vegetation immediately adjacent to structures. However, the rule cannot be enforced until the state develops regulations and legislators allocate money for increased inspections.

The Governor’s Emergency Services Office must consider the needs of the elderly, children, people with language barriers, or those with physical or mental disabilities when updating the state emergency plan.

Insurers must prominently notify policyholders if their offer to renew a policy reduces coverage, e.g. B. the elimination of fire protection, and have this confirmed in writing.

Emergency vehicles can use a “Hi-Lo” warning sound to inform the public of the immediate need to evacuate an area in an emergency under a law that came into force in September.

Employers cannot force domestic workers to work during an evacuation, regardless of whether there is a fire or coronavirus hazard.


Employers need to quickly inform workers of possible exposure to coronavirus.

Hospitals must maintain a three month supply of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves and deliver them to employees at risk. The state itself must also build up a reserve according to a separate law.

Several coronavirus laws have already come into force. This includes a presumption, for the purposes of employee compensation, that the virus was transmitted in the workplace, unless employers can prove otherwise. Second, Cal / OSHA must provide farm workers and employers with the best options for preventing coronavirus infections in English and Spanish. Food facility staff must be able to wash their hands every 30 minutes and, if necessary, also.

Good Samaritans who save children under 6 from overheating in unattended vehicles cannot be held liable under civil or criminal law if they first call emergency services before the break-in.

Insurance companies cannot refuse life or disability insurance just because an applicant has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

A new law bans the sale of most flavored tobacco products, but the industry says it has enough signatures to block the measure until voters weigh in, which may take until 2022. California officials are postponing the Effective Date until the District Clerks decide that there are sufficient numbers to be valid.


California-based companies are required to have at least one board of directors that is a racial or sexual minority by the end of 2021. By 2022 there will be two such directors for smaller boards and three for boards with nine or more directors. What follows is a similar California-first requirement for female board members.

Firms with 100 or more employees are required to provide the state with information on the race, ethnicity and gender of employees in various occupational groups that could help the state identify wage differentials.

The California Family Rights Act’s absence time extends to all companies with five or more employees instead of the previous limit of 50 or more employees.

Employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against workers who take time off for medical care, legal proceedings, or other reasons for being victims of a crime, including sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking.

Corporations cannot avoid paying back wages by adopting a new name under a law that says they will be liable if they have the same owners, facilities, or workers.

Employees have one year instead of six months to file discrimination or retaliation complaints with the California Labor Commissioner.

A law that has already gone into effect exempts about two dozen other professions from landmark California labor law, which aims to treat more people like employees rather than contractors. The bill was primarily aimed at giants Uber and Lyft, who received a reprieve in the November election.

The minimum wage rises to $ 14 per hour under another existing law that will provide $ 15 per hour for all workers through 2023. Employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay $ 13 an hour.

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