List of California’s newest, and controversial, laws

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The California Legislature passes hundreds of bills each year, each with a different impact on the citizens of the state.

As California battles a wave of homelessness and unease over high taxes, The Sacramento Bee notes that the new laws are sometimes useful but may also be controversial. They complied a breakdown of the laws, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. To follow is a summary of their list.

Hiring

  • Assembly Bill 168 says prospective employers may no longer ask what an applicant made at their last job. Applicants may disclose their salary history voluntarily, but they cannot be compelled to do so. Supporters say the law will benefit women as they seek to close the so-called “gender pay gap.”
  • Assembly Bill 1008 bans the box on applications which asks about criminal conviction history, improving employment prospects for formerly incarcerated job seekers. The new law expands a current 2015 policy, and will now cover most private companies in the state. Employers may still conduct a background check after a conditional offer has been made.

Elections

  • Senate Bill 450 eliminates neighborhood polling places, changing elections to be primarily conducted by mail. The move is meant to boost sagging voter participation. Every registered voter will receive a mail ballot, with drop-off locations provides, as well as temporary regional “vote centers” which can register voters and accept ballots.

Job leave

  • Senate Bill 63 allows Californians more protections when they take time off from work, as employees of small businesses – between 20 and 49 employees – will be guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave within the first year of their child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. Larger company employees already have these rights.
  • Assembly Bill 908 boosts state compensation for workers taking paid leave in order to provide temporary care to a family member. It gives them 60 percent of their regular wages, up from 55 percent under prior law, and gives 70 percent to low wage earners.

Drug prices

  • Senate Bill 17 requires drug manufacturers to notify the state 60 days before dramatically increasing the price of most drugs. In addition, health insurers must disclose how the cost of prescription drugs affects the cost of premiums.
  • Assembly Bill 265 prohibits discount coupons for brand-name drugs, which critics say makes customers loyal to the more expensive medications, the demand potentially leading to higher premiums.

Affordable housing

  •  Senate Bill 2 adds a fee of $75 to $225 to real estate transactions, which is expected to generate up to $300 million annually for affordable housing projects, programs that assist homeless people and long-range development planning.
  • Senate Bill 35 lets developers bypass the lengthy and sometimes expensive review’s for new projects, when a community has not met state-mandated housing quotas.

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