New State Laws Add Protections for Workers, Aid Police Transparency

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If you thought there would be some relief from those pesky scooter-riders in 2019’s new laws you were wrong: Under Assembly Bill (AB) 2989, adults riding electric scooters won’t be required to wear hel­mets on city streets. Worse, the new law also raises the speed limit for scooters on streets from 25 m.p.h. to 35 m.p.h.
But that is only one of the 1,016 bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2018. Here are a few more that will affect your life, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Food:
Senate Bill (SB) 946 now prohibits local governments from banning sidewalk sales of food and other merchandise and requires them to set up a licensing system if they want to regulate the practice. Viola­tions of local rules can only be punished with citations or fines, not criminal charges, so as not to alert immigration authorities.
Home cooking gets a boost as a microenterprise with AB
626 allows cities and counties to authorize and regulate the sale of home-made foods.
Children:
Public schools in California are required to provide low-in­come students with one free or reduced-price meal per day that meets federal child nutrition requirements under AB 1871. Beginning next academic year, the state is extending that rule to charter schools, which serve more than 340,000 low-income students of their own.
And, in SB 1192, restaurants are further mandated to offer a healthy drink – milk, water, sparkling water or flavored wa­ter with no added natural or ar­tificial sweeteners– as a default option for child meals that come with a drink
Minors who get in trouble with the law get some relief with two new laws. SB 439 sets the minimum age for criminal prosecution in juvenile court at 12 unless they are accused of murder or rape, while SB 1391 eliminates the ability to try a de­fendant under the age of 16 as an adult, thereby keeping him/her in detention in a juvenile facil­ity.
Police:
Two laws also impact police transparency and accountabil­ity. SB 748 requires that film footage and audio from police body cameras be made public within 45 days after a police shooting or excessive force causes the death or injury to a person and SB 1421 allows the public access to police records in cases of force, dishonesty or sexual misconduct.
Workplace:
Agricultural workers will re­ceive overtime under AB 1066, which will also slowly increase the wages for extra hours over a period of four years. It goes into effect in 2019 for employers who hire more than 25 people.
Employers will be required to provide a place other than the bathroom for breastfeeding mothers to use under AB 1976.
SB 1300, SB 820 and AB 2770 each address an aspect of the vulnerability of employees experiencing sexual harassment on the job — from prohibiting nondisparagement agreements, protection from the threat of defamation lawsuits and out­lawing secret settlements.
Environment:
For the environment, the AB 1884 prohibits full-service restaurants from distributing single-use plastic straws unless they are requested by the cus­tomer. Fast-food establishments are exempt from the $25 fine for each violation.
The Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News and KGO contributed to this report

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