New Laws Coming to California in 2014

As the New Year approaches, there are several new laws about to be enacted in California -- from transgender students' rights and a minimum wage boost, to sharing the road with bicyclists and changes to tips at restaurants.

Here is a round up of some of the new edicts:

PLASTIC BAG BAN: Shoppers in the city of Los Angeles will have to bring their own reusable bags or fork up 10 cents per sack at large retail stores, starting Jan. 1, 2014. Smaller stores have until July 1, 2014, to phase out single-use plastic bags.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: Students in grades K-12 who identify as transgender will be allowed to use school bathrooms and play on sport teams “consistent with their gender identity,” starting Jan. 1, 2014.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Workers earning minimum wage will net $9 an hour starting July 1, 2014. The increase is part of a three-year plan that will raise the hourly minimum wage in California to $10 – one of the highest in the nation – by 2016. Under another bill, domestic workers will have to be paid time and a half if they work more than nine hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week; baby sitters are exempt.

GAY SCOUT BAN: Starting Jan. 1, 2014, the 116,000-member Boy Scouts of America will lift its ban on openly gay scouts, though the ban on openly gay leaders is still in effect.

PAPARAZZI CRACKDOWN: Backed by actresses including Halley Berry and Jennifer Garner, a new measure will impose tougher penalties on paparazzi that harass the children of public figures, including celebrities, police officers and judges. Starting in January, violators could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Fines would increase for subsequent convictions.

MORE ROOM FOR BICYCLISTS: Drivers must give cyclists a 3-foot clearing when passing or, when that clearance isn’t possible, slow down and only pass when there’s enough room. Starting Sept. 16, 2014, passing too close to a bicyclist could result in a fine for the driver, whether there was a crash or not.

AMBER ALERT EXPANSION: Abductions by custodial parents or guardians, who may cause serious bodily injury or death to the child, now will require law enforcement to request the activation of an AMBER Alert.

TEXTING AND DRIVING: Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use voice recognition software, like Apple’s “Siri,” to write, send or read a text while behind the wheel.

ON-CAMPUS SMOKING: All 10 University of California campuses will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1, 2014. The ban includes all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

HYBRIDS RIDING HOV: Low-emission or zero-emission vehicles can continue using high-occupancy vehicle, or carpool, lanes without meeting occupancy requirements until Jan. 1, 2019.

FINDING HIT-AND-RUN DRIVERS: A new bill extends the current three-year statute of limitations for hit-and-run offenses to six years from the date of a crash that causes death or permanent, serious injuries.

GROUP GRATITUITY: Tips automatically added to a restaurant bill (usually when a table seats 6 or more diners) will now be taxable as regular wages and subject to payroll tax withholding, which means your server won’t see those tips until payday instead of taking it home as cash.

SEARCH WARRANTS: A driver suspected of DUI who refuses to submit to or fails to complete a blood test can be served a search warrant to draw blood in a “reasonable, medically approved manner.” This law went into effect Sept. 20.

VICTIM PROTECTION: Employers are now barred from firing, discriminating or retaliating against a worker because they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The new law also requires employers to protect victims from their abusers, for example, by changing the employee's work number.