10 New Laws Californians Should Know

California lawmakers passed over 900 new laws that will go into effect in 2015.

California lawmakers passed over 900 new laws that will go into effect in 2015. Here’s a look at the ones that’ll bring some of the biggest changes:

  • Immigrants’ Driver's Licenses (AB 60) -- The DMV must issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who meet every other qualification, like passing driving tests. About 1.4 million people without U.S. citizenship are expected to apply in the first three years.
  • 'Yes Means Yes' (SB 967) -- To receive state funding, colleges must only consider sex consensual if both parties actively agree to it and are not drunk or passed out, throwing out the old refrain of “no means no” and replacing it with "yes means yes." California becomes the first state in the nation to use this rubric for sexual consent.
  • Groundwater Management (SB 1168, 1739, 1319) - A sweeping set of groundwater regulations that requires local water agencies to manage how much water is drawn from wells, making California the last Western state to end “pump-as-you-please” rules during a severe drought. 

  • Plastic Bag Ban (SB 270) -- Grocery stores across California must follow the lead of cities like Los Angeles and stop bagging items in single-use plastic bags and allowing them to charge 10¢ for paper bags, the first statewide plastic bag ban in the nation.
  • Audrie’s Law (SB 838) -- Teenagers convicted of sexually assaulting someone who is unconscious or can't give consent will face stiffer punishments, including mandatory sexual-offender treatment. The bill is named for Audrie Pott, a teenager who killed herself after photos surfaced of her sexual assault.
  • Selfie Revenge Porn Rights (SB 1255) -- Expanding a law that makes it a misdemeanor to distribute a naked picture of someone, often in an act of revenge, even if the photo was originally taken by the naked person.
  • Sex Abuse Rights (SB 926) -- Children who claim they’re victims of a sex crime have until their 40th birthday to file charges, up from their 28th birthday. (Applies only to crimes committed on or after January 1, 2015.
  • Mandatory Sick Leave (AB 1522) -- Starting July 1, anyone who works for 30 days is eligible to accrue sick pay under this law, known as the "Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act." About 6.5 million workers are estimated to be affected by the law.
  • Massage Parlor Oversight (AB 1147) -- Local governments get greater oversight of massage parlors, which have been used as a front for sex trafficking.
  • Gun Owner Welfare Check (SB 505) -- Requires law enforcement agencies to encourage their officers to consult with gun ownership records when conducting welfare checks -- something agents didn’t do before Isla Vista shooter Elliott Rodger killed six people in May.
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