SACRAMENTO – Police transparency has been bumped up a notch under Assembly Bill 748, taken into effect starting Jan. 1. According to AB 748, the images of body cameras on police officers and any other audio recording acquired by a police agency be disclosed to the public. This must be done within 45 days after a police shooting or excessive force causes death or injury to a person. SB 1421 allows public access to police records in cases of force, as well as investigations that confirmed the lack of honesty in the work or sexual misconduct.
Juvenile Justice: SB 1391 requires that juveniles ages 14 and 15 accused of crimes be tried in the juvenile justice system instead of being prosecuted as adults. This also means teens under the age of 16 would be incarcerated in juvenile facilities even if they commit a serious offense. Senate Bill 439 establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, unless a minor younger than 12 has committed murder or rape.
Recreational Marijuana: AB 1793 states that by July, the state must identify all offenses eligible for expungement or resentencing and to clean up those criminal records related to recreational marijuana convictions prior to the state’s passage of Proposition 64 in 2016. More than 200,000 cases could be affected.
Mail-in ballots: In an effort to includes low-income voters, AB 216 requires election departments to include a return envelope with prepaid postage for vote-by-mail ballots.
Presidential primary: SB 568 moves California’s 2020 primary up to the first Tuesday in March to have more influence in the presidential primaries.
Graduation ceremonies: AB 1248 affirms the right to wear religious and cultural adornments, such as tribal feathers and leis, on top of school-approved gowns during graduation ceremonies.
High school diplomas: AB 1974 prohibits public schools from withholding high school diplomas for students with past-due bus fares, overdue library books or unpaid uniforms.
Deported students: AB 3922 retroactively grants high school diplomas to seniors who have been deported.
CPR and pets: SB 1305 allows first responders the option to provide emergency medical assistance to pets, which was previously only allowed by licensed veterinarians.
Pet custody: Judges will be able to decide who gets custody of a family pet during a divorce. Under AB 2271, the judge will consider factors like who takes care or feeds the pet.
Pet stores: AB 485 prohibits pet stores from selling live animals, such as dogs, cats or rabbits, that come from breeders. Pet store animals must be obtained from an animal shelter and the store must post the name of the agency.
Pets & Cannabis: AB 2215 allows veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis with pet owners, but vets will not be allowed to administer cannabis to animals.
Lactation Accommodation: AB 1976 brings California law into conformity with federal law by requiring that the employer provide a location for an employee to breast feed other than a toilet stall. The new law will provide an undue hardship exemption under limited circumstances.
Salary History: AB 2282 amends the Labor Code to clarify that employers can ask about an applicant’s salary expectations for the position being applied. It also says external applicants are entitled to a pay scale upon request, and only after completing an initial interview.
Criminal Background Checks: Current law generally prohibits consideration of an applicant’s judicially sealed or expunged convictions. SB 1412 will narrow an employer’s ability to consider sealed or expunged convictions to only those circumstances where a particular conviction would legally prohibit someone from holding that job.
Defamation Protection: AB 2770 establishes that under California law: Employees who report sexual harassment, based on credible evidence and without malice, won’t be liable for injury to the alleged harasser’s reputation; Communications between the employer and victims/witnesses will be protected; and an employer will now be permitted to reveal in a job reference whether an individual is not eligible for rehire because the employer determined that he/she engaged in sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment – Settlements: SB 1300 makes numerous changes to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) relating to workplace harassment claims. It will prohibit an employer from requiring an employee, in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment to: Agree not to sue or bring a claim against the employer under FEHA; or sign a non-disparagement agreement preventing the employee from disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including but not limited to sexual harassment. These prohibitions won’t apply to negotiated settlement agreements or severance agreements. SB 1300 expands employer liability for unlawful harassment by nonemployees but prohibits a prevailing defendant from being awarded attorney’s fees and costs unless specific factors are proven.