New laws affecting you

What's new in 2020?

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Aidan Scott/Talon

Starting in 2020, new laws will be set in place affecting the citizens of California.

It’s a new year, and with it comes new state laws. As the nation has seen in the past, California is usually the leading states in progressive laws as other states follow suit after. For example, in 2019, Nevada and New York proposed new privacy laws after California passed new protection for consumers. Here are the new California laws.

Health insurance

Starting on the first of the year, Californians must have health insurance according to the individual mandate that was passed by the State Congress. If they do not, tax penalties will go into effect starting in 2021. The individual mandate idea comes straight from the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama Administration. The individual mandate has been eliminated by Congress during the Trump Administration.

“To the extent that any penalty is collected, all of that money is going to fund additional affordability assistance in Covered California,” Executive Director of Health Access California, a healthcare consumer advocacy coalition, Anthony Wright said. 

There are exemptions for getting mandated health insurance such as for religious reasons or if an individual is below the poverty line, then the tax penalty does not apply. The penalty is less for those under 18, but for people over 18, it is about 2.5% of their annual income.

California Consumer Privacy Act

Initiated on the first day of 2020, this law gives consumers increased control over their personal data collected by companies. California residents now have three main rights they can exercise when it comes to data collection: the right to know and access what information is being collected or sold, the right to request deletion of data and the right to non-discrimination for employing these rights. 

Additionally, Californians can opt-out of having their information sold. Websites and apps are mandated to provide a “Do Not Sell My Data” notification on their services. 

Companies are expected to spend $55 billion to cover the cost of compliance with the CCPA, according to a Berkeley Economic Advising and Research study.  

This law includes a variety of high-profile establishments, from Instagram to Disney to Uber. Initially, the law was meant to target only large corporations. However, it may also affect many small businesses. The Department of Justice calculates that out of the 15,000 to 40,000 companies affected by the CCPA, up to 50 percent may be small organizations that make at least half of their revenue through selling customers’ information.

Vaccinations

Recently, vaccination has been in the news. This year, California has taken a stance. In 2021, there will be a formal tracking system that will track the issuing and reviewing of medical vaccination exemptions. However, for the year 2020, any doctors who issue five or more exemptions will have those exemptions reviewed, and schools who fail to meet a 95% immunization rate will be reported, among other requirements.

“SB 276 is necessary to scrutinize the decision-making of ‘unscrupulous physicians’ who provide medical exemptions for ‘questionable reasons,’” bill sponsor California State Sen. Richard Pale told U.S. News.

The bill was passed in an effort to decrease the number of exemptions that are used for vaccinations in order to make sure that kids going to school are safe from diseases.

New gun policy

Created in response to the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting on July 28, 2019, and others like it, California now has a law that states if there is a reason that someone cannot access a gun in one state, the person cannot access a gun in California. 

“We can’t enforce California laws in Nevada,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said to the New York Times. “The reach of the California law ends at our borders and so we cannot control what other states do, and that’s what makes it so tough. We may have progressive gun laws, but if other states don’t match us, we have to rely on the ability to catch this from occurring.”

School suspensions 

Instead of sending students home for bad behavior, most elementary and middle schools will impose in-school suspensions starting this year.  

Students in grades four through eight can no longer be suspended for “disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority” of administrators and teachers, according to California’s senate bill. Children in grades K-3 have had this advantage since 2013. By 2025, this law will extend up to high school students, according to ABC 7 News.

Studies have shown that out-of-school suspensions cause negative effects on academic achievement, as well as attendance records. 

What we find specifically is suspensions for any reason are tied to lower scores in math and English language arts tests and that the negative effect increases with each additional day of suspension,” University of Pennsylvania professor Matthew Steinberg stated in an interview with EducationNext.  

However, there have been concerns that in-school suspensions will cause similar issues to out-of-school ones. 

“The goal should be to get to the root of the problem and get kids back in class as soon as possible,” director of UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies Daniel Losen told EdSource. “What’s counterproductive is if kids are sent to sit in a room with someone who’s just there to babysit and they’re not getting any support.”

Hairstyles

Starting in 2020, individuals can no longer be discriminated against for the way their hair looks at school or in the workplace. This policy, known as the Crown Law, protects a variety of hairstyles and hair textures, including afros, braids and dreadlocks. 

California is the first state to implement the Crown Law after State Senator Holly Mitchell’s proposal. She claimed that people of color are disproportionately affected by school and workplace grooming policies. 

Many black employees, including your staff members, will tell you if given the chance that they struggle to maintain what society has deemed a ‘professional image,’” Mitchell said at the California State Assembly last year. “Any law that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a position, not because of my capabilities or experience but because of my hair, is long overdue for reform.”

Minimum wage

The annual increase in the minimum wage went into effect in 2017. Each year, businesses with 26 employees or more see a dollar increase in the minimum wage until it reaches $15 in 2022. For businesses under 26 employees, it is delayed by a year and it will reach $15 by 2023. This was passed in 2014.

According to a study done by the Congressional Budget Office, “a wage increase to $15 an hour would result in a loss of 1.3 million workers or 0.8 percent of the workforce.”

California is not the only state, however, to raise the minimum wage as the standard of living increases. There has also been talk about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 as there are many benefits including raising Americans out of the poverty line.

“A $15 minimum wage would lift incomes of Americans living below the poverty line by 5.3 percent or $600 a year (adjusted for inflation) in 2025,” the CBO projects.

Public safety power shutoffs

Millions of residents lost power last year in California’s power outages due to concerns over wildfires. Customers blamed utility companies, such as PG&E, for poor management during these shutoffs, and called the state government to take action. In response, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that requires utilities to create plans regarding power outages’ effects on first responders and people with disabilities. 

Utilities must list protocols to warn more individuals about planned blackouts ahead of time, especially for those at high risk. In addition, a new center has been established to collect data on weather and wildfire threats. It will cost over $10 million to create.