New Laws for New Times

Thanks to AB 2020, local lawmakers now have the authority to license venues for cannabis events like fairs and festivals. It’s one of several new laws pertaining to the legalization of cannabis. Photo courtesy Dianne Porchia

A bewilderingly large number of new laws took effect in California on January 1, 2019—1,016, to be precise. Some of these laws are obscure, others address high-profile issues like immigration and gun control, and many have the potential to impact residents of the Santa Monica Mountains.


SB 1: Vehicle registration fees are increasing by $25-$175 a year. As part of SB 1, vehicles with a current value up to $4,999 will cost $25 more to register; Vehicles worth $5000-$24,999 will increase $50; Vehicles worth $25,000-$34,999 will increase by $100; those valued at $35,000 and $59,999 will increase by $150; and vehicles over $60,000 will get a $175 fee increase. Commercial vehicles with an unladen weight of more than 10,000 pounds are exempt, as are vehicles with historical plates, and those registered with planned non-operational status. The fee increase is earmarked for the State Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program to provide additional resources for the state to repair infrastructure and for road maintenance.

AB 1303: Drivers with a medical condition certified by a dermatologist can now legally have tinted windshields and side and rear windows to protect from UV radiation.

AB 390: Pedestrians can now cross the road while the “red hand” symbol is flashing, something that could previously result in a costly ticket.

AB 1755: Bicyclists can now face felony hit-and-run charges if they leave the scene of an accident that resulted in an injury or death.


SB 3: For the second year in a row, minimum wage is increasing in California. The minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour, for more than 2 million workers. Minimum wage will increase $1 each year to $15 in 2022.

AB 2770: Employees who report sexual harassment will receive protection from defamation liability, provided the allegation was made “without malice.”

SB 820: Workplace nondisclosure agreements regarding sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination are no longer binding. However, this law only applies to NDAs signed after January 1, 2019.

AB 168: Employers can no longer ask job applicants about salary history, compensation or benefits. Employers will also be required to disclose pay scales for a job at the applicant’s request.


SB: 832 and AB 1775: State officials are expressly prohibited from approving new onshore facilities needed to facilitate the Trump administration’s plan for new offshore oil drilling in federal waters.

AB 1884: Customers at full service restaurants must ask for plastic straws rather than automatically receiving them with drink orders.

SB 100: All Public utilities must implement renewable energy resources, with the goal of generating 60 percent of the state’s electricity from  green sources like wind and solar by 2030, and 100 percent by 2045.


SB 1192: California restaurants that sell children’s meals must offer milk or water as default drink options instead of soda.

SB 946: Sidewalk food vending is legal, with local governments having the authority to regulate the trade but not ban it.

AB 626: If you can cook it, you can sell it. Cities and counties will now permit and regulate small-scale and home micro-business cooking enterprises. As part of the new law, cooks must sell their products directly to customers.

SB 1164: Craft distillers will now be able to operate like wineries, selling spirits directly to customers, instead of requiring consumers to first take a tour or participate in a tasting event before purchasing products.


SB 54: Officially made California a sanctuary state, limiting state and local police cooperation with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents. California law enforcement officers are no longer allowed to ask about immigration status, or hold individuals for ICE, unless that individual has been convicted of a crime.

SB 291: Prohibits landlords from reporting renters who are in the country illegally.


Proposition 63: Ammunition purchases must now be made in person through authorized firearms and ammo vendors. Ammunition can still be ordered online, but it must be shipped to a licensed vendor for delivery to the buyer in person.

AB 424: This law eliminates a policy from 2016 that gave school administrators the authority to decide whether campus staff with concealed carry permits should be allowed to bring firearms to work.

AB 424: All school employees are banned from bringing firearms on campus, eliminating a previous policy implemented in 2016, that gave school administrators the ability to decide whether campus employees with concealed carry permits were allowed to bring their firearms to school.

SB 1100: Licensed firearms dealers are prohibited from selling a rifle or shotgun to anyone younger than 21. However, law enforcement officers, members of the military, and anyone who possesses a valid, unexpired hunting license is exempt from the restriction.


AB 1127: Diaper-changing stations will be a requirement in all new or renovated public restrooms.

SB 179: Provides a “non-binary” option. Individuals who do not identify as a binary gender no longer have to select male or female on their California driver license.

SB 826: Every publicly traded corporation headquartered in California must have at least one women on its board of directors by the close of 2019, and a minimum of two by July 2021. Companies found out of compliance face fines of $100,000 for a first offense and $300,000 for a subsequent violation.


AB 485: In an effort to cut down on abuses at puppy mills and other mass animal breeding facilities, this new law prohibits pet stores from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits, unless the animals are rescues.

SB 1305: First responders who encounter a pet animal in need of emergency medical assistance can now opt to administer “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation. Before this bill passed, only licensed veterinarians were allowed to use the life-saving technique.


SB 450: Every registered voter will now receive a mail-in ballot.

SB 568: In an effort to make California more relevant in the next presidential election cycle, the 2020 primary will be moved to the first Tuesday in March.


AB 830: Permanently eliminates a high school exit exam as a condition of graduation.

AB 1248: This new law recognizes the right of students during graduation ceremonies to wear religious or cultural adornments, such as tribal feathers, leis, or the West African kente that started the debate more than two years ago, when an Elk Grove high school student was banned from wearing the colorful cloth during his graduation.

AB 19: Once they have graduated from high school, first-time students enrolling for full time in community college can have their fees waived. AB 19 is part of a nationwide push to make community college available at no cost to students.


SB 1421: The public will now have access to internal investigations in incidents when peace officers are involved in killing or seriously injuring an individual, or there are allegations of sexual assault and lying on the job.

AB 748: Takes effect in July and will require law enforcement agencies to release audio and video of incidents involving “serious use of force,” including shootings, within 45 days unless the release would interfere with an active investigation.


AB 1793: The state is now required to bring prior marijuana convictions in line with current law. Convictions for possession will be thrown out, while possession with intent to sell will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.  

AB 2020: Local lawmakers now have the power to license venues for temporary cannabis events. However, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and law enforcement officers retain the authority to revoke a permit. Prior to this new law, only county fairgrounds were allowed to host cannabis events.

AB 221:. Veterinarians can discuss the use of cannabis as a treatment for animals with their clients, but are not allowed to administer cannabis to their patients.


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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