New California laws for 2014Loading
  • Deportation
    AB 4 pushes back on a federal program requiring local law enforcement to detain arrested immigrants. Now jails can hold immigrants for federal immigration enforcement only if they have committed serious or violent crimes, as defined by the law.
    Hector Amezcua |
    Parolee GPS
    Paroled sex offenders may think twice before removing court-ordered tracking devices: Under SB 57, severing those GPS trackers will mean another 180 days of incarceration.
  • Veteran students
    SB 290 allows veterans who were stationed in California before their discharge or who intend to settle here to obtain in-state tuition at public community colleges or California State University schools.
    Anne Williams | Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
  • Little League Baseball
    Youth athletics
    AB 465 allows community youth sports teams to request a background check before taking someone on as a coach.
    Carolyn Kaster | AP
  • Mattress recycling
    Trying to figure out how to dispose of that old mattress? SB 254 creates a mattress recycling program, funded by a fee on buying mattresses (one Republican opponent dubbed it a 'sleep tax'). An industry group must convene and build the program by July 1, 2015.
    Jay Mather | Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
  • Food stamps
    AB 191 links signing up for Medi-Cal benefits to enrolling in food stamps via Cal Fresh, bolstering the author’s goal of expanding access for the many low-income California households eligible for both programs.
    John Decker | Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
  • Tree planting
    Charter cities
    SB 7 seeks to guarantee a prevailing wage, higher than the minimum wage, to workers on public works projects. Some California cities have charters exempting them from prevailing wage requirements for such jobs, and SB 7 penalizes those cities by denying them state construction money. Charter cities can still use state funds awarded prior to Jan. 1, 2015, so some cities may spend 2014 weighing whether to alter their charters.
    Lezlie Sterling |
  • Athletes
    Athlete compensation
    Responding to complaints that California’s worker’s compensation system pays benefits to out-of-state athletes, AB 1309 requires pro athletes to have spent a minimum chunk of their career playing for California teams if they want to submit a claim to the state’s fund.
    Paul Kitagaki Jr. | Sacramento Bee
    Driver’s licenses
    AB 60 accomplishes something immigrant advocates have sought for years – driver’s licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will spend this year designing the licenses, which will become available by Jan. 1, 2015.
    Randall Benton |
  • Lawyer Working Illegally
    Immigrant attorneys
    Playing off of the legal case of Sergio Garcia, who was brought to California illegally as a child and later passed the state’s bar exam on his first try, AB 1024 allows undocumented immigrants who pass the California bar to practice law.
    Jeff Chiu | The Associated Press
  • G62LF4NG.6Photographer
    Hydraulic fracturing
    SB 4 seeks to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a gas-harvesting practice that involves blasting a mix of pressurized water and chemicals underground. Rules taking effect at the start of 2014 mandate groundwater monitoring, require neighbors to be notified of new wells and have energy companies publicly disclose the fracking chemicals they use.
    José Luis Villegas |
  • dove opener
    Lead ammunition
    AB 711, which cites the health risk to wildlife in banning lead ammunition, won’t be fully implemented until July 2019. In the meantime, the state’s Fish and Game Commission will get to work on a framework for phasing out lead bullets.
    Distillery tastings
    Smaller craft distilleries will now have more of an incentive to offer liquor tasting events: starting in 2014, AB 933 allows them to charge for the privilege of sampling their product.
  • G51SIVHS.6Senior Photographer
    Kings’ court
    SB 743 addresses a tight National Basketball Association-imposed deadline for Sacramento to build the Kings a new arena by expediting the environmental review and eminent domain process.
    Paul Kitagaki Jr. |
    AB 351 bars California agencies and the state National Guard from helping the federal government detain or prosecute people under a controversial post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law. The bill offered the rare spectacle of a prominent liberal senator, Mark Leno, presenting a bill on behalf of far-right conservative Tim Donnelly.
    Pete Souza | MCT
  • Toliets
    Plumbing prerogative
    Going into effect a few years after it was passed, 2009’s SB 407 requires homeowners doing renovations to homes built before 1994 to install water-efficient toilets and faucets.
    Paul Kitagaki Jr. | Bee file, 2009
    AB 154 allows medical professionals such as nurse practitioners to perform a type of early abortion if they have received the necessary training. Qualified professionals can now enroll in the requisite training program.
    The sole survivor of a trio of scope-of-practice bills, SB 493 expands what pharmacists can do to include administering vaccines, performing patient assessments and ordering toxicity tests, among other functions.
  • Testing
    Standardized tests
    With schools at work implementing the national Common Core standards, AB 484 nixes the existing Standardized Testing and Reporting assessments in favor of tests aligned with the new guidelines. Students across the state will take the incoming Common Core-related tests by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, and the scores will be used to evaluate schools the following year.
    Domestic workers
    Dubbed the “Domestic Worker Bill of Rights” by supporters, AB 241 entitles housekeepers, nannies and other in-home laborers to overtime pay. The final version contains fewer worker guarantees than the original, which offered such protections as meal breaks.
    Wilfredo Lee | Associated Press
    SB 54 dictates that petroleum refineries ensure that trained, skilled workers comprise an escalating share of their contractor and subcontractor workforce. Due to their qualifications, the skilled workers command higher pay.
    Paul Sakuma | Associated Press file
    Purchase reporting
    Passed in 2011, AB 809 allows the Department of Justice to retain data about rifle and shotgun purchases; until now, the agency has been able to hold onto information only about handgun transactions. The law is intended to let cops know what they’ll be up against and to bolster a program that confiscates guns from people barred from owning them, such as the dangerously mentally ill and convicted criminals.
    Gun capacity
    AB 48 makes it illegal to buy or own “conversion kits” that give guns semi-automatic capability and to purchase a large-capacity magazine in California.
    Gun storage
    AB 500 requires a gun owner, in a household inhabited by someone prohibited from owning a gun, to lock up any firearms.
    Gun checks
    Intended to shore up safeguards against dangerous people buying guns, SB 127 requires a therapist told of “a serious threat of physical violence” to quickly tell authorities, and requires the authorities to notify the Department of Justice within 24 hours.
    Will Seberger | McClatchy Tribune
  • Cell Phone Driving
    Distracted driving
    Hands-free doesn’t mean scot-free: SB 194 prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using their cellphones to compose or read text messages, even if the teens are using a voice-activated feature.
    Elaine Thompson | AP
  • Immigrant workers
    AB 263 and SB 666 both prohibit employers from punishing or retaliating against workers on the basis of their immigration status.
    Hector Amezcua |
Bills that crossed Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in 2013 encompassed policy topics from bullets to bike safety. In some cases Brown signed legislation that enshrined key Democratic goals, reflecting the strength of robust Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

A few of those bills, including one hiking the state minimum wage and one requiring cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists, won’t take effect for a few months. But that still leaves plenty of substantial measures that become operative state law today. Here’s a look at some highlights.
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