Most Important New California Laws of 2016

A whopping 807 new laws will come into effect in California in 2016. Here are some of the most important:

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Doctors will be allowed to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to certain terminally ill patients. California is now the fifth state in the nation to enact “right to die” legislation.

Dental students in their final year of study can now provide some treatments at health fairs and other events that typically draw uninsured and poor patients.

The state will spend $40 million to provide health coverage under Medi-Cal to children under age 19 who are not in the country legally.

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It will be illegal to wear earbuds in both ears or headsets while driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.

Local governments can set up installment plans for people to partially pay parking tickets if they cannot pay their fines all at once.

AB 604 requires riders of electric skateboards aka hoverboards to be 16 years or older and helmeted and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Children under age 2 must be secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system when being driven in a motor vehicle, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. Previously, only children under age 1 were required to be so restrained.

The law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over safely to let traffic pass has been amended to apply to all vehicles, including bicycles.

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SB 178 will require search warrants before law enforcement can obtain your emails, text messages, Internet search history and other digital data.

In “revenge porn” cases, prosecutors can seek forfeiture of the images and storage devices used.

The state can no longer collect DNA samples those held for non-serious felonies, such as nonviolent drug crimes.

Assembly Bill 216 prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, even if it does not contain tobacco.

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The state’s minimum wage increases from $9 to $10 per hour.

SB 358 requires that women and men be paid the same for “substantially similar work.” The law also allows female employees to allege pay discrimination based on the wages a company pays to other employees who do substantially similar work.

If an employer owes back wages, SB 588 allows the California Labor Commissioner to place a lien against the employer’s property.

Cheerleaders who root on professional athletes will be treated as employees under California law, with accompanying labor law protections.

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Concealed firearms are barred from college campuses and K-12 school grounds under SB 707.

AB 1014 allows family members or police officers to obtain a restraining order temporarily barring gun ownership for a relative that they believe may commit an act of violence.

Under SB 199, toy guns will need to have more features that distinguish them as toys, like a fluorescent trigger guards.


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SB 277 requires full vaccination for most children to enroll in school and eliminates the ability of parents to waive immunization rules for their children based on personal beliefs. Schools will begin vetting students to ensure they have their shots in July, before the 2016-2017 school year begins.

AB 329 makes sex education courses mandatory unless parents specifically seek an opt-out and adds curricula to include, for example, more information about HIV and gender identity.

For three years the state will suspend California’s high school exit exam, which is normally a requirement for students to receive diplomas.

What do you think of California’s new laws? Does the state pass too many? What laws would you like to see passed?

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