The new year brings with it resolutions for some, the status quo for others, and new laws impacting everyone.

This year marks some notable California laws for motorists, minimum wage workers and those who treasure having a plastic straw in their beverage while dining out. 

Following are some of the new laws taking effect Jan. 1:

• Minimum wage employees will start making $12 an hour at businesses with 26 employees or more, and $11 an hour at those with 25 employees or fewer. Under current law, the state's minimum wage will continue to increase each year until 2023, when the minimum wage will be $15 an hour.

• Want a straw with that Pepsi? You'll have to ask for it.

All full-service restaurants will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic straws unless specifically requested by the customer. The first two violations will lead to notices; after that it's punishable by a $25 fine each day there is a violation, not exceeding $300 annually. 

• In another law impacting those who dine out, all restaurants selling children's meals that include a beverage must make the default beverage water, sparkling water or flavored water, unflavored milk, or a "nondairy milk alternative" containing no more than 130 calories per serving. 

The restaurant can serve something other than the default beverage if the customer requests it. The law was enacted in an effort to combat childhood obesity. 

• In a step for increased transparency in officer-involved shootings, law enforcement must make available to the public all records for incidents involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer, and incidents in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer against a person resulted in death, or in great bodily injury.

The law also includes records related to a sustained finding that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in sexual assault, and records related to a sustained finding that a peace officer was dishonest, including findings of perjury, false statements, filing false reports and destruction, falsifying or concealing of evidence.

• The Department of Justice will begin reviewing records to determine which convictions for crimes such as marijuana possession or distribution are potentially eligible for dismissal or reduction now that recreational pot is legal in the state. The DOJ then must notify prosecutors of all cases in their jurisdiction.

By July 1, 2020, prosecutors must decide which cases they will challenge. 

• Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide nursing mothers with a room or location to pump breast milk other than a bathroom. The room must be private and used only for lactation purposes while the employee pumps milk. It can include the space where the employee normally works. 

• Emergency responders are authorized, on a voluntary basis, to provide basic first aid to dogs and cats without fear of criminal prosecution or professional discipline. Previously, only licensed veterinarians could provide aid.

Basic first aid to the animals includes administering oxygen, controlling bleeding with direct pressure and manually clearing the upper airway. 

• Those under 18 who don't wear a helmet while on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates will receive a “fix-it” ticket.

Under the new law, a citation is considered non-punitive and correctable if proof that the minor has completed a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards is presented within 120 days to the issuing law enforcement agency. 

• Get that exhaust fixed, or face a fine.

A fine will become mandatory in California, not correctable, when loud motor vehicles and motorcycles are cited. Previously, drivers could correct the violation to avoid a fine.

(6) comments


I love the new law about kids and bicycle helmets. If your kid gets a ticket for riding their bike without a helmet, they (or you) won't be fined if they can prove that they have a helmet. What is the point of even having a helmet law?? When I was a kid, I got a ticket for riding through a stop sign, even though the intersection was on the edge of town, and there wasn't a car in sight in either direction. Should I have been excused because I KNEW I should have stopped, but just didn't feel like it that day?

Gary Crabtree

Welcome to the Peoples Republic of California......


Anyone want a straw with that "whine"? LOL


Don’t you just love this state for legislating behavior? I now often forget to carry my own grocery bag so I limit my purchases to what I can carry. I’m sure businesses love that too.


Can anyone explain to me how raising the minimum wage is fair to anyone who has already put in the extra work to make *more* than minimum wage? I make one dollar closer to minimum wage every time it goes up. And, the business costs for wage increase gets passed on to the consumer, whether we get the pay bump, or not. If they are going to do this with the minimum wage, there should be an automatic bump for everyone else, as well.


You’re just being too logical. Your argument needs to be based on emotion in order to have merit.

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