Even though we’re well into the new year, you may not have noticed some of the new laws that take effect in California this year.  Here’s just a few that might affect you:


Plastic bag ban:  Some plastic bags are banned in some stores.  Large grocery stores and other stores such as Walmart and Target must stop providing their customers with so-called “single use” plastic bags by July; convenience stores and pharmacies must stop in 2016.  Bags used for produce and meat are excluded, and other stores can still use them.  Grocers will be required to charge customers at least 10 cents for (recycled) paper bags, or for multi-use plastic bags, which are often a dollar or more.   The law is headed for a referendum to overturn it, so it may not go into effect.


Sick days:  After July 1, nearly all California employers must provide at least 3 paid sick days to employees after just 90 days of employment.


Chickens and eggs:  Since the passing of Proposition 2 in 2008, farm animals in California must have considerably more spacious living conditions than is the industry standard.  Now, all eggs sold in California must come from chickens enjoying that California lifestyle, which effectively bars eggs from out of state.  The result: have you seen the price of eggs lately?


Smartphone kill switches: In an effort to deter cell phone theft, starting July 1, all smartphones must have a “kill switch” allowing the owner to make the phone inoperable when not in his or her possession, i.e. if it’s lost or stolen.   Of course, this will make it technologically possible for others–like government agencies and hackers–to switch the phones off too.


Pets and restaurants:  Before this year, pets were banned from restaurants and bars, and restaurants owners faced a fine for health violations if they allowed it.  Now, those businesses are free to welcome Fido in their outdoor eating spaces.


Mail-in ballots:  Mail-in ballots have become increasingly popular.  Before this year, they had to be received no later than election day, and they could be counted along with in-person votes.  Now, they can be postmarked the day of the election, as long as they are actually received within three days of the election.  Expect more delays in finding out the results in close elections.

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