Topping the list of laws that Californians should be aware of are two that address social media rights.
Social media, education, employment
Assembly Bill 1844 prohibits employers from demanding social media-related material, such as usernames and passwords, from employees or applicants for jobs. Employers are also banned from discharging or disciplining employees who refuse to divulge such information.
A similar social media law, Senate Bill 1349, protects the Facebook pages and similar sites of college students and prospective students from the prying eyes of officials at private colleges.
Assembly Bill 1729 allows the superintendent of a school district or the principal of a school to consider disciplinary options other than suspension or expulsion.
Age-appropriate alternatives can be used instead if they are designed to address and correct the specific misbehavior.
The law specifies that other means of correction may include behavior support with tiered interventions on campus; a conference among school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian and the pupil; participation in a restorative justice program; and after-school programs that address specific behavioral issues or expose pupils to positive activities and behaviors.
Under Assembly Bill 1964, the Fair Employment and Housing Act will be expanded to include religious dress and grooming practices to the list of protected categories. The act already safeguards people from discrimination based on race, creed, color or sex.
Rules of the road
Those who hit the state’s roads also face several changes that go into effect Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs will no longer have the option of providing law enforcement officers with urine samples under Assembly Bill 2020. Instead, such drivers will be required to have blood drawn.
According to Tracy-area California Highway Patrol spokesman Adam Shelton, a similar change was made 10 to 15 years ago to require suspected drunken drivers to provide a blood sample, as opposed to the option of a urine test.
“Blood is more accurate,” Shelton said Wednesday, Dec. 26.
Another new law — Senate Bill 1047 — enables the CHP to enact a statewide alert for a missing senior citizen that is similar to the Amber Alert system for missing children.
Shelton said information about any person age 65 or older who is missing in unexplained or suspicious circumstances; who is considered in danger due to age, health or disability; or who is in the company of a potentially dangerous person may be issued throughout California as part of a Silver Alert.
Assembly Bill 1708 allows drivers to provide officers with proof of auto insurance or registration via an electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
When prom season rolls around, parents will want to be aware of Assembly Bill 45, which requires someone who is at least 25 years old be present when teens are aboard a chartered transport that carries open alcohol containers. According to the law, the adult rider will be responsible for ensuring that the minors do not drink.
Fans of the late Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president and California governor, will be happy to know that Assembly Bill 2358 authorized the construction of a memorial statue at the California State Capitol in Sacramento at no cost to taxpayers. Expenses will be paid through private donations to the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation.
The Legislature increased fines related to animal fighting by passing Senate Bill 1145. The law boosts fines from $5,000 to $10,000 for individuals who arrange animal fight for amusement or gain; who own fighting animals; or who make, buy or sell implements used in such activities. The law also increases the fine for animal-fight spectators from $1,000 to $5,000.
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