The New Year is always full of new beginnings, renewed commitments, and fresh promises.
In the legislative bodies, it’s also when new laws tend to take effect. This year is no exception, as 2018 has brought new laws that will affect Californians in a variety of areas. Several of these laws are highly controversial and will likely spur debate – in and out of the courtroom – in 2018.
Issues around benefits, employee rights and minimum wage have been addressed. The hot topic of immigration received support in 2018, yet it’s uncertain how the effects of lawmakers’ decisions will play out.
To prepare you for what’s to come this year, here are the top 5 controversial laws taking effect in California in 2018:
Senate Bill 54 is arguably the most controversial law to take effect in California in 2018. It officially makes California a “sanctuary state,” which directly rebukes President Trump’s plans to round up and deport undocumented immigrants. This bill limits state and local police’s ability to cooperate with the enforcement of federal immigration. It effectively makes it illegal for officers to inquire about a person’s immigration status or even detain them on a hold request as directed by the United States government (unless the person has been convicted of one of 800 specific crimes).
Also controversial, Assembly Bill 1008 1008 makes it illegal for an employer with 5 or more employees to look at the criminal history of a job applicant. Only after the applicant has received a conditional job offer can the employer conduct a background check. The goal of the bill is to improve employment prospects for those who have formerly been incarcerated. It bans the box on applications that asks about an applicant’s criminal conviction history.
3. Affordable Housing
Parties involved in real estate transactions in California will now see an additional fee ranging from $75 to $225 on their settlement statement. This charge is in effort to address what some say is a severe housing affordability crisis in California. Legislators have long been trying to craft laws that spur development of what’s considered to be affordable housing, and now there’s a law on the books that will generate up to $300 annually for these types of housing projects. Senate Bill 35 allows communities to bypass lengthy and sometimes expensive review properties for new projects if they haven’t met their state-mandated housing needs.
4. Minimum Wage
Californians who earn the lowest wages will see an increase in their minimum wage by 50 cents, bringing it to $11 per hour for workers employed at companies with 26 employees or more. Smaller businesses will need to pay a minimum wage of $10.50. This new law is part of Senate Bill 3, enacted 2 years ago, which calls for a continual annual wage hike until the minimum wage reaches $15 in 2022 for large businesses and 2023 for all companies. Many company owners and shareholders wonder what effect this will have on their ability to conduct business as usual.
5. College Tuition
California just entered the first stages of a “free college” program that will waive tuition fees for the first year for any student enrolling full time at a California community college. The fulfillment of the promise of free first-year schooling depends on how much money is in the 2018-2019 state budget, and it’s uncertain if there will be pushes for additional taxes to fund the program and continue it beyond this year.
From drugs and property to wages and safety, changes are coming but likely not without hard fights from many opponents. How will these and other new laws play out in California courts and social services? Only 2018 will tell!
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