New California Laws Include a Bag Ban & Licenses for the Undocumented

New California Laws Include a Bag Ban & Licenses for the Undocumented
Jason Devaun/Flickr

Justice in this state can often be a farce. One of the reasons is that there are way too many laws. We've contacted police to get clarification on certain laws and sometimes they're not even sure what the rules are.

It's no wonder. In 2014 alone the legislature passed more than 900 new laws. Many took effect yesterday.

Here are some of the more interesting ones that will rock your world in 2015. They include the nation's first statewide ban on dispensing free plastic bags at markets, and drivers licenses for those who came to the United States illegally.

-The plastic bag ban takes effect July 1, but ... the plastic bag industry is striking back with a proposed initiative that would ask voters to overturn the ban. Backers recently turned in more than enough signatures, 800,000-plus, to make the ballot. If those signatures are verified, the ban will be put on hold until we can all vote on it.

-Assembly Bill 60, which allows the undocumented to get drivers licenses once again in California, took effect yesterday. Until the anti-immigrant days of Pete Wilson's governorship, those here illegally were able to drive here legally. Proponents of the bill argued that our most vulnerable residents were essentially getting their most valuable possessions seized by law enforcement because they couldn't get licenses. The DMV says, starting tomorrow, 60 offices statewide and 900 new employees will be prepared to start issuing those licences.

-The "yes means yes" law, which we wrote about early on here at L.A. Weekly , went into effect yesterday. Essentially it requires public colleges to ensure that "affirmative consent" has taken place when they consider discipline following allegations of sexual assault. Sex with someone passed out, passive or nonverbal would be grounds for action under the law.

New California Laws Include a Bag Ban & Licenses for the Undocumented
UCLA via jojolae/Flickr

-Assembly Bill 1965 allows people to bring their pets to outdoor dining areas statewide. You could already do that in L.A.

-Under Senate Bill 1010, those convicted for crack possession and those convicted of powdered cocaine possession will face the same sentencing guidelines. Previously, crack convicts, often minorities, got more time for possessing the same amount of cocaine-based drug.

-Assembly Bill 1014, was inspired, in part, by the rampage at Isla Vista near UC Santa Barbara last year. The mother of 22-two-year-old Elliot Rodger had previously warned authorities that her son might be unstable, but it didn't stop him from being able to purchase three handguns. The bill allows concerned loved ones to seek a temporary restraining order on gun ownership.

-Finally, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft must soon ensure proper insurance coverage for their drivers under Assembly Bill 2293. Previously the firms relied on the personal policies of their drivers. As the Automobile Club of Southern California put it, the bill requires the companies to "buy insurance to cover them [drivers] when they are transporting passengers and when drivers are logged on to their computer dispatching program and ready to accept riders." It goes into effect July 1.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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