New year brings new laws in California

Sacramento, Cal.- Californians will face a multitude of new laws once the new year hits, many of which will impact daily life. The laws range from minimum wage to gun ownership.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the state will start its march toward a $15 per hour minimum wage. The first step will raise the wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 for businesses with more than 25 employees. Smaller businesses won’t have to increase minimum wage until next year.

Among the new laws are rules that will change daily activities for many Californians. The state’s texting while driving ban is expanding to include using your phone for apps. The law updates definitions so it’s clear the ban on texting while driving is a ban on the use of hand-held devices in any way that may be distracting. Drivers can still use devices if they’re hands free.

Another bill impacting drivers involves child safety seats. Beginning in 2017, children younger than two must sit in a rear-facing child safety seat. The only exception is if they weigh 40 pounds are taller than 40 inches.

Gun bills are also on the menu. Under new laws, people who own magazines that hold more than 10 rounds will be required to give them up. Buyers must also undergo a background check before buying ammunition and will be barred from buying new weapons that use a device known as a bullet button.

Finally, California law makers are taking on the issue of sexual exploitation. In the new year, sexually assaulting an unconscious or severely intoxicated person will become a crime that is ineligible for probation. The change was prompted by the case against former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner who was given a six month jail sentence for assaulting an unconscious woman.

A second sex-related law bans charging people under the age of 18 with prostitution. Instead, teens will be treated as victims. The bill’s sponsors hope it will help crack down on, and end, human trafficking.

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