New year, new laws. California’s Governor Jerry Brown left his post on Jan. 7, after having signed more than 1,000 laws in his last year in office. New laws that came into effect on Jan. 1 run the gambit from plastic straw bans to gun control and will impact everything from the way California kids order Happy Meals to the amount of spirits in your local craft brewery. Below CVN editors have compiled some of the most notable laws that hit the books on Jan. 1.

Gun control

As of the new year, California has several new laws regulating gun purchases and ownership. These include:

• The minimum age for purchasing a long gun (such as, rifles and shotguns) is now 21, up from 18 (Senate Bill 1100). The law exempts law enforcement officers, members of the military and anyone who possesses a valid, unexpired hunting license.

• Individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence after Jan. 1, 2019, are prohibited from ever owning a firearm (Assembly Bill 3129).

• SB 1200 eliminates fees for requesting a Firearms Violence Restraining Order and adds ammunition and bullet drums to the list of items related to firearms that can be confiscated.

Juvenile justice

Two important changes to laws concerning California’s juvenile justice system went into effect at the start of 2019.

• SB 439 establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, unless a minor younger than 12 has committed murder or rape.  

• Per SB 1391, California may no longer prosecute 14- and 15-year-olds as adults. This eliminates the possibility—as previously allowed—of referring children under 16-years-old to adult court, and remanding them to adult prison (instead of juvenile detention), if convicted of serious crimes like murder or rape.  

Breathalyzers in cars

Californians convicted of driving under the influence will now be required to install a temporary breathalyzer device in their cars before they can get their driver’s license back (SB 1046). The device prevents the driver from starting their car unless they pass the breathalyzer test.


Craft distillers

SB 1164 raises the amount of spirits California’s craft distillers can produce, while keeping craft distillers below the production levels of the larger brewers. The law also allows craft distillers to operate more like the state’s wineries and breweries by giving them the opportunity to sell their products to visitors even when they do not taste on site.  

Plastic straws by request only

Full-service restaurants are now prohibited from handing out single-use plastic straws to customers unless they specifically request one (AB 1884). Fast food restaurants are exempt.  

Healthy child drinks in restaurants

SB 1192 mandates that children’s meals that come with a drink have a “healthy” beverage as the drink default option, such as milk, water, sparkling water or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners.  


Breeding animal sales

AB 485 prohibits pet stores from selling breeding dogs, cats and rabbits, requiring that these animals be obtained from animal shelters or rescue groups.  

Home cooking as a microenterprise

AB 626 allows cities and counties to authorize and regulate the sale of homemade foods. Cooks who sell food prepared out of their homes are now legally allowed to sell their items, provided they’ve secured a permit.

Nonbinary gender option on driver’s licenses

As of Jan.1, there will be three gender options for California driver’s license applicants: male, female or nonbinary. This change is part of SB 179, which as of September 2018, eliminated the requirement of a clinical gender transition for a person petitioning the court to recognize a change in gender and conforming name change.   

Sexual harassment claims at work

SB 1300 prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign non-disparagement or non-disclosure agreements for harassment claims in exchange for employment, a raise or bonus.  


Police transparency

AB 748 requires public disclosure within 45 days of any police body camera images or audio recordings involving shooting or excessive force by police.  


Overtime for agricultural workers

AB 1066 mandates that agricultural workers receive overtime payment, incrementally raising wages for extra hours over a period of four years.

Breastfeeding at work

Employers are now required to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or place for breastfeeding that is not a bathroom (AB 1976).

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