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5 new Calif. laws to watch in 2014

5:48 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
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More than 800 new laws take effect in California in 2014, covering just about every facet of life in the Golden State.  Dozens are important and big news.  We've picked five that, above others, are really worth watching:

Minimum Wage Hike:  California's lowest paid workers get a raise this summer to $9 an hour, the first of a two step increase that will rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.  While California still won't have the highest statewide minimum wage in the U.S., it remains ahead of the national rate of $7.25 an hour.  The hike was opposed by business groups at the state Capitol, but was embraced by Gov. Jerry Brown. By the way, keep your eye on next November's ballot -- a wealthy conservative political activist is pushing a plan to raise the minimum pay even higher.

In-Home Worker Overtime: Hotly debated over two legislative years and finally ratified by lawmakers in 2013, overtime rules will now apply to domestic workers -- those who provide child care, in-home caregivers, and others.  The 'Domestic Workers Bill of Rights' mandates OT for work beyond nine hours in one day or 45 hours in a week.  The bill was signed by Brown after other in-home worker benefits, including meal and rest breaks, were stricken from its language.

Fracking Regulation: The use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to drill oil is not a new practice in California, but its use is increasing and so have the questions about safety and local community's right to know what's being used. After a fight that lasted all of 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed what was considered a compromise law: new regulations for any well operations that use water, sand, and chemicals to 'frack' loose oil deposits. Oil drillers must now, among other changes, disclose information about the chemicals used in fracking operations. But some environmental critics still want a moratorium for more time to study the impacts of fracking, especially with all eyes on a large underground shale deposit in the state that could hold the equivalent of 15 billion barrels of oil.

Guns: Picking just one of the new laws related to guns and gun safety is hard, given the package of Democratic proposals provoked one of 2013's biggest political fights.  2014 will see a ban in California on selling kits that can enlarge ammunition clips; mandatory training classes for rifle users; and new laws for locking up firearms in homes where felons live alongside the legal owner.

TRUST Act May Limit Deportation: Among the new laws dealing with illegal immigration, California now places a strict limit on local law enforcement's ability to turn over suspected undocumented immigrants to federal officials.  The new law comes down to this: if a suspected criminal is detained by cops on a non-violent charge and then becomes eligible for release, he or she can't be turned over to the feds for possible deportation.  Some California communities already were doing this, a rejection of a more sweeping federal law for cracking down on illegal immigration.

Also... We've reported on a few other new laws in recent days, including the ban on tickets at busted parking meters, emergency exits for limousines, and the new buffer zone for bicycles on roads and highways.

John Myers is News10's political editor. Check out his Twitter feed on California politics, his Facebook page, and the weekly News10 Capitol Connection politics podcast.

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