The New Year marks not only the beginning or boycotting of 2016 resolutions. On January 1, the 807 bills Governor Jerry Brown this year signed into existence will also go into effect. From hoverboards to high school health class to gun control, here are some of the most interesting new laws:

Electric Bikes

Thanks to the CHP, electric bikes have been divided into three classes based on their speed. Electric bike aficionados should know they’re legally allowed to ride on bike paths, but riders must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet if their bike travels up to 28 mph. Most electric bikes, however, are geared to max out at 20 mph. Breaking AB 1096 is equivalent to violating the California Vehicle Code.


The new year marks the start of California’s commitment to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030. State Senate leader Kevin de León and 37th District Assemblymember Das Williams wrote SB 350, which works together with Williams’ SB 802 — the new law allowing utility companies like PG&E to incentivize building owners who rebuild to strict energy efficiency standards.

Equal Pay

In 2016, California employers must pay women and men the same for “substantially similar work.” Authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, SB 358 targets the gender wage gap by broadening existing equal pay for equal work laws. The law puts the onus on employers to justify any wage discrepancies between male and female employees. The new law also protects from retaliation women who ask about their colleagues’ salaries.

Grocery Store Jobs

Following the Albertsons-Safeway merger and subsequent demise of the Haggen grocery chain, which cost hundreds of California grocery workers their jobs, AB 359 requires stores to retain employees for 90 rather than 60 days after the store changes owners. In September, Haggen announced over 3,400 employees in its southwest market would be laid off right before Thanksgiving. In 2016, workers can still be fired during the transitional period, but the law encourages new owners to consider hiring existing employees.


Despite much opposition from gun rights lobbyists, SB 707 bans those allowed to carry guns from bringing them to K-12 schools and college campuses without campus permission. The penalty is at least a misdemeanor and possibly a felony. “Honorably retired” law enforcement officers, however, are exempt in this law sponsored by the California College and University Police Chiefs Association.

From the desks of Assemblymembers Williams and 15th District representative Nancy Skinner in response to the Isla Vista killings, AB 1014 lets concerned family members obtain a gun restraining order preventing potentially violent relatives from owning a gun for 21 days. The family must still go through a judicial process to do so.

Toy guns must be brighter colored, fluorescent, or translucent in order to prevent cops from mistaking children’s air-soft guns for the real thing. SB 199 is spurred by, among other incidents, the 2013 deputy shooting of a 13-year-old boy in Santa Rosa. Andy Lopez was killed when a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy mistook his toy gun for a deadly weapon.


Drivers and bicyclists beware: under SB 491 it’s against the law to wear headphone earbuds, headsets, or earplugs covering both ears while driving or riding.

High School

The high school class of 2016 will graduate without having to pass the exit exam, which is being canned because it’s no longer aligned with California’s Common Core Standards. SB 172 exempts high school seniors from the test through the 2017-2018 school year. Even students, had they passed the exam, would have graduated as early as 2004, can apply for their diploma.


After a deadly or near-deadly hit-and-run incident, the CHP may broadcast identifying information about the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle on freeway changeable message signs. Effective the first day of the new year, AB 8’s “Yellow Alert” notifications let the public help authorities in their search for hit-and-run suspects.


In California at least, helmeted and sober riders 16 years or older may ride “electronically motorized boards” — AKA hoverboards, which max out at 13 mph — down bike paths and roads with 35 mph or lower speed limits. Electric skateboards, on the other hand, travel up to 25 mph. AB 604 is the first to allow riding moto boards on public streets, since gas-powered ones were banned in 1977 for their noise and petrol-using tendencies. To break this law is to face up to $250 in fines.

Minimum Wage

It may not seem like much compared to the City of Los Angeles’ $15-per-hour minimum wage by 2020, but California’s minimum wage will rise from $9 to $10 on January 1, 2016 under AB 10.

Missing Persons

This year, “Silver Alerts” announcing senior citizens and developmentally disabled individuals who have gone missing will not just be broadcasted via TV, radio, and public safety warnings. Freeway changeable message signs will run the alerts when the incident involves a car under AB 643.

Online Privacy

Slightly late to the 21st century, a new law requires law enforcement officials to get a search warrant before reading through a person’s texts, emails, or browsing history. SB 178 justifies itself under the Fourth Amendment.

Racial Profiling

The #BlackLivesMatter movement prompted two new laws intended to curb racial profiling and use of excessive force by law enforcement. By 2018, California police must record the perceived race, ethnicity, age, and gender of each person they stop, as well as the reason for the stop and the outcome, under AB 953.

Similarly, by 2018 AB 619 says authorities must report all incidents in which officers use force resulting in serious injury or death — including those that occur in custody — to the Attorney General.

Sex Ed

AB 329 makes it mandatory for students to study sexual education unless their parents specifically opt them out. Additionally, under the new law each sex ed class should include more education on H.I.V. prevention and different sexual identities.

Slower Cyclists

Bikes are now included in a state law that requires slower-moving vehicles to safely pull over and let others pass when a line of at least five cars or bikes has formed behind them. Citing the difficulty to abide by California’s three-feet passing law on narrow roads, lawmakers call AB 208 a transportation safety law, the penalty for which is breaking California’s Vehicle Code.

Uber and Lyft

Under AB 1422, Uber and Lyft must regularly review employees’ drivers’ licenses as part of the DMV’s mandatory employer pull notice program. Taxi companies are already required to monitor their employees’ licenses, as well as perform criminal background checks.


Before starting school next year, public and private school children alike must prove they’re fully vaccinated. Prompted by a Disneyland measles outbreak, SB 277 repeals the 1961 law giving parents the right to file personal-belief exemptions instead of vaccinating their children, although they may still request a doctor’s note.


AB 1464 says eligible voters will now be automatically registered to vote when they apply for a new drivers’ license, California State I.D. card, or change their address at the DMV.

Yes Means Yes

In school districts listing health class as a high school graduation requirement, SB 695 says those classes must teach “yes means yes.” The law, authored by Senators Jackson and de León, adds confirmative consent to the curriculum in high school health class.


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