A number of new laws went into effect on January 1, 2020 and on this episode of Inside the Issues, we take a look at some of them and what effects they might have on Southern California.

More Than 1,200 Bills Signed: Labor Laws, Health Care and Rent Increases

Many of the 1,200 bills signed by Governor Gavin Newsom included many high-profile bills like AB-5, a labor law which put restrictions on businesses who use independent contractors as employees. John Myers, Sacramento Bureau Chief for The Los Angeles Times said this law is a debate on “the nature of work.”

“This is a law that makes it harder for a number of businesses across California to use independent contractors for a variety of services, saying a lot of these tasks have to be done by people who would be considered employees,” he said.

On the health care front, California has also implemented an individual mandate, SB-78, a new health care bill that will require residents to have health insurance and those who don’t enroll will face penalties.

“It really, to me, is a fascinating push where a state can make its own rules versus a federal system,” Myers said.

Another new law, AB-1482, will place a cap on rent hikes, limiting increases to no more than 5 percent each year. The law will be in effect for 10 years.

“This will provide some expectation of what rent is going to be for renters across the entire state of California. It was hailed as a victory [and] a move in the right direction, but I think that last part is key: is it a move in a direction. I think we are going to continue to have a big conversation about, not only the cost of rent, but of course the cost of housing overall,” he said.

California Consumer Privacy Act

A new privacy law allows residents to find out what data companies are collecting about them and gives people the opportunity to ask companies to delete the data. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, CA Senate Majority Leader, has been a huge supporter of the bill, who said the bill also gives people the right to know what personal information is being collected and the right to say no to the sale of personal information.

“The value, what we’ve learned from social media and what you click on, is just extraordinarily valuable to advertisers,” Hertzberg said.

Cannabis Taxes

Cultivation and excise taxes on cannabis have increased as of the beginning of the year. Jerred Kiloh and Javier Montes, with the United Cannabis Business Association, join the show to talk about what the increases mean and how it might affect legal cannabis dispensaries in Southern California.

Montes, who owns Delta 9 THC, said he didn’t expect to lose their medical patients because of taxes when the industry first became legal and he doesn’t expect that to change.

“I think that is an area where we have to improve if we want to continue to build a strong foundation of an industry rather than one that keeps losing patients and customer,” he said.

Kiloh said the increases that start with the cultivator will ultimately be passed on to the customer.

“You go cultivator, to distributor, to retailer, to the consumer – there’s taxation in every level of the supply chain and that’s just one portion of it. I think part of the problem is, when you raise taxes at this base rate, every tax that is charged to the consumer is raised because of that base rate,” he said.

Foster Care

Governor Newsom also signed a number of bills aimed at improving the lives of children. AB-1061 is one of those bills that requires social workers and probation officers to give children a 14-day notice if they will be placed in a different home. It also requires social workers work with foster families to develop plan for the children in an effort to avoid the placement changes.

Jeremy Loudenback, Senior Editor at the Chronicles of Social Change, said foster children can have a hard time when being placed in multiple homes.

“It’s important, not only because it’s difficult to maintain and create these nourishing relationships with caregivers, it’s also tough to succeed in school when you’re bounced from school to school, and it takes a tremendous toll in terms of trauma in the brain,” he said.

Another bill, AB-686, brings changes to foster children of Native American descent. Loudenback said California has the highest number of indigenous people in the country.

“This bill tries to strengthen and create placements where children can be placed in a socially or culturally responsive environment, hopefully with other Native American families,” he said.

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