With a particularly difficult year in the rearview mirror and a brand new year on the horizon, a number of new laws are about to come into effect. Many are deployed without notice and affect only small subsets of the general population. But a few specifics caught our attention, from tax laws to police reforms to an increased minimum wage.
Everything about the Benjamin
The state minimum wage continues its gradual but steady upward trend, rising to $ 14 an hour on January 1st. But Sonoma workers get an extra pay per hour: As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in the City of Sonoma is $ 15 per hour for large employers (26 or more workers) and $ 14 per hour for small employers (25 or less) employees ).
Hang up and drive
While it has long been illegal to drive a handheld cell phone, a new law offers an incentive for those who are still tempted by distractions. Instead of just imposing a fine, a penalty point will be added to their driving report after July 1st for scoffers with two quotations within 36 months. Points correlate directly with individual insurance rates for good reason: Experts claim that one in four accidents in the US can be attributed to using a cell phone while driving.
In response to the unstoppable spread of COVID-19, employers must now inform workers of a possible exposure within one working day. Written notice must be provided along with information on all COVID-related benefits available to affected employees and the CDC-aligned disinfection plan the employer intends to follow after exposure. Should an outbreak occur – defined as three or more cases within 14 days – the employer must also notify their local health authority within 48 hours.
Dangerous police keep banned
In response to outcry over the death of George Floyd and other high profile deaths by officials across the country last year, California lawmakers passed laws banning the police’s use of choke handles and carotid restraints. AB 1196 mandates the amendment of the use of force guidelines for law enforcement agencies across the state and provides the resources necessary for retraining. In a similar effort to rename the public image of law enforcement officers, uniforms resembling military clothing or made from camouflage material are now banned nationwide.
Lions, tigers … and dogs?
If you’ve ever dreamed of running away to join the circus you won’t find lions, tigers and bears there, oh no! California joins New Jersey and Hawaii and is the third state to prohibit the use of all animals in circuses with the exception of domesticated dogs, cats, and horses. The exotic animals that have been on display for years have suffered terrible, almost constant stress. Circuses have become increasingly popular anyway; The world’s greatest show – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – ended its 146-year run in 2017.
Property tax law
If you were planning on passing your pied-à-terre on to the kids, you may want to get things straight before February. With the narrow passage of sentence 19, inherited properties are revalued by the helmsman to reflect the current value, unless the heir uses it as his primary residence. Prop 19 also allows homeowners 55 and older to transfer the tax base of a lower-cost home a total of three times, which – around these parts recently – could affect a whole range of people.
In case of emergency
After January 1st, emergency vehicles routinely use hi-low sirens as an abbreviation to indicate the need for an emergency evacuation. The distinctive sound is slightly different from the rise and fall of a traditional siren and should speed decision-making when it is needed most. Hear the hi-low in the distance and the way forward is free: take the bag and the family and vamoose.
Puff Puff Pass
After a long, strange journey and a few public dropouts, Sonoma City Council eventually selected Sparc as the only cannabis dispensary operator for the city. Sparc is likely to have opened a store on Sonoma Highway by the middle of the year to provide easy access for local enthusiasts. With measure X, which is carried out with a gap of almost 4 to 1, a surcharge of 4 percent is levied on these purchases. While sonomans have easier proximity and quicker access to their medical gums, they pay a little more for the privilege.
The California Fire Department is supported by thousands of firefighters who, once released, often find that their services are no longer needed. Recognizing the inherent folly of previous standards, AB 2147 flips the script for ex-criminals. Now, those who complete the California Conservation Camp program can see their criminal records cleared, opening the door to careers as a firefighter for former inmates who have found a new purpose. Perpetrators of violent crimes such as murder and rape are excluded, but other less egregious crimes can be forgiven. In a similar act, voters approved Proposition 17 and granted probation officers who had previously been banned from participating in the democratic process the right to vote.
Gun control increased
In California, individuals are prohibited from purchasing more than one pistol in a 30 day period. Arms dealers who have been notified by the Justice Department that a buyer has made more than one application will also be prosecuted for carrying out the sale. Starting July 1, 2021, the same bans will be extended to semi-automatic center fire rifles, reducing the chances of a madman with a dark plan having supplies.
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