California’s New Laws for 2015, Revisited

Can you believe 2015 is almost already halfway over? Time flies! Our January newsletter brought you some of the hundreds of new laws on the books for 2015, effective immediately! But now it’s time to revisit the new laws – some that go into effect on July 1, 2015, and others that enter their secondary implementation schemes.

Let’s look at some laws!

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

Starting July 1st, 2015, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 will impose new paid sick leave requirements on virtually all California employers and businesses, no matter their size. It will guarantee all employees who work 30 days at least 3 paid sick days per year. Additionally, if the sick days aren’t used, accrued leave will then roll over to the next year.

Plaintiff’s Pseudonym

This is an interesting one that’s really trying to catch up with technology and its prevalence in sex crimes. The bill provides that a Plaintiff bringing an action for wrongful distribution of sexually explicit materials may file under a pseudonym. Both the name and identifying characteristics of the Plaintiff can be redacted from all pleadings and documents filed in the action so that while the Court itself will have Plaintiff’s true name on file, any and all public records will not. All of which is aimed at encouraging suit without the potential for public embarrassment and the attachment of the action to the Plaintiff’s name in perpetuity.

Plastic Bag Ban

The final implementation of the plastic bag ban was supposed to go into effect on July 1st, banning stores from giving single-use plastic bags for free. But, bag manufacturers weren’t going down without a fight. Opponents of the measure managed to collect enough signatures to postpone the referendum until November 2016.

Minimum Wage

Starting July 1st, all Los Angeles hotels with 300 or more rooms will have to pay the new minimum wage of $15.37 an hour, with the city council looking at raising the minimum wage in other industries as well. Compared to the state-wide minimum wage of $9, it’s quite a raise.

Prop 47, Revisited

Finally, remember Prop 47? That went into effect immediately upon passage in November 2014. The initiative passed with 60% of the vote and reduced a number of drug possession and non-violent felony charges to misdemeanors. So what has Prop 47 done in the last 7 months?

It was responsible for the release of over 3,700 inmates from California state prisons and over 100,000 applications to various courts to retroactively reduce old felonies to misdemeanors.

Now, while some may argue that any effect renders Prop 47 a success, in Los Angeles County alone, there are close to 300,000 individuals eligible for retroactive reductions. Which means there are still many people who can take advantage of the measure – if you or someone you know is or might be eligible, call us at (310) 477-2100. We can definitely help with any Prop 47 application or any other criminal matter. Let’s try and get those numbers higher!

What about the released inmates? Detractors of one of the largest shake-ups of California’s criminal justice system in decades claimed that releasing criminals would cause the crime rate to skyrocket. Well, guess what? It didn’t! While there was a slight uptick in auto theft recorded (about 15%), statisticians who track these things were unwilling to attribute the rise to Prop 47, saying that auto theft rates are volatile, rising and falling yearly for a number of different reasons.

Furthermore, with the reduced number of inmates in state and out of state prisons, Prop 47 managed to reduce California’s anticipated prison spending by $73 Million this year alone, with the savings projected to increase. Taken with the number of people who have benefited from Prop 47’s passage, it seems that Prop 47 was a great success and a confirmation of the growing belief that prisons should be reserved for serious and violent offenders, not drug addicts and drug-related charges.

Prop 47, as it pertains to reducing various drug felonies, also marks a radical shift from the last 100 years of an American criminal justice system that has been waging its war on drugs. Truly a war with no winners in sight, Prop 47 signals that perhaps a new approach may be the one to finally work.

With that, we here at JKR Law would like to introduce what’s going to be our summer newsletter series for the next few months: we’ll be looking at drug policy in the US and California, how and why we’ve waged the war on drugs, and what the future may hold. After all, state by state, marijuana has been legalized in limited uses (23 states and Washington, D.C.) and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Alternatively, the United States is dealing with an incarceration crisis the likes of which have never been seen. We’ll explore the alternatives and look at successful international models.

We’re always trying to bring you relevant, informative content about current events and legal happenings, and we can’t think of a more deserving subject that truly affects every single one of us, and with such far-reaching implications that touch on addiction, homelessness, policy, prescription coverage and healthcare, incarceration, and nationwide spending. The drought and traffic tickets may be a concern right now, but our drug policies will be a topic of debate and discussion for years to come. We hope you’ll join us!

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