California Laws You Should Know That Start Jan. 1, 2016

In 2015, Californians wanted bold, progressive action on gas prices, toxics regulation and ratepayer protection against back room dealings with regulated utilities. But instead, the public too often saw meaningful reform watered down or dumped.

Proposals such as reducing the state's petroleum use by 50% by 2030, protecting groundwater from fracking waste, demanding transparency from oil companies manipulating the price and supply of oil, and shutting down polluting facilities operating for decades without permits failed to be approved.

But all was not lost. There was progress made when it came to privacy, employment and environmental protections. Below are just some of the positive changes that will be effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Privacy 
 
SB 570 (Hannah-Beth Jackson) - Consumer Notification of Data Breach: Proscribes specific notification that companies doing business in California must provide to California residents upon obtaining knowledge of a data breach that includes the residents’ personal information.
Provides “model” disclosure.
 
SB 178 (Leno) - The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) protects Californians against warrantless law enforcement access to private electronic communications such as emails, text messages and GPS data that are stored in the cloud and on smart phones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices.
 
AB 1116 (Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection) Prohibits the use of voice recognition in a connect television without notice.
 
SB 34 (Hill) - Requires security protections for data collected by automatic license plate readers. It also requires public disclosure about the use or acquisition of the technology by a public agency and requires all operators to have a privacy policy that is posted on their website.
 
SB 1177 (Steinberg) - Prohibits an operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application from knowingly engaging in targeted advertising to students or their parents or legal guardians, using covered information to amass a profile about a K–12 student, selling a student’s information, or disclosing covered information, as provided. The bill would require an operator to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the covered information, to protect the information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure, and to delete a student’s covered information if the school or district requests deletion of data under the control of the school or district. Authorizes the disclosure of covered information of a student under specified circumstances. 
 
Consumer Protection
 
SB 386 (Allen) - Unlawful “Pension Poaching”: Includes, as an unlawful practice prohibited under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the act known as “pension poaching” or the advertising, offering for sale, or selling of a financial product that promises a lump sum of money in exchange for signing over the future monthly benefits of a veteran.
 
SB 641 (Wieckowski) - Fair Debt Buying Practices Act: Allows a consumer, in limited circumstances, to file a motion to default or set aside a default judgment so the consumer can challenge the validity of the debt in court.
 
Employment
 
SB 358 (Hannah-Beth Jackson) - Expands California’s existing equal pay law and goes further than federal law by placing the burden on the employer to prove a man’s higher pay is based on factors other than gender. Also protects workers from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn, though it doesn’t require that employers provide that information. Workers also may sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does “substantially similar” work.
 
AB 1509 (R.Hernandez) – Prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who is a family member of an employee who made a protected complaint.  The bill extends the protections to an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or was perceived to engage in, the protected conduct or make a complaint protected the law.
 
Healthcare 
 
AB 1073 (Ting) - Requires a pharmacist to use professional judgment to provide a patient with directions for use of a prescription that enhance the patient's understanding of those directions, consistent with the prescriber's instructions. The bill would also require a dispenser, excluding a veterinarian, upon the request of a patient or patient's representative, to provide translated directions for use as prescribed. The bill would authorize a dispenser to use translations made available by the California State Board of Pharmacy pursuant to those existing regulations.
 
AB 1337 (Linder) - Requires a medical provider or attorney, as defined, to provide an electronic copy of a medical record that is maintained electronically upon request . The bill would also require a medical provider to accept a prescribed authorization form once completed and signed by the patient if the medical provider determines that the form is valid. 
 
Environment
 
AB 273 ( by Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee) - Increases the interest rate charged on billed but unpaid invoices owed to the DTSC.
 
AB 274 (by Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee) - Allows DTSC to cut its losses on low-dollar uncollected projects valued at less than $5,000 and enable DTSC to more expeditiously cut through the backlog of outstanding costs and free up resources to address larger, higher priority cleanup costs.
 
AB 275 (by Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee) - Adjusts state's statutes of limitations (SOL) for cost recovery, which will give DTSC more flexibility to pursue more cost recovery cases in state court and have a greater success rate recovering its costs before statutes of limitations expire without putting taxpayer dollars on the line to cover cleanup costs.  
 
AB 276 (by Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee) - Gives the authority to DTSC to ask parties to submit pertinent financial information would allow DTSC to identify those potentially responsible parties who genuinely lack the ability to pay for clean-up and no longer require DTSC to first sue these parties to obtain financial information. 
 
AB 1075 (Alejo) - Closes a loophole that allows repeat violators to continue operating a hazardous waste treatment facility by requiring permit revocation if a facility has three violations over a five year period or if the public health is threatened.
 
Insurance
 
SB 546 (Leno) - Requires rate review and prior approval of rates for health plans and insurers that sell coverage in the large group market. 
 
AB 1131 (Dababneh) - Permits life  insurance carriers, agents and brokers to electronically send documents and conduct transactions related to life insurance and annuities. 
 
AB 1163 (Rodriguez) - Prohibits a material change, as defined, made to the terms and conditions of a contract between a health care service plan and a solicitor, or a health insurer and a life agent, from becoming effective until the plan or insurer has delivered to the solicitor or life agent written or electronic notice of the change or changes to the contract, within a specified time period. These provisions would not apply if the material change is agreed to by the plan or insurer and the solicitor or agent or if the change at issue is required pursuant to state or federal law.
 
Elections 
 
SB 439 (Allen) - Allows counties to offer conditional voter registration and provisional voting at satellite offices other than on election day.
 
SB 365 (Pavley) Allows elections officials to set up secure drop boxes throughout a community where people can leave vote-by-mail ballots.   
 
Transparency
 
SB 21 (Hill) - Increases reporting about the special interests who pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawmaker travel arranged by nonprofits, including where they went. 
 
AB 990 (Bonilla) - Expands disclosure requirements for campaign pieces from independent groups, who often play a major role in legislative campaigns. 

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