On Jan. 1, a slew of new California laws will go into effect, courtesy of our lopsided Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown's liberal signing pen.
In all, the governor signed 800 regular session bills, including the controversial Assembly Bill 1266 - the so-called "bathroom bill" for transgender students that has parents and lawmakers clamoring for its repeal. He declined to sign 96 bills. Some of the new laws will make substantial revisions in important areas.
Changes will include a new minimum wage, added protections for immigrants and expanded leaves of absence. Others will make minor changes to existing laws affecting specific industries, such as garment manufacturers and car wash firms.
The first minimum wage hike won't become effective until July 1 when the current $8 per hour rate will go to $9 per hour. A second boost will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, when the wage threshold will become $10 per hour.
Undocumented immigrants - beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, or whenever the Department of Motor Vehicles' director executes a specific declaration, whichever is sooner - can obtain California driver's licenses. Some specific requirements must be met including proof of identity and residency in the state plus written and behind-the-wheel exams.
A new law permits the state to suspend or revoke an employer's business license where that employer reports, or threatens to report, the immigration status of any employee because the employee makes a complaint about employment issues. It also allows for disbarment of attorneys for similar conduct against witnesses or parties in a lawsuit.
Changes in leaves of absence laws will include time off for crime victims, for emergency duty and paid family leave benefits. In addition, leaves may be approved for victims of stalking and accommodation for domestic violence and sexual assault.
Garment manufacturers face a civil penalty for failure to display his or her name, address and registration number at the front entrance of the premises.
Car wash establishments will face an increase in the bond requirement from $15,000 to $150,000, but employers are exempted from the bond requirement if they have collective bargaining agreements in place that meet specified criteria.
One California law enacts the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which provides for specific overtime pay for certain in-home employees; a "domestic work employee who is a personal attendant." The state law takes effect on Jan. 1, and a similar federal law will take effect Jan. 1, 2015.
Another law creates a criminal penalty for an employer who fails to remit withholdings from an employee's wages that were made pursuant to state, local or federal law.
The California shield law will be strengthened to protect reporters' records held by third parties.
A constitutional amendment places a measure on the June 2014 ballot to amend the California Constitution to require local agencies to comply with the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act. It would apply to any subsequent amendments that further the constitutional provisions on public access to public agency meetings and records.
If you're a business owner you are encouraged to check with the California Chamber of Commerce or any bureaucracy that may be empowered to enforce one or more of the new rules that could directly or indirectly affect you.
More details on many of the laws affecting businesses can be viewed on calchamber.com/newlaws2014.
Good luck as you attempt to thrive financially in our heavily over-regulated state.