The arrival of the New Year also brings the effective date for 807 new state laws enacted in 2015 and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Minimum wage

An important law to many local businesses and shops, as well as employees, is the state’s minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Friday. This is a $1 increase from the current minimum wage.

Motor Voter Program 

Assembly Bill 1461 creates an automatic voter registration process for qualified individuals who apply for a driver’s license or identification card, or submit a change of address to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The law requires that DMV implement the New Motor Voter Act no later than one year after the secretary of state issues certain certifications, such as when the Legislature has allocated funds for the secretary of state and DMV to implement and maintain the program, and the secretary of state has adopted regulations to implement the law.


Senate Bill 178 created the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which generally requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before accessing data, such as emails and text messages, on an electronic device or from an online service provider.

Public health education

If the district requires a course in health education for high school graduation, SB 695 requires the governing board of a school district to include instruction in sexual harassment and violence.


SB 277 was enacted in 2015 despite significant dissent. Exemptions, such as personal belief, are no longer permitted to avoid childhood vaccines. However, if a physician believes the vaccine may harm the child, an exception can be granted. Starting in 2016, students must have vaccines before the new school year begins.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol specifically wants drivers aware of the following new laws:

Earbuds or headsets

SB 491 makes it unlawful to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on or inserted in, both ears while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. The exception is if the person is operating an authorized emergency vehicle, construction equipment, and refuse or waste equipment.

Driver’s license residency requirement

AB 1465 requires an applicant for an original driver license or identification card to provide proof of California state residency, starting July 1, 2016, and it will bring DMV into compliance with a federal law requirement.

Highway lane use

AB 208 amends the slow-moving passenger vehicles law, which requires them to pull over safely to let traffic pass. Bicycles will now be included in the legal requirement that slow-moving vehicles use the next available turnout or other area to let backed-up traffic — five or more vehicles — get by.

Medical marijuana

Three new bills established a statewide regulatory framework for California businesses that produce and distribute medical marijuana in the state. Collectively, they create standards for licensing businesses as well as testing, packaging, labeling and tracking marijuana products, among other things.