During 2017, the state Legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed 859 new laws. While some were effective immediately, some will not go into effect until 2019 or 2020. Most are effective Jan. 1, 2018.

One of the most well-known was a proposition passed in November 2016.


Proposition 64 legalizes adult-use of marijuana, or cannabis, beginning Jan. 1, 2018. However, dispensaries must have a state license and the state will not issue a license in counties that do not permit the distribution and use of marijuana. That applies to the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

Those who need a frequent toke of the weed for health purposes should be aware that Senate Bill 65 treats marijuana similar to alcohol. It is illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while driving or riding in a vehicle.

Below is a small sampling of other new laws and rules with which we have to comply.

Minimum wages

On Jan. 1, California’s minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees and to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. An employee must make at least $45,760 a year to be exempt from the minimum-wage increase.

Applying for a job

When applying for a new job, employers are prohibited from asking about the applicant’s salary history, past compensation or benefits.

Assembly Bill 1008 applies to employers with five or more employees, and prohibits them from asking about criminal history on job applications. The law also prohibits inquiring about or considering criminal history at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made. Once a conditional offer is made, an employer may seek certain criminal history.

Public records

AB 1455 creates another exemption from the California Public Records Act. Now, disclosure of specific records of local agencies related to activities governed by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which governs labor management relations in government employment fields, such as wages, hours and other terms and conditions, will be exempt.

Residential wood smoke

The Legislature created the Woodsmoke Reduction Program to promote the voluntary replacement of old wood-burning stoves with cleaner and more efficient alternatives in order to achieve short- and long-term climate benefits. The bill would authorize monies from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to be allocated for incentives offered as part of the program, which air districts will implement.

Plants and extinct herbivores

As reported this summer, the Legislature has designated a state dinosaur — the Augustynolophus morissi. This creature roamed the land now known as California during the Maastrichtian Age, nearly 66 to 72 million years ago, which makes it a contemporary of other well-known dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. However, unlike its distant cousins, this early resident apparently was one of the first herbivorous Californians.

Also, the plant community was part of the Legislature’s actions. A new law designates several state nuts. The almond, walnut, pistachio and pecan are each the official state nut.

California is not the first state to designate a dinosaur, and the pecan is the state nut of Arkansas and Texas, and the black walnut is the official nut of Missouri.