The beginning of 2015 marked the entrance of 930 new laws into the California legislature. Here are some of the most pertinent ones:
1. “Yes Means Yes” in Universities: An “affirmative consent” policy must be adopted by all universities in order to receive state financial aid.
2. Cal Grant: Several changes are being made, including the requirement for high schools to submit every graduating senior’s GPA electronically for consideration. This will increase the number of Cal Grant recipients.
3. Student Loans: Persons who have entered the country illegally are now allowed to apply for state-funded student loans for the University of California and California State University schools.
4. Lessons of Genocide: School curriculums will be updated in 2015 to include instruction on the 1915 Armenian Genocide as well as the massacres in Rwanda and Darfur. Lessons must contain oral accounts from survivors and other witnesses.
5. Ban on Plastic Bags: Grocery stores must stop using single-use plastic bags and begin distributing reusable ones instead. If plastic bags are distributed, shoppers must be charged 10 cents, as many counties have already implemented.
6. No More Pump-As-You-Please: Local governments are mandated to implement groundwater management plans, and the state will intervene as it sees necessary.
7. Sustainable Food: Landlords cannot prevent residents from growing their own fruits and vegetables in portable containers.
8. “Selfie Revenge Porn” Protection: Previously, the law did not protect sexual harassment victims who had their self-taken nude photographs exposed online without their permission; now, nude “selfies” will also warrant legal action.
9. Privacy from Drones: Taking photographs with drones will be considered an invasion of privacy in some cases and prosecuted appropriately.
10. Gender Rights: Transgender persons will be allowed to have whichever gender they identified with listed on their death certificate, instead of being forced to use their documented gender.
11. Birth Certificates: Same-sex couples have the option of listing themselves as “Parent” on their children’s birth certificates instead of being required to use the terms “Mother” or “Father.”
12. Animal Rights: Eggs laid or sold in California must come from hens that were allowed enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and stretch their limbs. The same standards apply for calves for veal and pregnant pigs.
13. “Audrie’s Law”: In retribution for Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after being sexually assaulted by her high school peers while unconscious at a party, juveniles who force sexual acts onto those in a “defenseless state” will face more severe sentences.
14. Drivers’ Licenses: Residents staying in California illegally are now eligible to apply for state driver’s licenses.
15. Healthy Workers: Anyone who works in California, including full-time, part-time and temporary employees, for at least 30 days in a year is entitled to paid sick leave.