Governor Jerry Brown signed 930 bills during the 2014 session, the most in a single year since he took office in 2011. He also vetoed 143 bills, or about 13 percent of the total that were sent to him.

A slew of these new laws are of potential interest, impact, benefit or threat to our clients. See the list below for a snapshot summary of just a few of the new laws, most of which went into effect January 1, 2015, unless otherwise noted.

As the governor starts his fourth term, he will be working with a legislature dominated by Democrats. Of the 120 legislators, 80 in the Assembly and 40 in the Senate, a majority, 72, will arrive with at most two years of state-level experience, and each will be able to serve for up to 12 years under relaxed term limits.

Laws

Mandatory paid sick leave

As of July 1, 2015, most working Californians will be entitled to three paid sick days a year. Some 40 percent of the workforce, 6.5 million men and women, will benefit from this change. The mandate allows local jurisdictions to adopt more generous requirements, meaning the new state law is a floor, not a ceiling. Prior to final passage of the bill, Governor Brown secured amendments to exclude home health care workers from the directive.

Privacy/cyber-data breaches

The governor signed seven pieces of privacy legislation. The most notable provides that existing data security obligations regarding personal information apply to businesses that maintain personal information, in addition to those who own or license the information.

The new law also provides that if the business providing the notification was the source of the breach, an offer to provide appropriate identity theft prevention and mitigation services must be provided at no cost, along with all information necessary to take advantage of the offer.

Lastly, California law now provides that an entity may not sell an individual’s Social Security number, except as permitted.

Ban on single-use plastic bags

California is the first state to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags. The measure includes US$2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to the production of reusable bags and lets grocers charge a 10-cent fee for paper and reusable bags. In the kind of development that can unfold only in California, implementation of the measure may be stayed because opponents claim they have submitted over 800,000 signatures to subject the new law to a referendum.  California law requires only 504,760 registered voter signatures to force a referendum of a new law.  If the signatures are certified, this new law would be on hold until the voters ratify or reject it on the 11/8/16 statewide ballot.  In the meantime, the ban will almost certainly be the subject of a very spirited and expensive political campaign.

Arbitration

Prohibits the enforcement of arbitration agreements or pre-litigation settlement agreements that require individuals to waive their right to pursue a civil action for an alleged violation of civil rights.

Yelp bill

So named (after the consumer review website) because the new law provides that a contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services can't include a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make a statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.

Film tax credits

Offers US$330 million a year in film tax credits. It was a bipartisan effort to overhaul an existing US$100 million-a-year lottery system and was in response to efforts by other states to lure film and TV production from California.

Insurance/ride-sharing companies

Requires drivers for ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to carry a minimum level of insurance. The companies supported the legislation once certain requirements were scaled back.

Professional sports teams

Disallows a tax deduction for any fine or penalty paid or incurred by an owner of a professional sports franchise, when that fine or penalty is assessed or imposed by the professional sports league that includes that franchise.

Tribal development

Establishes procedures and requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act for the purpose of avoiding or minimizing impacts to tribal cultural resources.