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New Calif. laws try to help employees, immigrants

By
From page A5 | December 29, 2013 | 16 Comments

SACRAMENTO — As California’s economy recovers, the Democrats who control the state Legislature put a priority on assisting more vulnerable workers with some of the laws taking effect in the new year.

Low-income workers, immigrants in the country illegally, domestic caregivers and farm laborers will benefit from bills lawmakers passed in 2013. Also among the hundreds of new laws are ones that will give rights and protections to transgender students, same-sex couples, women seeking abortions, the homeless, prison inmates who committed their crimes as juveniles and celebrities with young children.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed 805 bills into law in 2013, while vetoing 96.

The Democratic leaders of the Assembly and Senate said one of their goals was to assist workers still reeling from the recession. They did so, often over the objections of Republicans who said the laws will harm the state’s business climate.

Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, called 2013 “a banner year for workers” in the state and said the benefits of the legislation would be felt immediately.

“California has really established itself as a national leader in terms of protecting the rights of workers, and that’s exactly where we should be, in our view,” he said.

In the most far-reaching move, minimum-wage earners will be paid $9 an hour starting July 1, the first of two dollar-an-hour boosts that will push the base wage to $10 by 2016, giving the state one of the nation’s highest rates.

Other benefits and protections take effect Jan. 1.

Domestic workers now must be paid time-and-a-half if they work more than nine hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week, although baby sitters are exempt from the mandate. California follows Hawaii and New York in offering certain protections to in-home caregivers.

Another law requires that workers in industries such as agriculture and landscaping get rest breaks during hot weather.

Immigrants in the country illegally receive several new rights and protections.

It is a crime for employers to report workers to immigration authorities in retaliation for work-related complaints and for anyone to extort money from those in the country illegally by threatening to report their legal status.

Local law enforcement agencies can no longer detain immigrants for deportation if they are arrested for a minor crime and otherwise are eligible to be released from custody. Law enforcement agencies also are prohibited from requiring immigration or citizenship papers before releasing crime reports and other public records.

Immigrants who are not U.S. citizens can assist voters casting a ballot, and lawyers who are in the country illegally can be licensed to practice law.

A law granting immigrants who are in the country illegally the right to a driver’s license will take effect in 2015.

Other new laws add job protections for victims of domestic violence and other crimes. Employers cannot fire an employee who has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, nor can they dismiss a worker who is the victim of certain crimes and takes time off for a court hearing.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the minimum wage increase, which it warned will drive up costs for all businesses and consumers. Other laws affecting workers add to the cumulative impact on employers, the chamber said.

“We already have some of the most onerous labor laws in the country,” said Jennifer Barrera, a labor policy advocate with the chamber. “When you add the new laws, we are concerned about the increased burden on employers.”

Professional athletes who spend most of their careers with teams based in other states were among the few workers to lose a job-related protection. They face restrictions in filing workers’ compensation claims for cumulative trauma incurred during their professional careers.

On a major social issue, California went its own way in expanding abortion rights, while some other state legislatures work to limit access to abortions.

During the first trimester, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants will be allowed to perform aspiration abortions, which involve inserting a tube and using suction to terminate a pregnancy. Legislators also made permanent an existing law that makes it illegal to damage or block access to abortion clinics.

At the same time, California becomes the fifth state to let judges declare that a child has more than two legal parents if it is in the child’s best interest.

Among the most high-profile bills is one that allows transgender students to choose which restroom to use and whether to play on boys’ or girls’ sports teams, unless opponents are successful in putting the question before voters on the November ballot and stop the law from taking effect.

Another law will give transgender people an easier time changing their names and updating their birth certificates after July if they have sex-change operations.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 16 comments

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  • Tax PayerDecember 29, 2013 - 6:23 am

    wow, more rights for persons in this state illegally. This is all a democratic strategy to increase their voters in the state. Going down the toilet California. Criminals committing minor crimes like identity theft will not be deported. Transgenders decide which restroom to go into. When does this madness stop?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerDecember 29, 2013 - 6:26 am

    What about going after those that defraud social security disability, medicare, unemployment benefits, SNAP etc. Those that cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Oh yeah, why not do something to help the taxpayers?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterDecember 29, 2013 - 8:14 am

    “California has really established itself as a national leader in terms of protecting the rights of workers," said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation. A quarter of the people in the state are here illegally... and you call that protecting the rights of the workers? You are a sick, sick man, Mr Smith.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 29, 2013 - 8:41 am

    You can't make this stuff up, folks. Welcome to Wackyfornia!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelDecember 29, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    Actually, you are just making this stuff up. A quarter of California's population are illegal aliens? Try doing some fact-checking. Also, California's illegal population is down about 200,000 in the past few years. Most of the influx was on Bush II's watch. Do we thank President Obama for shipping them out?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterDecember 29, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    That's because, Mike, California has got so bad that even the illegals are leaving. And that's all on the Demoncrats in Sacramento. (I don't like Republicans either... it's just that they have NO power in California... so it's pretty hard to blame them for anything here.)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelDecember 29, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    The failed economy has a lot to do with the immigrants leaving, true. Do you blame Obama for that too?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 29, 2013 - 9:32 am

    "Immigrants who are in the country illegally" are actually illegal aliens, not "immigrants." The term "immigrant" somehow seems to legitimize their presence here, and I guess that's why the lamestreams insist on using it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensDecember 29, 2013 - 10:09 am

    Your state is like Carthage---hated and most deservedly needing to be killed and salted over.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 29, 2013 - 2:03 pm

    Mike: I was commenting on the AP story and their use of the phrase "immigrants in the country illegally" to describe illegal aliens. That's all. Do you see any need for fact-checking on my part there? GMAB!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelDecember 29, 2013 - 2:42 pm

    Mr. S, Here's your break: You guys just regurgitate crud back and forth into each other's mouths and then complain about the bad taste. Try to actually think about what you say and whether or not it is true, not simply if it rings true to your internal set of biases.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ?December 29, 2013 - 2:49 pm

    Hillary can't even control her Demons properly....and you return to that vomit?......Will not say anything bad about them?....When they are every bit as much Illuminati as the Bushes? What about an attempt to educate your fellow Democrats about the true nature of the Clintons?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelDecember 29, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    When did you change the name of your alter ego to Hilary?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithDecember 29, 2013 - 3:46 pm

    Hard to dialog with someone who is stuck on monolog. I'm forced to conclude you still haven't actually read my post, yet you instinctively strike out with your MSNBC-driven party line. Have a good day, Shultzie!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelDecember 29, 2013 - 5:04 pm

    Once again, i am not reporting an abusive comment. I am reporting, again that the two buttons are too close together for someone trying to use their phone to comment. Mr.S, if you are irritated and think my responses consist of a monolog without consideration of your input, imagine how it deels to watch two people comment and high five each other using completely false informatiin. I simply ask that you guys do a little thinking before you post. It may cut down on the absudities being peddled as truth.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Salty DogDecember 29, 2013 - 11:37 pm

    Hey mike if the buttons are to close for you to type and send a comment with your phone why not try using your computer.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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