New 2015 laws: Hollywood wins, in-home care loses

New 2015 laws: Hollywood wins, in-home care loses

wikNew Year’s Day sure wasn’t a holiday from new regulations: 2015 brings 931 new laws Californians must obey. Some took effect on Jan. 1; others will later in the year.

State lawmakers — with the approval of Gov. Jerry Brown — have changed how consumers shop for groceries, how Hollywood blockbusters are funded and how much time you get off work when you’re sick.

Perhaps the most talked about new law, the country’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, also is the least likely to go into effect. Under Senate Bill 270, by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, grocery stores and markets would be banned from distributing plastic bags on July 1. Stores would also be forced to charge customers at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag, the proceeds of which can go toward offsetting the cost of complying with the new regulation.

However, a manufacturing trade group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, has channeled consumer anger over the new state regulation into a successful petition drive. Earlier this week, the group turned in more than 800,000 petition signatures to county registrars in an effort to qualify a referendum for the 2016 ballot. If the measure qualifies for the ballot, the law would be delayed until voters decided its fate in Nov. 2016.

Hooray for Hollywood handouts

While the outcome of the state’s plastic bag ban remains in doubt, there’s no doubt Hollywood will have its handout in the new year. Assembly Bill 1839, authored by Assemblymen Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, and Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, would more than triple California’s corporate welfare program for film and television programs.

Under the state’s current subsidy program, the California Film Commission gives away $100 million in tax credits to big studios that keep production in California. The new law will increase that corporate welfare fund to $330 million per year for the next five years. It also changes how the funds are distributed, linking the size of the welfare to the number of jobs created by the project.

“In the last 15 years, film production has dropped nearly 50 percent in California,” said Senate GOP leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, a co-author of the corporate welfare bill. “When that happens, it’s the ‘behind the scenes’ workers who take a hit, as well the ancillary businesses that serve the production sites and teams. If California is going to get these jobs back, we must compete with other states and nations who are clamoring for that big movie business.”

Yet taxpayers often fail to see an adequate return on their investment, as CalWatchdog.com reported earlier this year, “A recent Legislative Analyst’s Office report concluded that the Golden State is actually failing to recoup its supposed investment in keeping the entertainment industry local, losing some 35 cents on the dollar.”

In-home workers excluded from new paid sick leave

As the state gives away hundred of millions of dollars to Hollywood studios, it simultaneously claims it can’t afford to extend a new perk to in-home care workers. AB1522, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, requires all companies to provide their employees up to three paid sick days per year.

But the new law, which takes effect on July 1, excludes 365,000 in-home support service workers. The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill and included it in its list of 2014 “job-killers.”

Why did the Democratic-controlled Legislature abandon the state’s low-paid workers and exclude government from the new regulation?

“At the end of the day,” Gonzalez told the union-backed Capitol & Main blog, “we were forced to take that specific group out.  It was a condition of having the bill signed by Gov. Brown.”

Brown objected to the $82 million annual price tag to hold the state to the same regulations as private businesses. The cost of providing sick days to in-home workers was less than the current Hollywood subsidy program.

Other new laws in California

Redevelopment Revival

AB229, by Assemblyman John Perez, D-Los Angeles, allows local governments to create Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts to revive old military bases. These districts could issue 30 years of debt with the approval of two-thirds of voters in the district.

SB628, by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, revives redevelopment agencies under a new name, “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.” These districts would be allowed to “finance public capital facilities or other specified projects of community-wide significance” with the approval of 55 percent of voters in the district.

New Gun Laws: 

AB1964, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, bans gun shop owners from selling single-shot handguns that can be altered into semi-automatic weapons.

AB1014, by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, creates a new restraining order that allows the confiscation of firearms when a person is determined to be “an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another.”

New Laws in the Bedroom: 

SB1255, by state Sen. Anthony Cannella, D-Modesto, expands California’s “revenge porn” ban against posting intimate images of unwilling or unaware people on the Internet, including selfies.

SB967, by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, requires colleges to develop instruction manuals informing students that sexual activity requires affirmative consent.

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