New California Legislative Bills That Affect the Legal Community

This past month has seen many amendments and changes to California’s laws. While changes in the legislature are nothing new, many of the recent changes mark rather interesting and significant departures from existing laws.

Some of the More Significant Changes:

  • Personal income taxes: Among the more notable changes is a shift in the California tax code to conform to the federal tax code. This change provides for the same extension permitted under federal law, in addition to the discharge of debt for related penalties and interest. Moreover, these changes are retroactive and apply immediately.
  • Worker’s Compensation: Prior to the change in this law, California required the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to establish a priority conference calendar for cases where an attorney represents the employee and the disputed issues are employment or injury. The change in the law adds additional requirements, providing for priority status in cases where the employee is or was employed by an illegally uninsured employer.
  • Concussions: The bill prohibits high school and middle school football teams of school districts, charter schools, or private schools that elect to offer an athletic program from conducting more than 2 full-contact practices per week during the preseason and regular season, as defined. The bill also prohibits the full-contact portion of a practice from exceeding 90 minutes a day, and completely prohibits full-contact practice during the off-season.
  • Family law proceedings: Prior to a change in the law, before the commencement of a proceeding for a modification or termination of an order for child, family, or spousal support, the law establishes a procedure for limited post-judgment discovery in specified family law proceedings, generally ordering the production of a completed current income and expenses declaration. This bill requires discovery to automatically reopen as to the issues raised in the post-judgment pleadings currently before the court when a request for order or other motion is filed and served, even after entry of judgment.
  • Underage drinking: This change allows a qualified student to taste an alcoholic beverage without fear of criminal prosecution under criminal law. Put simply – this change in the law allows minor students to sample alcohol, as long as they spit it out after tasting it.
  • Water Liability: The California Safe Drinking Water Act, provides for the operation of public water systems, and imposes legal duties and responsibilities on the State Department of Public Health. Prior to a change in the law, this department was required to conduct research, studies, and demonstration projects relating to the provision of safe drinking water. The change in the law exempts the following departments from liability stemming from claims prior to and during the interim operation period in Riverside County:
    • Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District
    • Eastern Municipal Water District
    • Western Municipal Water District
    • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Other important changes include a method of providing for video appearances by criminal defendants and a reduction in maximum misdemeanor sentence time from 365 days to 364.

Lawyers working in tax law, family law, criminal law, worker’s compensation, and governmental liability should plan to adjust any upcoming motions or hearings in accordance with these new provisions, many of which have already taken effect.

Matthew Izzi

About Matthew Izzi

Matthew Izzi is a California licensed attorney. He earned his law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law. His practice focuses on constitutional law, particularly the areas of criminal defense and freedom of expression.
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