GOLDEN STATE OF MIND

On Jan. 1, California is basically becoming a different state

Protection for undocumented immigrants, tougher gun laws, recreational marijuana: California will welcome 2018 by turning into the US equivalent of a Scandinavian country. Hundreds of new laws of markedly progressive inspiration will go into effect in the Golden State come the new year, affecting everything from crime, to transportation, to wages.

Immigration

Undocumented immigration is arguably the area that will see the most significant regulations in California, especially as the federal government attempts to curb it. Per new state laws, local authorities will be limited in their ability to cooperate with the federal government in sharing immigration status, and landlords can face civil penalties if they threaten to report their renters to federal immigration authorities. Agencies working with juveniles or developmentally disabled people won’t have to report illegal immigration statuses. Further, workplace raids will need a warrant and workers will have to be given a 72 hour notice.

But changes won’t be limited to laws affecting the immigrant population. Here are some of the most important in other realms (the Los Angeles Times provides a full breakdown):

Lifestyle

Come September, parents won’t be required to list gender on their children’s birth certificates.

Men will also have an easier time changing their kids’ diapers, as many more public buildings will have to provide changing stations in men’s restrooms, too.

Education

Schools won’t be allowed to deny school lunch to children who can’t afford it, and they will have to provide free tampons and sanitary supplies for students in grades six through 12.

Work

Companies with a staff of 26 or more will have to pay their employees at least $11 per hour, up from the current $10.50. In smaller companies, the minimum wage will be $10.50.

It will be illegal to ask prospective employees for their salary history, and equal pay laws will cover government jobs, too.

New parents working at companies of 20 or more employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave: Those will be unpaid, but they won’t lose their health coverage while away.

Personal finance

Refinancing a mortgage and other real-estate transactions will be subject to a $75 fee that will go towards low-income housing.

Weapons

School officials will no longer be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, and open carry of unloaded guns can now be forbidden by local authorities. Further, people will need to get a serial number if they intend to assemble their own gun.

Juveniles

Families will no longer have to pay fees for the handling of their children while in the juvenile justice system, and minors will no longer serve life sentences without parole.

Marijuana

Finally, people in California will be free to smoke marijuana recreationally. But not everyone will have easy (legitimate) access off the bat: Only a few cities will have retailers licensed to sell recreational pot initially.

Road etiquette

Commercial bus riders who do not wear a seatbelt might be fined up to $20. Further, drivers will be subject to a fine for smoking pot in their car when on a state road.

Beginning a road crossing while the signal is blinking will no longer be considered jaywalking.

Health

Antibiotics for animals will need prescriptions, and cleaning products will have to have clear labels for hazardous chemicals. Plus, AIDS will be treated like all other communicable diseases, and knowingly transmitting HIV will no longer be a felony.

Correction: Crossing while the signal is blinking will no longer get you a ticket in California.

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