930 New California Laws Took Effect in 2016, Here are 5 You Should Know

Minimum Wage Increase

The final portion of a 2008 bill to raise the California minimum wage to $10 per hour in steps went into effect on January 1, 2016 of this year. The wage increase, from $7.50 per hour to $10 per hour over 8 years broadened the difference between the California and Federal minimum wage significantly. The minimum wage in San Francisco has been higher the state minimum wage for years, and will increase again in July from $12.25 per hour to $13 per hour. This is still not higher than the highest minimum wage in the country, which belongs to Washington D.C., which has a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour, but ties California with Massachusetts for the second highest minimum wage.

Inclusion of 1930’s Mexican Deportation in Future History Textbooks

The conception of this law happened in a 5th grade classroom, where students noticed that it was hard for them to find information on the Mexican deportation efforts under the Mexican Repatriation Act that occurred in 1930’s.

Agricultural producers in the South advocated for immigration quotas for Mexican nationals. But those same Mexican nationals had been an important source of labor in California’s agricultural industry, which had emerged as competition for Southern agriculture. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover initiated a repatriation program for Mexican immigrants and U.S. citizens of Mexican descent in an effort to create “American” jobs in agriculture.

With our state being the home to so many successful Mexican Americans, our children and all Californians should be aware of the injustices that took place so long ago,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), author of the measure. The law does not mandate that the mass expulsion be taught in schools specifically, but strongly encourages it.

Physician Assisted Suicide

This is one of the most controversial policies. Governor Jerry Brown has said that as a practicing Catholic, he himself struggled with the ethics of signing the End of Life Bill which would help those with terminal illnesses end their own lives with dignity. The law is modeled after a similar law enacted in 1997 in Oregon, where last year 105 people elected to end their lives. The law will permit physicians to provide lethal prescriptions to mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and face the expectation that they will die within six months.

While this law didn’t actually go into effect on January 1st, it will be effective 90 days after the state legislature adjourns the special session on healthcare, which could be as early as January or as late as November 2016. At this time, only four other states have Physician Assisted Suicide: Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

New State Lichen

Alongside the official state animal and flower, the iconic Grizzly Bear and California Poppy, comes a first for the United States: a state lichen. Lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, or Spanish moss became the first state lichen in the United States on January 1st of this year. According to the California Lichen Society, Lace lichen is ideal for a state icon because it has a distinctive appearance, and is native to most of the state both in coastal areas and inland. Lichen is a key component of many animal habitats, and is a good indicator of environmental health and air quality because it is sensitive to air pollution.

Banning Ivory Sales

Closing the final loophole in ivory sales in California seems like something that should have been done long ago, but it finally became a law on January 1 of this year. The loophole allowed sales of elephant ivory that was obtained before 1977. Elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn are hard to date however, and as California is one of the top U.S. markets for illegal ivory sales, certificates of age were easy to falsify. The only exceptions now exist in small amounts in certain musical instruments, and in antiques over 100 years old.