California Seal

By Jeremy B. White
jwhite@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 – 8:58 am

Bills that crossed Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in 2013 encompassed policy topics from bullets to bike safety. In some cases Brown signed legislation that enshrined key Democratic goals, reflecting the strength of robust Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

A few of those bills, including one hiking the state minimum wage and one requiring cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists, won’t take effect for a few months. But that still leaves plenty of substantial measures that become operative state law today. Here’s a look at some highlights.

Immigration

Driver’s licenses

AB 60 accomplishes something immigrant advocates have sought for years – driver’s licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will spend this year designing the licenses, which will become available by Jan. 1, 2015.

Deportations

AB 4 pushes back on a federal program requiring local law enforcement to detain arrested immigrants. Now jails can hold immigrants for federal immigration enforcement only if they have committed serious or violent crimes, as defined by the law.

Immigrant attorneys

Playing off of the legal case of Sergio Garcia, who was brought to California illegally as a child and later passed the state’s bar exam on his first try, AB 1024 allows undocumented immigrants who pass the California bar to practice law.

Immigrant workers

AB 263 and SB 666 both prohibit employers from punishing or retaliating against workers on the basis of their immigration status.

Environment

Hydraulic fracturing

SB 4 seeks to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a gas-harvesting practice that involves blasting a mix of pressurized water and chemicals underground. Rules taking effect at the start of 2014 mandate groundwater monitoring, require neighbors to be notified of new wells and have energy companies publicly disclose the fracking chemicals they use.

Lead ammunition

AB 711, which cites the health risk to wildlife in banning lead ammunition, won’t be fully implemented until July 2019. In the meantime, the state’s Fish and Game Commission will get to work on a framework for phasing out lead bullets.

Health

Abortion

AB 154 allows medical professionals such as nurse practitioners to perform a type of early abortion if they have received the necessary training. Qualified professionals can now enroll in the requisite training program.

Pharmacists

The sole survivor of a trio of scope-of-practice bills, SB 493 expands what pharmacists can do to include administering vaccines, performing patient assessments and ordering toxicity tests, among other functions.

Midwives

AB 1308 removes a requirement, long decried by midwives, that a physician be present to supervise a birth. Doctors had stayed away despite that rule, citing insurance liability risks.

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