You mean there are more new state laws taking effect this month than the one legalizing pot, which California has spent the last half-century putting hundreds of thousands of its citizens in the slammer for?
Yes, Virginia, there are more. Over 100 more. Perhaps none as sexy — or maybe that’s stoner-y — as the one that rescinds century-old prohibitions on cannabis, allowing sale and possession for recreational use of up to one ounce of the formerly noxious weed.
But in the end is the result of the positive vote for Proposition 64 back in 2016 going to make California that much different? Our state has had legalized medical marijuana for two decades, and all your nieces and nephews — and perhaps you as well — have a physician’s card to treat your many ailments.
Some of the new laws are efficacious, insofar as it is possible for any new regulation to do good in this world. Some, not so much. And, no, we did not get our long-held wish that for every new one passed by the Legislature, two old laws — or let’s call it three — are done away with. So maybe that could be a New Year’s resolution for the esteemed members of what the late Texas columnist Molly Ivins used to refer to as the Leg — pronounced “Ledge,” as in teetering on the brink of. Get rid of the ones that are old and in the way before passing any more.
In the real world, the new California laws for 2018 run the gamut, from merely making technically legal things Californians are already doing to razzing Washington, D.C. with a Bronx cheer to actually making major changes in the way things are done in the state.
In the first category, count being allowed to cross the street when that red hand signal is flashing. Assembly Bill 390 takes away the former penalty for entering a crosswalk after a “Don’t Walk” symbol appears. Except that you need to live in a fancy community in which there is a countdown showing how much time is left for pedestrians to cross.
In the razzing-the-feds category, we would include Senate Bill 54, making California a “sanctuary state” for immigrants without papers. It’s a slap at President Donald Trump’s threat to ramp up federal deporting of undocumented immigrants by limiting the ability of local and state police officers to cooperate with ICE and other federal officials. Many of our state’s cities already limit such cooperation.
And the minimum wage is going up again, by 50 cents, to $11 per hour for workers at companies with at least 26 employees, and to $10.50 for smaller firms. Our editorial board believes the law could backfire, limiting job creation, the last thing California needs.
We also believe in an educated California. Assembly Bill 19 is the first step to a “free college” program waiving the first year of fees for any first-time student who enrolls full-time in community college. There’s a catch: The state has yet to provide enough money in its 2018-19 budget to cover the waivers.
Some laws just appropriately keep up with the times. Senate Bill 179 removes requirements that transgender Californians undergo treatment before applying to change the gender on their birth certificate. It also adds a “nonbinary” option for those who do not identify as either male or female, available on driver’s licenses as well starting in 2019. Never say you don’t live in a state at the cutting edge of the whole … thing.