During 2019, the California Legislature passed some interesting laws aimed at leveling the playing field on equality.
The first law that caught my attention involves implicit bias. Several weeks ago, I posted a blog about the existence of implicit biases among Emergency Room physicians. The California Legislature was also aware of the problem as it passed, and the Governor signed AB 241 amending portions of the California Business and Professions Code to require that by January 1, 2022 all physicians and surgeons and by January 1, 2023 all registered nurses and physician assistants take training on “…the understanding of implicit bias in the medical treatment.”
But… do not think that attorneys will escape such training. The very next Assembly Bill, AB 242 requires the same of attorneys and court staff. The bill requires the Judicial Council to provide by a new rule of court for two hours of training every two years on implicit bias of all court staff that interacts with the public and to request the State Bar to require training on implicit bias “… and the promotion of bias reducing strategies” for its licensees, i.e. attorneys. This would take effect for all compliance periods ending after January 31, 2023.
Another interesting bill is Senate Bill 41 which adds Section 3361 to the California Civil Code. It now prohibits “…the estimation, measure, or calculation of past, present, or future damages for lost earnings or impaired earning capacity resulting from personal injury or wrongful death from being reduced based on race, ethnicity, or gender.” Evidently, in tort actions, nearly one-half of the economists surveyed stated that in estimating loss of future earnings, they took into consideration the race and gender of the victim which typically caused the estimated amounts to be lower than those in a non-protected class.
As I have mentioned previously, the Governor signed Senate Bill 188 which now protects hairstyles. It adds to the definitions in both the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Education Code making it unlawful to discriminate based on hair texture and protective hairstyles including braids, twists and locks.
The California Legislature was also concerned about Baby Boomers. It passed two statutes to assist baby boomers in their golden years. Assembly Bill 1287 adds Division 8.5 to the California Welfare and Institutions Code providing that a “…master plan for aging [be] developed … to consider the efficacy of utilizing a system as assisting older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers in obtaining accurate information and timely referrals to appropriate community services and support.” It would be the “No Wrong Door” System meaning that a baby boomer seeking information will not become frustrated because she called the wrong social service agency etc. for information. The Bill estimates that by 2030, the population of those over 65 will nearly double, increasing by 4 million.
Similarly, Senate Bill 228 creates a Master Plan on Aging. The new law “…requests the University of California to compile specified information, including a survey of existing resources throughout California’s governmental and administrative structure that are available to address the needs of an aging society.” Like the Assembly Bill, it adds Chapter 14 to the newly created Division 8.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
Once again, the Legislature was also concerned about our pets. For example, Assembly Bill 415 provides that the already established Victim Compensation Fund will now cover the expense “…of temporary housing for any pets belonging to the victim upon immediate relocation.” This expense includes payment or reimbursement to the victim for a pet deposit required by a rental agreement.
Assembly Bill 588 is one to which I can relate. It requires an animal shelter, the SPCA, a rescue group et cetera “.. that knows to the best of its knowledge …that a dog, at the age of 4 months or older, bit a person and broke that person’s skin…” to disclose this information and obtain a signed acknowledgement from the soon to be owner that she was given this information. The reason I can relate to this is that my husband and I adopted an English Springer Spaniel- Wesley- from the English Springer Rescue Association which obtained him from the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter with very little background information. After Wesley bit my husband for the fourth time without provocation (breaking the skin each time), we had a veterinarian put him down. I have the sneaking suspicion that his original owner knew of his aggressive behavior and hid it from the shelter. Hopefully, this new law will prompt shelters to ask more questions and do a bit more due diligence when accepting dogs.
Assembly Bill 1535 is also another bill involving pets and one that I like. We learned long ago, that one of the first things to do after acquiring a new dog, is to obtain pet insurance before we are aware of any “preexisting conditions.” This new law requires that the pet insurance companies, now provide in writing (in 12 point font) at the time it delivers the policy, the disclosures it usually makes over the telephone such as “… policy exclusions, a waiting or affiliation period, a deductible, coinsurance, or an annual or lifetime policy limit” and further provide contact information to the California Department of Insurance as well as for the insurer or agent or broker of record.
While there are many many other new laws- 870 to be exact- there is one that I would like to end with. Senate Bill 192 repeals California’s penal code statutes authorizing posse comitatus. (HUH? What’s that?) The background information on the statute provides:
Existing law makes an able-bodied person 18 years of age or older who neglects or refuses to join the posse comitatus or power of the county, by neglecting or refusing to aid and assist, as described, in making an arrest, retaking into custody a person who has escaped from arrest or imprisonment, or preventing a breach of the peace or the commission of any criminal offense, after being lawfully required by a uniformed peace officer or a judge, guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to punishment by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000.
This bill would repeal that provision and make conforming changes.
Whew! I am off the hook with having to assist law enforcement in doing its duties. (Not that I was even aware of this obligation prior to December 31, 2019!) Thank goodness!
Anyway… Happy New Laws !!
… and Just something to think about.
P. S. The 2020 laws (that is, those enacted in 2019) may be found at:
P.P S.. I am now a member of The National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Please click the following link to see my availability to schedule mediations.
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