Lane-splitting, minimum wage among California’s top new laws

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Assembly Bill 51 would prompt the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines relating to motorcycle lane-splitting. (Courtesy photo)

At about this time every year, the legislative session in California is winding down. Sept. 15 is the last day for the governor to sign any bill this year. As the legislative year comes to an end, I once again summarize several of the new laws that I believe are of most importance to our readers:

LANE-SPLITTING
Assembly Bill 51 was authored by Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk, whose district District 20 encompasses Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, Sunol and North Fremont. AB 51 defines “lane-splitting” as two-wheeled vehicles traveling between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads and highways.

Lane-splitting in California has been legal for years. The reasons why include the fact that many motorcycles are air-cooled and rely on air passing over the engine to keep the engine from overheating. It also allows motorcycles to position themselves so that they do not get “sandwiched” between two vehicles and crushed in a rear-end collision.

AB 51 prompts the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines relating to lane-splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcyclist and the drivers and passengers of the surrounding vehicles. It is anticipated that the CHP will set forth conditions under which lane-splitting will be permitted, such as traffic, speeds and between which lanes motorcycles may lane split. Hopefully, the guidelines and public education programs will help motorists to become aware of the conditions under which they need to be watchful for lane-splitting motorcyclists, as well as provide guidelines to motorcyclists so that they split lanes in a safe fashion.

I think this law is great for public safety, as we all too often get calls from motorcyclists that are injured while lane-splitting. Most motorists, when sued following such an event, are unaware that the motorcycle was operating lawfully at the time of the collision. From a pure legal standpoint, the law will help injured motorcyclists, who are operating within the guidelines, defend themselves against accusations of being contributorily (partially) at fault for exercising their right to lane split.

MINIMUM WAGE
Senate Bill 3 was authored by Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno, whose District 11 covers San Francisco and part of San Mateo. Leno, known as one of Sacramento’s most effective lawmakers, was termed-out in 2016, and the district is now represented by Sen. Scott Wiener. SB 3 would require the minimum wage for all industries to not be less than specified amounts to be increased from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 1, 2022, inclusive, for employers except when the scheduled increases are suspended by the Governor based on certain determinations.

For any employer who employs 26 or more employees, the minimum wage shall be as follows: from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017, inclusive, $10.50 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018, inclusive, $11 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2019, inclusive, $12 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, inclusive, $13 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021, inclusive, $14 per hour; and from Jan. 1, 2022, forward, $15 per hour.

For any employer who employs 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage shall be as follows: from Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018, inclusive, $10.50 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2019, inclusive, $11 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, inclusive, $12 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021, inclusive, $13 per hour; from Jan. 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2022, inclusive, $14 per hour; and from Jan. 1, 2023, forward, $15 per hour.

These wage increases apply even if the Federal Minimum Wage is lower. The bill was passed and signed by the governor over original opposition from the Chamber of Commerce, which is no friend to the working people of California. Given the extremely high cost of living anywhere in California, I think that this law is beneficial for all Californians.

SEX CRIMES WITH UNCONSCIOUS VICTIMS

Assembly Bill 2888 was authored by Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low, whose District 28 includes parts of San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell, Cupertino and Saratoga. Existing law prohibits a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of violating specified provisions of law, including rape by force, pandering, aggravated sexual assault of a child, etc. AB 2888 prohibits a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.

This law was passed in response to the outrage that followed a Santa Clara judge granting probation to Brock Turner, a Stanford University swimmer who was given six months in jail and then probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. This law is an important enhancement of existing law, which will prevent sweetheart deals with sexual offenders (usually favoring white upper-class males).

I will continue to report on new laws for the next several weeks as the legislative session draws to an end.

Christopher B. Dolan is owner of the Dolan Law Firm. Email questions to help@dolanlawfirm.com.

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