New Year, New Laws: Legislation Authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman to Take Effect on January 1, 2019

Friday, December 28, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) authored 12 bills this year that will go into effect on January 1, 2019. The legislation is related to a variety of issues, including sexual assault survivors, the 2020 Census, student welfare, elections security, and health care.

Sexual Assault Survivors

Assembly Bill 1619 extends the statute of limitations for an adult sexual assault survivor to file for civil damages from two years to ten years. The previous two year window was unrealistic for many survivors, including those who were waiting for their evidence to be processed or for a criminal investigation or trial to end.

2020 Census

Assembly Bill 2592 requires the Secretary of State to include information about an upcoming federal decennial census on the Secretary of State’s website and in public elections materials that are produced by the Secretary of State such as the state voter information guide. Voter information is particularly timely because California’s 2020 Presidential Primary is only weeks before Census Day. An undercount of California’s population could significantly reduce the state’s share of federal funding for education, transportation, health care, and other vital services.

Student Welfare

Assembly Bill 2639 requires schools serving students in grades 7 to 12 to review their pupil suicide prevention policies every five years, and update them if necessary. Doing so will help ensure that schools continue to support students’ mental health needs, which is critically important as youth suicide rates continue to rise.

Assembly Bill 3043 improves access to school nutrition programs by allowing schools to use their cafeteria funds to provide Universal Breakfast, a program that provides a free nutritious breakfast to all students, and to purchase food trucks, which create additional points of access to school meals.

Election Security

Assembly Bill 3075 creates the Office of Elections Cybersecurity within the Secretary of State’s office and tasks it with defending the state’s election infrastructure from cyber threats, coordinating election security efforts with federal, state, and local elections officials, and counteracting false or misleading information that undermines the integrity of elections.

Health Care

Assembly Bill 2941 requires health plans and health insurers to provide access to medically necessary health care services to patients who have been displaced by a governor-declared state of emergency. Under the new law, health plans and health insurers could authorize care to be provided by an out-of-network provider, extend filing deadlines for claims, suspend prescription refill limitations and allow prescriptions to be refilled at an out-of-network pharmacy, relax time limits for referrals, and allow for medical equipment or supplies to be replaced. This bill follows another year of destructive wildfires, including the Camp Fire – the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. 

Housing

Assembly Bill 1804 promotes residential and mixed-use housing projects within unincorporated county lands.

Courts

Assembly Bill 1531 builds upon Assemblymember Berman’s 2017 bill, AB 976, and further modernizes California’s court electronic-filing and service process.

Assembly Billy 2230 extends from 60 to 75 the number of days for a judge to rule on motions to set aside or vacate a judgement. Beginning January 1, 2020, the bill will also give judges the flexibility to more efficiently manage cases by allowing an outline of the discovery issues in dispute in lieu of full separate statements from both the plaintiff and defense counsel. This often tedious task is timely and can add up to reams of paper without any benefit for judges, parties, or the public.

Government

Assembly Bill 3133 requires the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to serve on the State Public Works Board when natural resource-related acquisitions and projects are up for consideration, thereby ensuring that the State Public Works Board considers environmental and resource protection-related rationales for proposed land acquisitions. The State Public Works Board is responsible for overseeing and approving the land acquisition transactions for the majority of state departments.

Assembly Bill 2425 modernizes how an assessor or taxpayer may receive information related to property taxation by creating the reciprocal right of an assessor or taxpayer to request the information be mailed to them or sent electronically if available, thereby avoiding in-person visits and long lines at a county office.

Consumer Protection

Assembly Bill 2469 requires beer wholesalers to meet qualifications related to the quantity, storage, and ownership of beer stock. These qualifications – similar to those required of brandy and distilled spirits wholesalers – are needed to ensure that beer wholesalers have the functionality to maintain beer freshness, provide quality control, and protect the public from unsafe products.