• Patrick Santos, Esq.

New Laws in 2020: A Blog Series – part 1 of 3.

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Here is my annual update for my 700+ current and former clients and a few colleagues on some new California laws here in 2020. Hon. Gov. Newsom signed a lot of new laws, and this is just my own personal selection and favorites. I am confident each and every one of you will be effected in some way by at least one of these laws. I bet a few might even bring some really big smiles to your face. This blog is a series of three, and here begins Part I of III:

Favorite New 2020 CA Law #1: "Lunch Shaming" is Banned - Children whose parents have unpaid school lunch bills won’t be denied access to at least an alternate meal selection, and can’t be shamed or treated different.

This is my #1 personal favorite because millions of schoolkids across California will be less likely to find themselves humiliated in front of classmates for owing money for school lunches. We live the greatest nation on earth, or so we like to think, and so we may, but the truth is - - our kids do not. Public school is its own version of existence, and it's hard enough as it is. But to be treated different because you cannot afford to pay to eat after gym class is painful, especially for a child, personal experience speaking.

I am just so pleased, and so should you to be able to report to that we have adults in California who care enough about our kids to make such an Amazing New Law.

So, here it is: just because your mom and dad have unpaid school lunch bills, you won’t be denied access to an alternate meal selection and you can’t be shamed or be treated differently - - in any way - - than your fellow class mates.

But it turns out it wasn't all about us boring adults. Hon. Gov. Newsom credited an elementary school student in Napa Valley, who called attention to "how kids at his school were shamed and singled out because of inadequate funds in their school lunch accounts." Earlier this year, 9-year-old Ryan Kyote (said student) used his own personal allowance savings to pay off his third-grade class' lunch debt after watching a student made to take back her hot lunch due to what her family owed. How cool is Ryan?!

9-year-old Ryan Kyote

*You Rock Ryan!!

Favorite New 2020 CA Law #2: Employers, Co-Workers and Teachers will be able to ask for a Gun Violence Restraining Order ("GVRO").

Mass shootings of children and adults alike have become a reality in these United States. No personal or place has shown to be safe, with incidents at schools, workplaces, public places, and even churches and places of worship. While the country remains deeply divided about the cause of such incidents and how to prevent them, there has been significant bipartisan discussion at both the national and state levels about so-called “Red Flag” laws as a tool to combat gun violence.

The new law goes into effect on September 1, 2020, AB-61, which authorizes a temporary restraining order ("TRO") for the sole purpose of dispossessing a person of a gun – a "GVRO." A GVRO seeks to maintain the status quo, in this case nobody being shot, when a person who is a danger can satisfy a court with adequate proof of that belief. This law existed before, but the classes of person who could bring the petition were too narrow (families and law enforcement only).

As in the past, the request is made to a judge who makes a factual determination whether to grant or deny a GVRO and a one-year seizure may be ordered, and then extended annually for up to five years.

Other new guns laws include (1) only Californians age 21 or over will be able to buy a semi-automatic rifle, (2) Starting in 2021, all Californians will be limited to buying one of rifle per month. (3) A person banned from having a gun in another state will no longer be able to legally possess one in California.

Favorite New 2020 CA Law #3: New law Will Protect Low-Income Consumers From Losing Vital Basic Income to Debt Collectors.

At the urging of a lot of caring and smart people, like Mr. Erwin Chemerinsky, California has joined less than 20 other states in protecting low income individuals from having all of their savings wiped out by debt collectors. Governor Newsom signed SB-616, would prevent debt collectors from taking all of the money in a person’s bank account.

Operative September 1, 2020, the new law does not cancel any debts; it protects just enough money to keep low-income families from being made homeless or having their children go hungry. An amount "equal to the minimum basic standard of adequate care for a family of four" - - $1,724.

The law allows a creditor, such as a credit card company or a department store, to obtain a judgment against someone who owes money and has not paid his or her debts. No one objects to that. Often debt-buying companies purchase the creditors’ accounts, usually for pennies on the dollar, and then try to collect the money that is owed.

A law that prevents debt collection agencies from completely wiping out a person's bank account to reclaim debts is a law which anyone who has had their accounts wiped knows, is fair and just. Imagine JC Penny (for example, nothing personal) cashing a father's bi-weekly check and his family not being able to eat, and the lasting effect such an incident might have on any family. Laws which seek to favor the poor are the most just, and I encourage you find any religious text that disagrees.

Not to mention, it may also provide some relief to people who are mistakenly targeted by collectors, sometimes because identity thieves rack up debt in their names. A great new riotous law for all us Californians to be proud of and thankful for, especially, and god forbid, if ever needed.

~Patrick Santos is an attorney in Los Angeles with eleven years' experience. A USC grad, he is an "organic" SoCal for hire trial attorney and an appellate advocate in civil & criminal litigation, and he is the sole owner of The Ticket Dump, A.P.C.

The new blog in this series will discuss businesses in California planning to use independent contractors, which will be subject to new restrictions on the situations in which they can do so, and will discuss the ultimate effect and intent of the law – that more of those workers will now be considered employees. Part B of Part 2 will discuss the new law wherein employers can no longer require current or new workers to agree to arbitration as a condition of having a job. Finally, Part C of Part 2 will address something huge - - State anti-discrimination laws will now apply to renting apartments or homes through companies such as Airbnb and VRBO.


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