From Guns to Granny Units: A Look at New State Laws in 2017

Last year, California legislators sent Gov. Jerry Brown 1,059 bills to consider. Two went into effect without his signature, 159 got vetoed and 898 became law at the start of 2017.

While most of the new rules won’t affect day-to-day life for most people, quite a few mark significant changes. Below is sampling of some of the new laws we woke up to on Jan. 1.

Minimum wage
The statewide minimum hourly wage has ticked up to $10.50 an hour, bringing it on par with San Jose’s. Annual increases under the new law will bump it up to $15 by 2022. San Jose’s goes up to $12 on July 1 and will reach $15 by the start of 2019.

Equal pay
Employers can’t pay women less than her male colleagues simply because she made less at a previous job.

New gun control measures passed by legislators in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting were followed by more rules approved by voters on the Nov. 8 ballot. Some of those rules expand the definition of illegal assault weapons, ban lending guns to relatives, require background checks for ammo purchases and ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Gun sales reportedly spiked ahead of the New Year because of the impending ban on weapons with a “bullet button,” which allows magazines to easily detach for a quick reload. State Department of Justice officials will create a uniform concealed carry license so it no longer varies county to county.

It was already against the law to hold a cellphone to talk or text behind the wheel. As of this past Sunday, it’s illegal for drivers to hold their phone at all.

Outrage over the six-month jail sentence for Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, prompted lawmakers to make prison time mandatory for “all forms of nonconsensual assault.”

Terminally ill patients now have the “right to try” experimental drugs.

Human trafficking
Prosecutors can no longer charge minors with prostitution. The idea is that anyone younger than 18 engaged in commercial sex work should be treated not as a criminal but as a victim of human trafficking.

Public bathrooms
Single-toilet bathrooms will have to be gender neutral in businesses and public agencies.

Beauty salons and barbershops can serve complimentary beer or wine to clients, which many of them already did anyway.

Earthquake warnings
California has finally caught up to Mexico, China and Japan by establishing an earthquake early warning system. The governor budgeted $10 million to ramp up an existing prototype called ShakeAlert.

Electric cars
Electric car rebates will only be available to people who make an annual salary of $150,000 or less.

Granny units
Homeowners will have fewer hoops to jump through if they want to build small standalone units on their property.

Bullying through video or sext can now merit expulsion from public schools. Education officials will also have to teach students about sexting and publish information about sexual cyberbullying online.

Background checks
Drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft now have to undergo background checks. The new law stems from reports of at least two-dozen drivers were hired despite past felony convictions for sex crimes and murder.


  1. “Granny units: Homeowners will have fewer hoops to jump through if they want to build small standalone units on their property.”
    Can you provide specific information as it applies within the City of San Jose? What Municipal Codes, etc.

  2. You may put one 8’x12′ with no utility’s on your lot after that you get to spend two years and 25% of the cost of the building in paperwork and red tape. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *