Legal Alerts Jan 07, 2020

New Election, Conflict of Interest, Firearm and Cannabis Laws

Part 1: California Laws Impacting Public Agencies for 2020

How do the laws passed last year by California lawmakers impact how public agencies do business in the new year? In this annual Legal Alert series, Best Best & Krieger LLP brings you summaries of some of the most critical legislation that agencies need to know about to stay in compliance and best serve their communities. All laws went into effect Jan. 1, unless otherwise noted.


AB 849 Elections: city and county redistricting
This measure amends the process for public agencies that are redrawing electoral districts by establishing additional public hearing, notice and outreach requirements prior to adopting new electoral district maps. If a public agency elects its officials by districts, previous law required the agency to redraw district boundaries after each 10-year federal census, and required public hearings and outreach to allow public participation in the adjustment of district boundaries. This law requires additional public hearings and outreach before the adoption of a final district boundary map – a minimum of four public hearings with at least one hearing occurring in the evening or on a weekend. The law also requires live translations of a hearing if a request is made with 72 hours’ notice.
AB 1707 Polling places: handheld devices
This measure governs the use of handheld devices at the polls. The measure clarifies that one can use a smartphone at polling places, provided the smartphone is not being used to violate the law, such as recording a voter entering or exiting a polling place as a deterrent to voting. 
SB 47 Initiative, referendum, and recall petitions: disclosures
This law requires local initiative petitions to include an “official top funders” list. The list must either be incorporated into the petition itself or as a separate piece of paper that the circulator must show to each voter along with the petition. If a petition does not include a list, a circulator must certify under penalty of perjury that they showed each signer a valid “top funders” list at the time the petition was presented.
SB 359 Elections: referendum
Normally, a petition to referend or overturn an ordinance must attach the entire ordinance to the petition before circulating for signatures. Depending on the size of the ordinance, this can prove unwieldy. This measure allows proponents of a referendum to attach a summary instead. The summary cannot exceed 5,000 words and is subject to the city attorney’s review and approval. The measure makes other technical changes consistent with this accommodation. 
SB 681 Local referenda and charter amendments: withdrawal
State law authorizes the proponent of a local initiative measure to withdraw it prior to the 88th day before the scheduled election regardless of whether the elections official found it sufficient, and it has qualified for the ballot. This measure conforms the provisions of the Elections Code by allowing proponents of a referendum or charter amendment measure to also withdraw it up to 88 days before the scheduled election, even if the measure was found sufficient and it has already qualified for the ballot.

Conflict of Interest

AB 571 Political Reform Act of 1974: contribution limits
Less than one third of California counties and cities limit the size of campaign contributions, although, they have the authority to do so. Best Best & Krieger LLP Legal Alert AB 571 Sets Default Candidate Contribution Limits for City and County Offices explores AB 571’s implications in establishing a default limit on local campaigns.

Public Health & Safety

Last year, the Legislature passed 15 new gun bills. Five of those bills significantly support California’s red-flag law and expand the possibility of its use:

  • AB 61 broadens the pool of eligible petitioners,
  • AB 12 extends the duration of a Gun Violence Restraining Order,
  • AB 164 expands the impact of an out-of-state court order,
  • AB 1493 provides for a “no contest” response to a petition and
  • AB 339 requires the development of written policies and standards for GVRO’s.

These new laws were explored in detail in the Legal Alert Red-Flag Law Expands.
AB 1291 Adult-use cannabis and medicinal cannabis: license application: labor peace agreements
Previously, the California Medicinal and Adult Use of Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act required that a cannabis license applicant with 20 or more employees submit a statement that the applicant will enter into a labor peace agreement with a union, or show that it had already done so. Under the labor peace agreement, the applicant employer agreed not to disrupt union efforts to organize and represent employees, and gave the union reasonable access to meet with employees to discuss their rights. In return, the union and its members agreed not engage in picketing, work stoppages or other economic interferences with the employer. The new law requires that an applicant provide a notarized statement that it will enter into a labor peace agreement or demonstrate that it has already. The new law also requires that an applicant employing less than 20 employees notarize a statement indicating that it will enter into a labor peace agreement within 60 days after employing the 20th employee.
SB 34 Cannabis: donations
Previously, nonprofit compassionate care programs provided free cannabis to low-income patients with prescriptions. Recent legislation essentially did away with compassionate care programs because the cultivator and retailer were taxed for their donations. The new Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act, named for two medical marijuana activists , authorizes retail licensees to provide free cannabis or its products to a medicinal cannabis patient or the patient’s primary caregiver if the cannabis or cannabis products conform to certain requirements. Until Jan. 1, 2025, the new measure would also exempt donated cannabis from excise, sales, use and cultivation taxes. Under this measure a physician’s recommendation to use cannabis for medical purposes could be disclosed by state and local government officials if necessary to comply with tax laws.
SB 185 Cannabis: marketing
By Jan. 1, 2021, the MAUSCRSA required the California Department of Public Health to establish a process for determining appellations for cannabis grown in certain geographical areas of California. The Act prohibited identification of a county of origin, unless the cannabis was actually grown in that county. Similarly, this measure narrows use of the term appellations to “appellations of origin,” and prohibits cannabis from being marketed, labeled or sold using an appellation of origin unless it was produced in that geographical area. The rules are similar to those that apply  wine marketing.
SB 223 Pupil health: administration of medicinal cannabis: school sites
Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes when recommended by a physician. Previously, state law prohibited the possession and use of cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school site. This measure would authorize the governing board of a school to adopt a policy that allows a parent or guardian of a pupil in grades 1 to 12 to administer medicinal cannabis, not in a smokeable or vapeable form, to a qualified pupil under certain conditions. The new law also authorizes a governing board to amend or rescind the policy at a regularly scheduled meeting, or special meeting under exigent circumstances. The measure provides that records collected for administering the cannabis would fall under the state and federal confidentiality and disclosure provisions of medical records.

Also in this Series: 

If you have any questions about these new laws or how they may impact your agency, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed to the right, or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

New Laws 2020 Roundup

New Laws 2020 Roundup

Each year, Best Best & Krieger provides updates on the legal developments that will impact public agencies and businesses in California. See all of the updates in one place!

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