Government / Politics

New laws affecting San Benito County residents

They range from defining who can hold public office, employee classification and redistricting deadlines.

Californians are beginning the year with hundreds of new laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on issues ranging from healthcare to roadkill. Following is a summary of laws that will affect San Benito County residents in 2020 and beyond.

Senate Bill 328:

SB 328 requires middle schools to begin the school day no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. by July 1, 2022, or when the school district’s collective bargaining agreement ends, whichever is later. The law includes charter schools, but not rural school districts. 

The law does not bar schools from offering zero period classes or activities that do not generate average daily attendance, which affects state funding.

Assembly Bill 849:

AB 849 revises how cities and counties must adopt council and supervisorial district area boundaries following each census. It gives agencies a deadline between Aug. 1 of a year that ends in 1 (2021 in this case) and 151 days before the county’s regular election occurring after March 1 in a year that ends in 2 (2022 in this case). Public hearings and workshops can still be hosted before Aug. 1. Four public hearings are required before a board adopts a final district map. 

Senate Bill 47:

In an effort to create more transparency, SB 47 requires disclosure of the top founders of initiatives, referendums and recalls. It also requires that circulators give web page addresses to the state secretary and include them in the full text of the initiative or referendum. San Benito County has a referendum in March on the rezoning of four commercial nodes along Highway 101.

Assembly Bill 2:

The California College Promise law was amended to make students who have earned a degree from a postsecondary educational institution ineligible for a fee waiver as a first-time, full-time community college student. The law additionally defines a student as full-time if taking 12 units or more or if a disabled student is deemed by a certified staff person in the disabled students services program if enrolled for less than 12 units.

Senate Bill 225:

SB 225, also known as the Citizens of the State law, amends the definition of who is a citizen of the state. It allows all California residents, regardless of immigration status and citizenship, to hold appointed civil office beginning at age 18.

Assembly Bill 9:

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act—a law that identifies unlawful employment and housing practices including discrimination and harassment—was amended to extend the period to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing from one year to three years after the alleged unlawful practice occurred.

Assembly Bill 5:

AB 5, also known as the gig worker law, was amended to codify the decision of the Dynamex case, which defines the classification of an employee compared to an independent contractor. The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce and San Benito County Arts Council hosted an AB 5 workshop on Jan. 8 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister with presenters Paul Rovella and Julie Baker. 

Assembly Bill 378:

AB 378 allows child care workers to unionize and bargain with the state on matters of child care subsidy programs. According to the California Department of Social Services, there are 16 facilities that serve preschool-age children in San Benito County and 46 licensed facilities categorized as a large-family child care home. 

Assembly Bill 493:

AB 493 requires the State Department of Education to develop resources for school site training and support for LGBTQ students in public schools. The law does not require public schools that serve students in grades 7-12 to utilize the resources, but encourages them to provide training to teachers and other certified employees at least once every two years. Resources include safe spaces, peer support, counseling and policies about anti-bullying, harassment privacy, and suicide. San Benito County has an LGBTQ center in the Esperanza Center.


Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.