Starting January 1st California has a new slate of laws that become law. While most of these laws are not really all that controversial, there are some that are likely to cause problems with their implementation given their wide-ranging effects or issues with special interest groups. These laws either challenge long-standing assumptions in the legal field or create some potentially interesting problems for lawmakers in other areas. A careful consideration of each of these Top 5 controversial California laws taking effects in 2018 follows, looking at how each of them may make things interesting for Californians as well as any issues in their implementation.

California Sanctuary State

A number of new laws enforce California’s status as a sanctuary state, ranging from laws requiring immigration officers to have a warrant before searching a workplace to limiting how law enforcement can help immigration. While most of these are pushing back against Trump’s anti-immigration policies, a sore subject in a state with so many immigrants, it should be interesting to see what happens when state laws push against federal ones. This is not a traditional states rights issue because of the stakes involved, especially given the dependency on immigrant labor, but because of the civil rights issues that are being brought up in the implementation of the federal policies.

Another issue is that a person spreading the HIV knowingly may only suffer a misdemeanor in court, as opposed to a felony under prior law. This law has already caused some controversy; the issue at hand is that HIV is no longer the death sentence that it used to be, especially given how relatively inexpensive and easily available treatments are. However, it is still a life-changing event and has a number of repercussions even for those that have embraced life with the virus.

Small Business in California

|A somewhat major win for new parents is that California small businesses with at least 20 employees must give them up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without it affecting their health insurance. While this may not seem like a huge deal to some this is still a major victory for those parents. However, this law may create some tension between employers and parents, not to mention health care providers, as they wrestle their different priorities to follow the law. There could actually be some fallout from this simply because some unscrupulous employers may attempt to fire these parents as the day approaches and some insurance providers could try to influence that decision.

One change will have to wait until next year to fully take effect, but part of it has already taken effect. Specifically, it is possible to choose a non-gendered option on a birth certificate; in 2019 the change can be shown on driving licenses. This not only allows for greater personal choice in choosing how a person defines themselves but also helps in determining benefits for the transgendered in California. While it may not seem that controversial, anything involving sexual identity tends to eventually become controversial, and it should come to the forefront when it becomes an actual option for drivers licenses.

Another change is that polling places will be changing to vote centers, where voters can simply drop off ballots as well as access other voter services. While this may make voting easier for most, there are those concerned with voter suppression, especially those in the black community, and that the vote centers will make it easier to suppress the vote of groups of people. How this will change elections is uncertain, but as vote centers replace polling places there will be some definite repercussions felt.

All told these laws should have some interesting effects on the state, both in how they affect how things are done in California as well as how other entities, especially the federal government, do business with the state. Regardless, they will be discussed for a long time. How they specifically affect life will probably take years, but it should be interesting to see how things play out as they take effect.