María Elia Gastélum
Dually licensed in Mexico and California, Maria helps clients with international estate and business planning.

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Starting on January 1st 2020, new laws across de country have become effective. Following is a list of some of the most relevant new laws in California and Texas.

CALIFORNIA

  • California residents are now required to have health insurance, just like it used to be under the former “individual mandate” of the federal Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Penalties for failing to enroll in a healthcare plan won’t kick in until taxes are filed in April 2021.
  • California women seeking birth control pills through applications such as the one offered by Planned Parenthood will not have to participate in video conferences with a doctor to receive a prescription.
  • Children whose parents have unpaid school lunch bills will not be denied access to at least an alternate meal option and cannot be shamed or treated differently than other students.
  • Students up to fifth grade cannot be suspended for disrupting school activities starting in August. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will also be protected from such suspensions for the next five years.
  • Businesses planning to use independent contractors will be subject to new restrictions and most of those workers will now be considered employees if the employer controls the work, if the work is part of the company's core business, or if the employer directs the worker in their job.
  • The minimum wage in California has gone up by a dollar. Large employers (26 or more employees) must pay a minimum of $13 an hour, while businesses with 25 or fewer employees must pay a minimum of $12 an hour. The minimum wage will increase to $15 an hour in 2023 regardless of the number of employees.
  • Food service workers must wear gloves made of something other than latex, which causes allergic reactions in some people.
  • Homeowners will have more flexibility to build “granny flats,” on their properties.
  • Californians now have a civil cause of action against anyone who distributes a fake sex video or photo with their likeness.
  • California residents will also have more control over how their personal information is used and shared by businesses and request the disclosure or deletion of any information they have about them.
  • Smoking is now illegal in most parts of California state parks and beaches. Those who break the law are subject to a $25 fine.
  • Any circus that uses animals other than domesticated dogs, cats or horses is banned from operating in California.
  • Californians will be able to register to vote or change their party registration on election day in March and November at any local polling place.

TEXAS

  • Texas will now require employees of public, private or independent colleges and universities to report allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking against a student or employee to the institution's Title IX coordinator. The law will also make it a Class B misdemeanor when an employee who is required to make the report fails to do so. It is enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if the employee intended to conceal the incident that he or she was required to report. And, institutions cannot discipline or discriminate against an employee who in good faith reports the incident and cooperates with an investigation, disciplinary process or judicial proceeding, unless the employee is the alleged perpetrator.
  • Texas homeowners will now be allowed a temporary property tax exemption for a portion of the appraised value of their damaged property in a governor-declared disaster area. The tax exemption will only be effective if a local governing body chooses to adopt it within 60 days of the governor's disaster declaration.
  • There is now a deadline for when a person who conducts business in Texas or who owns or licenses computerized data with sensitive personal information has to notify individuals of a security breach. The person conducting business will have up to 60 days after the breach to report it. And, if a breach involves at least 250 Texas residents, the person conducting business must also notify the attorney general of the incident and the measures it is taking to handle the breach.
  • The Bingo Enabling Act by eliminates the five percent prize fee for non-cash prizes that are valued at more than $5. It will also require licensed authorized organizations that conduct bingo to collect the five percent fee on cash prizes and pay 50 percent of the fees collected to the Texas Commission Lottery on a quarterly basis.
  • Nonprofit health organizations are now required to develop anti-retaliation policies for physicians and submit biennial reports to the Texas Medical Board.
  • A health maintenance organization or HMO is now required to pay for emergency care performed by non-network physicians or providers in an amount that the organization determines is reasonable for the emergency care. Also, the non-network physician or provider can't bill the patient and the patient has no financial responsibility for an amount greater than the patient's responsibility under his or her health care plan. That includes an applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible.
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