California’s historic drought prompted the Legislature into action in 2014, leading lawmakers to regulate groundwater for the first time and override homeowners associations that fine members for replacing lawns with more drought-tolerant landscaping.
The most populous state also becomes the first to set a “yes means yes” standard for sex between college students and the first to ban single-use plastic bags, a law the plastic bag industry is seeking to overturn through a voter referendum.
Those are among more than 900 bills passed in 2014 by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who also vetoed 143.
Most of the laws take effect Jan. 1. That includes a bill allowing driver’s licenses for people who are in the country illegally, another that will influence the 2016 ballot by modernizing California’s century-old initiative process and others addressing everything from teacher tenure to massage parlors.
Also taking effect with the new year is a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008 that restricts the confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding sows and veal calves.
The state’s biggest ongoing story of the year led to a series of bills designed to have a lasting effect on California’s water supply.