New laws restore felons’ right to vote, protect student-loan borrowers

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As the new year begins, so does a list of new laws for Californians, including one that restores felons’ ability to vote after completing a sentence, and another that looks to protect college students from predatory lending practices.

People who have completed a full sentence and qualify for parole now have the right to vote in California, with the passage of Proposition 17. The proposition amends the state’s constitution to allow people on parole to vote. Previously, people were disqualified from voting until after their sentence and parole were completed.

Assembly Bill 376 offers new protections for people taking out student loans from lenders. The bill requires lenders to post, certify and process student loan payments within a given time frame and offer specialized customer service for older borrowers, borrowers in the military or those with disabilities.

“The bill would prohibit a student loan servicer from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices, or abusive acts or practices in connection with the servicing of a student loan, as specified,” as stated in the California Legislative Information web page. Borrowers who suffer damage due to unfair or deceptive practices are now able to receive legal and financial relief.

Starting July 1, those with two convictions of using a phone while driving within 36 months will have a point added to their record, with the passage of Assembly Bill 47. The Department of Motor Vehicles point system keeps track of a person’s driving record, and if a person receives multiple violations and exceeds a certain number of points, they can lose driving privileges.

Assembly Bill 2717 clears people from civil or criminal liability for property damage or trespassing if a person rescues an unattended child from a vehicle in a situation that would otherwise lead to harm or death.

It is illegal to leave a child 6 years or younger in a vehicle unattended. If a person takes steps provided by 911 call dispatchers or first responders, they will not be held liable for damage done to a vehicle.

People who worked for inmate fire crews while incarcerated will have the opportunity to have their record expunged by the court, after Assembly Bill 2147 was voted into law. The goal of this law is to allow people to have a clear record, which would make finding a job, including one as a firefighter, easier.

People who were convicted of sex offenses and certain violent felonies are not qualified to have their records expunged.

Assembly Bill 901 will require kids who act disorderly, or are frequently absent or truant in school, to partake in community support services instead of being referred to probation programs or becoming a ward of the court.

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