SACRAMENTO -- New laws taking effect this year will change the way Californians drive, work and go to school.

Starting today, teens can no longer text friends using Siri while on the road, and this summer, the minimum wage will increase to one of the highest rates in the nation.

Those are just a couple of the changes Californians will see in the new year, and here are key laws among the more than 800 Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2013.

DRIVERS: California in September will join two dozen other states in requiring motorists to keep at least three feet from cyclists when passing. Another law continues until 2019 to permit low-emission or zero-emission vehicle drivers to use carpool lanes even when driving alone.

From left, Aleah Villarreal, 16, and Alexandra Agoglia, 16, drive through the Distracted Texting Driving Course at the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart clinic
From left, Aleah Villarreal, 16, and Alexandra Agoglia, 16, drive through the Distracted Texting Driving Course at the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart clinic at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif. on Saturday, April 27, 2013. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

WORKERS: Starting July 1, minimum wage earners must be paid $9 an hour, and by 2016, the state's base wage will jump to $10. In-home caregivers who work more than nine hours a day or 45 hours per week must be paid time and a half, and people who work outdoors must get breaks when the weather is hot.

TEENS: Transgender students can choose which restrooms to use and which sports teams to play on, and cyberbullies will face harsher penalties in school. It's already illegal for teens to use cellphones while driving, but now, voice-operated hands-free texting programs are off-limits, too.


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IMMIGRANTS: People living in the country illegally can now practice law in California, and by 2015, illegal immigrants will be able to obtain driver's licenses. Gov. Jerry Brown also signed legislation barring county jails from turning illegal immigrants over to federal authorities.

WOMEN: Many states last year restricted women's abortion rights, but California expanded access to the procedure, allowing certain clinicians other than doctors to perform some early-term abortions.

FAMILIES: Children can now have more than two legal parents, and law enforcement officials must activate an AMBER ALERT when a child is abducted by a parent or guardian who jeopardizes a child's life. Workers now will be eligible to take family leave to care for a wider variety of seriously ill relatives.

VICTIMS: Employers can no longer fire, discriminate or retaliate against a worker victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. They're also barred from retaliating against employees who are immigrants by threatening to report their status to federal authorities.

PAPARAZZI: Photographers who harass the children of public figures, including celebrities, will face tougher penalties, including up to a year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. This law was backed by actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner.

ANIMALS: Homeowners who spot mountain lions in their backyards may not shoot and kill the big cats. Hunters by 2019 will no longer be able to use lead ammunition.

GUNS: Rifle purchasers must earn safety certificates, and kits that convert regular magazines into high-capacity magazines are banned. Mentally ill people who make violent threats are prohibited from owning guns for five years.

The 805 bills Gov. Brown signed last year are fairly progressive by national standards, but the 96 bills he vetoed are evidence of hiss moderate side.

The governor gave the National Rifle Association seven of the 11 vetoes it wanted, and he rejected more than three dozen bills labeled "job killers" by the California Chamber of Commerce. Only one of those, the minimum wage hike, became law.

Perhaps the most impressive legislative achievement last year is what didn't get signed into law, said Jack Pitney a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

"We can all be thankful that taxes won't go up in 2014," Pitney said.

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/calefati. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.