Over the course of 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed just under one thousand new laws, many of which will go into effect in 2023. While some of these laws will go into effect later in the year, many already have as of January 1. Here are just a few of the numerous new laws that have already been instated.
The first new law of note is Senate Bill 3 in which California’s minimum wage increased from $15 an hour to $15.50 an hour, effectively raising the wage minimum by fifty cents. While there are some exceptions including nonprofit work, and apprenticeships, this is, for the most part, a blanket wage across the state. This includes both companies/employers with 25 or less employees, and those with 25 or more employees. Even if a company or employer has just one employee, they must still abide by the new minimum wage law. According to Newsom, this increase was triggered by inflation exceeding seven percent.
Another important law that has taken effect as of the new year, is Senate Bill 1472: Ryan’s Law. This law is named after Encino teenager, Ryan Koeppel, who was killed in an accident by a repeat extreme speeder. This law will expand the definition for gross negligence. According to the Bill, it would “specify a list of circumstances that may, based on the totality of the circumstances, constitute gross negligence for manslaughter, including, among other circumstances, when a person has participated in a sideshow or has sped over 100 miles per hour. By expanding the definition of a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.” This means that drivers who are driving over 100 miles per hour, speeding excessively, or partaking in street racing/sideshows resulting in death can be charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, significantly increasing the punishment. Deaths related to street racing have become increasingly frequent in the past decade or so, and the fatalities in such accidents are typically young males.
As of January 1, 2023, it is also now illegal for private insurance companies to charge people co-pays or deductibles for abortions, thanks to Senate Bill 245. According to analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program, this could save people an average of $543 on medication abortions, and $887 on procedural abortions. Though this Bill will also slightly increase the patients’ monthly premiums, the patient will still be saving a great deal on abortions as a whole. This Bill comes at a pivotal moment in history, following the overturn of Roe V. Wade in 2022.
The Freedom to Walk Act - Assembly Bill 2147 - has also gone into effect as of January 1. This Bill effectively changes the current law surrounding jaywalking. Police will not be permitted to ticket a person for jaywalking, as long as the jaywalker is doing so safely, and there is not an immediate threat of being hit by a car. Similarly, according to Senate Bill 357, police will not be able to ticket people who are “loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.” This also allows those who have been convicted of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution to petition the court to dismiss or seal their case, and possibly resentence.
Assembly Bill 1287 deals with price discrimination based on gender, which is more commonly referred to as the “Pink Tax.” The Pink Tax is a nickname given to the price disparity between two items of substantial similarity based on the gender the item is intended for. This term was coined due to the overwhelming number of products that cost more simply because they are marked as a product for women. This bill will ensure products that are “substantially similar” will be priced the same, regardless of gendered marketing.
Senate Bill 1162 will enforce salary disclosure for companies with 15 or more employees. This means in any job listing, the company or employer will be required to post the pay scale for the posted position. This Bill will also require companies/employers with 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report to the Civil Rights Department. According to the Bill, the data pay report would include “the median and mean hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex within each job category.” Previously, to receive such information, the department would have to seek an ordinance requiring the employer to comply and cover the costs of permits and provisions.
Assembly Bill 1949 will grant most employees up to five days of bereavement leave after the death of a loved one. This time would not come out of the employee’s paid sick or vacation days, it would simply be an addition to that time. The five days can be taken any time within three months of the date of death. This Bill comes after a troubling 2022 mental health report by the California Health Care Foundation, in which it was revealed that nearly one in seven California adults experiences a mental illness. Mental illnesses are also among the most common illnesses in the state.
California will also be observing a few new holidays in 2023; Lunar New Year, Juneteenth, and Genocide Remembrance Day.
Two new laws have gone into effect in an attempt to create more affordable housing and decrease the homeless population within the state. One of these laws, Assembly Bill 2011, will allow developers to build housing on previously commercial land without a permit as long as “the development satisfies specified objective planning standards.” One of which is the inclusion of a certain percentage of affordable housing.
As previously stated, these are just a few of the many new laws taking effect in California this year. For more information and to view more of the new laws, visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/home.xhtml.
VOL. 113, NO. 2 - Jan. 11, 2023
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