The end of the year marks the beginning of several new laws in California.
Hundreds of new laws were passed by the State Assembly and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022, and many go into effect on New Year’s Day in the nation’s most popular state. They include matters of reproductive rights, worker protections and pay, the climate and environment, housing, health and more.
The governor signed nearly 1,000 new bills into law in October alone, but we’ve compiled some of the higher-profile laws below. Many add to or revise existing state law.
Here’s what to know about some of the new California laws in 2023.
Catalytic Converter Theft
Anyone who has started up a vehicle only to hear the telltale rumble that accompanies a stolen catalytic converter knows the aggravation that comes with the crime. Two bills, AB 1740 and SB 1087, aimed at cracking down on catalytic converter theft. AB 1740 requires recyclers to include additional information in the written record after receiving a catalytic converter, including the year, make, and model of the vehicle from which the device was removed. A copy of the title of the vehicle from which the catalytic converter was removed must also be provided. SB 1087 prohibits people from buying a used catalytic converter from anyone except certain certified sellers. That includes core recyclers.
Thieves swipe catalytic converters to sell the part, which is made of pricey metals.
There are some new laws in California in 2023, including the minimum wage and jaywalking. Ian Cull has the details.
Climate and Environment
Dozens of climate-related bills were signed into law by the governor in 2022. Some are part of a long-range plan that charts a course for a future less dependent on fossil fuels. AB 1279 sets a goal of California becoming carbon neutral by 2045. SB 1020 requires the state’s electric grid to be powered by renewable energy by that same year.
COVID-19 in the workplace
This law requires employers to provide employees with workplace COVID exposure notifications until 2024.
AB 2098 makes it easier for the state’s medical board to punish doctors who spread COVID misinformation.
Cracking Down on Sales of Stolen Merchandise Online
Two bills — SB 301 and AB 1700 — are designed to crack down on the sale of stolen merchandise online by strengthening requirements for online marketplaces. More information will need to be collected by the online marketplaces from sellers who move high volumes of products. The California Attorney General must set up a website to report stolen items.
Starting in June 2023, this law will provide more children up to age 5 with access to free books. The law paves the way for the expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Eliminating the ‘Pink Tax’
This bill was introduced in an effort to ensure that people won’t be charged a different price based on gender — who they’re marketed toward — for any two goods that are substantially similar, like razors. It empowers the state’s top prosecutor to seek an injunction and authorizes courts to improve civil penalties.
Food Vendor Protections
SB 972 revises the permitting process for street food vendors in California. Introduced by state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, the bill was designed to combat unpermitted vending.
“Street food vendors are woven into the culturally diverse and culinary fabric of California,” Gonzalez said. “These workers, however, lack access to the permitting they need to be able to work and provide for their families. This is due to policies in the California Retail Food Code that make it difficult for them to enter local permitting systems.
“SB 972 will remove those barriers and at the same time uphold public health and safety standards to protect consumers.”
In mid-December, Los Angeles City Council members requested a report on potentially creating a Provisional Sidewalk Vending Permit for street vendors awaiting to apply for their permit due to SB 972.
The city of Long Beach is helping educate street vendors about a new California law that will require them to obtain a health permit. Darsha Philips reports for the NBC4 News on Dec. 12, 2022.
Gender affirming health care
SB 107 was introduced as part of an effort to make California a sanctuary state for transgender health care. The law shields transgender individuals, including youth, from legal action from other states with bans and restrictions.
Dozens of bills were signed to fight the state’s homeless crisis and develop affordable housing. AB 2011 and SB 6 provide avenues to increase production and affordability by turning unused retail properties into home.
Jaywalking Decriminalized, In Most Cases
Cross with caution, but possibly without a citation. AB 2147 outlines when jaywalking offenses can be enforced. gov. Newsom vetoed the bill in 2021, but later relented and agreed with arguments made by its author. The law makes an exception if “a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle.”
Paid family leave
SB 951 revises formulas used to determine the share of paid family leave provided to lower-income Californians. The law increases leave benefits for lower- and middle-income employees to cover more of their regular income when they take time off to care for family and loved ones.
Similar to a New York law that requires employers to make salary ranges known in job postings, SB 1162 requires companies with 15 or more employees to post pay range on job postings. Employers also must provide existing employees with a salary range if asked for one.
Protections for Creative Expression
This law restricts forms of creative expression — such as sounds, words, movements and symbols in songs and music videos — from being used against artists in court without judicial review. Current law allows creative expression to be admitted as evidence in criminal proceedings “without a sufficiently robust inquiry” into whether the evidence introduces bias or prejudice into the proceeding, according to the text of the bill.
“In particular, a substantial body of research shows a significant risk of unfair prejudice when rap lyrics are introduced into evidence,” AB 2799 states.
Reproductive Rights and Abortion
Bills that were part of a package covering abortion care and birth control go into effect next year. That package includes protection from criminal and civil liabilities in cases of miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero. Another bill in the package prevents a health care provider from releasing medical information about an individual seeking abortion care in response to a subpoena or request from outside the state. The package includes a bill that prohibits law enforcement and California corporations from cooperating with out-of-state entities about a lawful abortion in California. A measure of expanding birth control access was also part of the broad package.
Social media and hate speech
Social media companies must publicly post policies on hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism under this law. AB 587 also requires companies to provide reports to the state prosecutor’s office regarding violations and enforcement.
Sealing Some Criminal Records
The criminal records of some offenders will be sealed if they meet certain criteria. The former offenders must complete their sentence and maintain a clean record for a minimum of four years. It excludes sex offenders and people convicted of more serious or violent crimes. Law enforcement agencies and schools will be allowed to access sealed records, which are shielded form employers and landlords.
California now has three, optional, new state holidays on the books including Juneteenth (AB 1655), Lunar New Year (AB 2596) and Genocide Remembrance Day (AB 1801).
SB 988 requires, no later than July 1, 2024, that state Office of Emergency Services to verify interoperability — the ability of computer systems to exchange and use information — between and across 911 and 988 call systems.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741, anytime.