California legislation covers everything from zoning to minimum wage
New California laws begin to take effect today as the new year starts.
The nonprofit newsroom CalMatters reported that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 770 new laws in 2021. While the timeline for these laws varies, there are several major laws taking effect at the turn of the year.
The minimum wage in California is officially changing. As of today, businesses with 26 or more employees are required to pay at least $15 an hour. Businesses with fewer employees are required to pay $14 an hour this year, but will be required under this law to increase it to $15 an hour in 2023.
Tangentially, the Garment Worker Protection Act was passed, cracking down on how manufacturers pay garment workers. The law was reintroduced by state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Madera, and makes employers pay an hourly wage rather than paying according to the amount of clothing a worker produces.
Prior to this, garment workers were effectively getting paid as low as $3 an hour, according to CalMatters. The new law also holds big-box retailers accountable for garment workers’ wages rather than just the third-party manufacturers where the retailers outsource labor.
And to address the California housing crisis, lawmakers passed new laws allowing builders to develop duplexes or several houses on properties that were previously zoned as “single-family.”
Additionally, smaller apartment buildings are now able to be built near public transit, allowing developments to skip environmental review.
These new zoning laws do not apply to areas deemed historically significant or environmentally sensitive.
While ideally this provides more affordable housing for lower-income individuals, critics argue this law may disproportionately benefit big-name developers.
Also today, Senate Bill 1383 is taking effect, and now California residents and businesses are required to sort out organic waste, preventing it from going to landfills. There is a statewide target organic waste reduction of 75% by 2025. (Fines for not abiding by this new law will not be issued until 2024.)
And Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Los Angeles, introduced a new police decertification law, preventing cops with misconduct charges from relocating to a different police force.
Under the law taking effect today, misconduct charges include offenses such as sexual assault or using excessive force.
The law created a new division within the State’s Commision on Peace Officer Standards and Training and a nine-member advisory board, which will investigate possible misconduct and decide whether to strip an officer of their certification.
Officers are also no longer allowed to use rubber bullets and tear gas during protests or public gatherings, unless they are mitigating a life-threatening situation.
In other legislation, a new mental health parity law holds insurers and health plans accountable to provide follow-up appointments within 10 business days regarding non-urgent health issues. Insurers can still push back appointment dates, but only if a clinician determines it will not be detrimental to the patient.
To appease pushback from insurance agencies, the start date of this law was delayed until July 2022.
Following elections during the start of the pandemic, Senate Bill 37 solidified mail-in ballots as a norm, allowing residents to vote by mail or in person.
Under another new law, “stealthing” or non-consensual removal of a condom during sex is now considered sexual battery.
And public schools now are required to provide menstrual products in bathrooms by the 2022-23 school year.
Under another law, assisted suicide drugs are now required to be administered more quickly, within 48 hours rather than 15 days.email: email@example.com