Gov. Gavin Newsom signed almost 1,200 new laws this year, though not all of them took effect Jan. 1.
One that did go into effect Jan. 1 was another $1 increase in the California minimum wage. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, it increased from $11 per hour to $12 per hour. For employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage increased from $12 per hour to $13 per hour. The minimum wage will increase another $1 per hour in Jan. 1, 2021, and peak at $15 per hour in 2023.
The new laws affect a wide range of issues, including education, the environment, health care, housing and criminal justice.
At the workplace
Businesses planning to use independent contractors will be subject to new restrictions on the situations in which they can do so, and more of those workers will now be considered employees. The impact of this law on newspapers has been postponed one year.
Employers can no longer require current or new workers to agree to arbitration as a condition of having a job.
Interest rates on payday or installment loans of $2,500 up to $10,000 have their interest rates capped at no more than 36 percent.
Food service workers must wear gloves made of something other than latex.
An existing law that requires 90 days’ notice to renters who are evicted from a foreclosed property will stay on the books.
Landlords can now raise rents by no more than 5 percent plus inflation each year. Renters in cities with stricter existing controls will keep them.
Landlords can no longer turn away a person whose rent will be partially paid with a Section 8 voucher.
California homeowners now have more flexibility to build “granny flats,” or small housing units, on their properties.
State anti-discrimination laws now apply to apartments or homes rented through companies such as Airbnb.
Law enforcement officers can now use deadly force only when it’s “necessary in defense of human life,” a standard created following fatal officer-involved shootings across California.
The state’s civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse allegations has been extended for 14 additional years, allowing some to file claims up to age 40.
Sexual assault evidence collected through rape kits must be submitted to a crime lab within 20 days and tested within 120 days.
California officials can no longer sign contracts to use private, for-profit prisons.
School districts now have more power over the creation of new charter schools in their communities, and new teachers at charter schools will be required to hold the same credentials as those in traditional public schools, with the requirement being phased in over five years for existing teachers.
Children whose parents have unpaid school lunch bills won’t be denied access to at least an alternate meal selection, and can’t be shamed or treated differently than other students.
Students up to fifth grade can’t be suspended for disrupting school activities or willful defiance, effective with the school year that begins in August. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will also be protected from such suspensions for the next five years.
Californians will be required to have health insurance, an “individual mandate” similar to the one under the federal Affordable Care Act that became inoperative in 2019. Penalties for failing to enroll in a healthcare plan won’t kick in until taxes are filed in April 2021.
Women seeking birth control pills through apps such as the one offered by Planned Parenthood will no longer have to participate in video conferencing with a health professional for a prescription.
State health officials will create a new, standardized form doctors will fill out for parents who want a medical exemption from vaccinations for their children.
A new law banning smoking in state parks and beaches prohibits more than just tobacco cigarettes; it also applies to marijuana and electronic cigarettes. Even so, people will still be allowed to smoke in parking lots and on roads outside state parks and beaches.
The law requires the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation to post an estimated 5,600 signs at a total cost of $1.1 million to inform visitors of the prohibition. Once posted, people caught smoking may be fined up to $25.
Cigarette butts are a major source of pollution on beaches and along streams in California. River, creek and bay cleanup efforts in Santa Clara County in 2019 collected more than 30 tons of trash. Smoking will be banned at state parks and beaches this year.