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California Rings in New Laws Impacting Everything From the Price of Bacon to Green Waste

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Chez Hadley

Out with the old year and in with a new slate of over 700 laws passed signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, spanning everything from major police reform to the price of bacon and the minimum wage, which will increase to $15 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees, and $14 per hour for companies employing 25 or less.

While many of the laws don’t go into effect this year, all Californians will surely be impacted. Take composting for instance, it will be a mainstay for all state residents this year, as state jurisdictions are required to provide organic waste collection services to residents. That means that California residents and businesses will have to place unused food into “green” waste bins and subscribe to an organic waste collection service with fines of up to $500 daily in future years for those who don’t comply. 

Those of you caring for in-laws in addition to your own parents are now eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Additionally, the state has now raised the minimum qualifying age for police officers from 18 to 21, and officially on the books is a law requiring election officials to mail every active registered voter in California a ballot for all future elections. 

One of the most controversial new laws may raise the price of bacon and pork say opponents of the bill some have characterized as the strongest animal welfare law ever passed, mandating more space for breeding pigs and other farm animals. As just 4% of the hog industry in compliance, fears abound that bacon will disappear from the shelves of California grocers or increase in price by up to 60% and be in short supply.

Here are some other laws you might want to take note of:

Policing

• Law enforcement officers are now required to not only immediately report when a fellow officer has used excessive force —prohibiting retaliation against officers who do; but also paves the way for officers who don’t intervene when such force is used to be disciplined.

• Police are no longer permitted to use tear gas or fire rubber bullet at a protest except in life threatening situations.

• Law enforcement agencies are now required to review the misconduct records of police candidates before hiring them. Additionally, more types of personnel records will be available to the public.

• Effective January 1, law enforcement gangs—as with those associated with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department are now banned with involvement in them being grounds for dismissal.

• Officers are required to receive new training on the use of rubber bullets and tear gas and are not allowed to fire them indiscriminately into a crowd of group of people.

Crime/Criminal Justice

• AB1171 mandates that spousal rape be treated like any other rape and will include—if convicted—prison time and registration as a sex offender.

• Effective January 1, “stealthing” or removing a condom without a partner’s consent is a sexual battery crime.

• Police are prevented from using any techniques or restraints that hinders breathing or can lead to positional asphyxia.

• Thanks to SB73, mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes are a thing of the past. Judges now have discretion to hand down probation instead of jail time for those who committed such offenses.  

• Intentional theft of wages, including gratuities, benefits or compensation in the amount greater than $950 for one employee or more than $2,350 for two or more employees in a consecutive 12-month period will be punishable as grand theft, charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

• Judges considering sentencing enhancement are directed to give greater weight to such mitigating factors as whether the crime was related to mental illness or childhood trauma and whether the enhancement is based on a prior conviction more than five years old.

Hospitality Sector

• Order that drink to go as restaurants will be permitted to continue selling alcoholic beverages to go through December 31, 2026

•Customers will now have to ask for single-use utensils and condiments as that is the only way restaurants and food delivery platforms are permitted to hand them out.

Workplace

• Food delivery platforms are prohibited from retaining any portion of amounts that are designated as a tip or gratuity. All such amounts paid by a customer for a delivery order must be paid in full to the person making the delivery.

• Employers entering into separation or severance agreements with employees must now notify the employee that the employee has a right to consult an attorney regarding the agreement and must provide the employee with a reasonable time period of at least five business days to do so.

• The California Family Rights Act has been expanded to permit employees to take family and medical leave to care for a parent-in-law with a serious health condition or other “designated person” with a serious health condition and who has been identified by the employee at the time the employee requests family care and medical leave. The employee may designate a new person every 12 months.

• All staff and regular volunteers of youth organizations must undergo background checks and child abuse prevention training. 

Housing

• Property owners can now add a second home or two duplexes to a single family lot, given that the housing is not used for short-term rentals and does not require the demolition of affordable or rent-controlled housing where a tenant has lived within the past three years.

Health

• A health care service plan contract or a disability insurance policy that provides coverage for hospital, medical, or surgical benefits is now required to cover the costs for COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing and health care services related to the testing for COVID-19, or a future disease when declared a public health emergency by the Governor, even when someone is out of their healthcare provider’s network. 

• Starting on May 1, services provided through Medi-Cal will be available to income-eligible adults aged 50 and older, regardless of immigration status. 

• Cosmetics manufacturers must now disclose fragrance and flavor ingredients that might pose a health hazard with the to be displayed by the state via an online database. 

Miscellaneous

• Beginning in July, businesses offering online subscriptions must allow consumers to opt out at any time and with no conditions. Additionally, businesses will now be required to notify consumers before free trials and promotions lasting longer than 31 days expire and before annual subscriptions automatically renew. 

• All diaper and disposable wipes must include “do not flush” labeling starting in July.


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