Last year, the state Legislature passed and Governor Gavin Newsom signed nearly 1,000 bills into law. Many of them don't necessarily intersect with your daily existence. But many of them, from a minimum wage increase to changes for cyclists, are likely to affect your community, business, or family.
This year, CapRadio is focusing on 10 new laws that could impact your world.
Expand access to abortion
A new law will give certified nurses and midwives the ability to perform first-trimester abortions in California without a doctor's supervision.
To her,Senate Bill 1375Written by Senator Pro-Temp Toni Atkins, it builds on two existing laws:
- Assembly Bill 890, passed in 2020, allows nurses to practice independently
- Atkins' own AB 154, which was passed in 2013 and allowed nurses to perform first-trimester abortions under the supervision of a doctor.
Atkins says the new measure clarifies those laws and allows more trained nurses in high-need areas to perform surgical or aspiration abortions, which use suction to remove the contents of the uterus.
A 2017 study by the political and advocacy organization Guttmacher Institute found thatmore than 40% of California countiesdoes not have a clinic that offers abortions.
“California faces a potentially catastrophic provider shortage, especially in black communities and rural areas, a problem that is expected to worsen over the next decade,” Atkins said. “As women from restrictive states come to California, closing our provider gap is more important than ever.”
In November, California voters approved Proposition 1, a ballot measure that codified abortion as a constitutional right in the state.
Fast food increases salary
Fast food workers in California expected higher wages in the new year after Gov. Gavin NewsomHistoric legislation signed on Labor Day.
But now, the law can be lifted. It all depends on what happens in the next few days.
AB 257, or the FAST Recovery Act, would create an unprecedented fast food council to set rules for chains with 100 or more restaurants across the country.
The 10-person council is made up of four worker representatives, four employers, one person from the governor's office and one person from the Department of Industrial Relations.
Together they will set the minimum wage for fast food workers capped at $22 an hour.
The first step in creating the board required collecting 10,000 signatures of approval from fast food workers, which the state chapter of the Service Workers International Union says was accomplished with nearly double the number needed.
Tia Koonse is manager of legal and policy research at the UCLA Labor Center and says pay is only part of the plan.
“AB 257 would address working conditions that are longstanding problems in the fast food industry,” Koonse said. “So security, harassment, violence, retaliation, wage theft. This is certainly not the experience of all fast food workers, but it is the experience of a significant and considerable number; more than other industries.
But opponents of the law want to stop it before it starts.
A coalition calledsave local restaurants, whose biggest patrons are In-N-Out Burger, Chipotle and Starbucks (among others), submitted more than a million signatures to put the issue to a vote in 2024.
Fair623,212 verified signaturesThey need to qualify the initiative and suspend the law until the voters give their opinion.
SEIU, the state's largest union, says the restaurant coalition's signature-gathering effort deliberately misled voters and says it has video to prove it, whichthe LA Times reviewed.
New penalties for hate crimes in schools
Assembly Bill 2282, which takes effect on New Year's Day, increases penalties for people who use hateful symbols as part of hate crimes (swastikas, lasso, desecrated crosses) and expands restricted locations to include K-12 schools and colleges.
The bill was introduced in March by Democratic Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and 17 co-sponsors from all ethnic legislative districts. It passed the Senate 39-0.
“It was really a rally of people against this hate,” Bauer-Kahan said.
She says the bill was, in part, motivated by discrepancies in theexisting lei, as well as the increase in hate crimes and hangings in schools.
“A lasso, a swastika, and a flaming cross were all treated differently, both in where they could be legally placed and in how they would be treated as a sanction. They all needed to be treated equally,” Bauer-Kahan said. “We expanded into schools because we decided it was a sensitive space where we don't want our young people especially to be terrorized.”
Sacramento Police Departmentreported 112 incidents related to biasduring the first six months of 2022. Among the unresolved cases, one involved Dr. Elysse Versher, an assistant principal at West Campus High School, who was subjected tohate crimes against blackson school grounds earlier this year.
“I think that, especially in high school, the threat of a legal consequence will mitigate the behavior.” Versher said. “It is a tool to educate. To say: 'You can't write the N word on the wall at school. You can't racially attack and terrorize people.'”
Among the coalition that drafted the bill was the Anti-Defamation League.
“We want to fight against acts of intimidation, but we must also take into account the First Amendment and the right to freedom of expression,” said its regional director, Seth Brysk. "And we really believe that this bill strikes the right balance."
The new law does not penalize the display or placement of the swastika associated with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Minimum wage increase
On January 1, the minimum wage in California will increase to $15.50 an hour.
The minimum wage has been gradually raised under a 2016 law thatbrought workers' minimum hourly wage from $10 to $15. While the largest companies reached the $15-per-hour minimum wage in January 2022, smaller companies had an extra year to meet the requirement.
The additional 50-cent increase in 2023 is because the law includes a provision that requires the minimum wage to increase with inflation. The Department of Finance certified in July that a 7.9% year-over-year increase in the consumer price index would require the minimum wage to increase to $15.50 in 2023 for small and large businesses.
“The intent here is for the minimum wage to continue to rise at the expense of inflation,” said David Huerta, president of SEIU-United Service Workers West. “We believe that 50 cents helps workers in an inflationary economy to at least survive. But at the same time, we know that $15 is barely enough right now."
Some cities and counties have a higher minimum wage than is required by the state. UC Berkeley Job Centerkeep a list.
Clean slates for some damn people
People in California who have served prison terms will soon have the opportunity to appeal to have their criminal records sealed.
SB 731will allow people who served time on or after January 1, 2005 to have their records automatically deleted, as long as they have not been convicted of another crime in the last four years. Those with violent or felony crimes on their record would not automatically have them sealed, but could ask a court to have them sealed. Sex offenders would not be eligible.
The bill belongs to Democratic Senator María Elena Durazo. Proponents of the new law say that time in prison could permanently and unfairly change the trajectory of a person's life.
In California, many landlords, employers, and colleges and universities require a background check, and a criminal record can make it difficult for an applicant to obtain housing and a job.
Jay Jordan, executive director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a nonprofit organization that supported SB 731, said the barriers ex-offenders face in life after prison are called "collateral consequences."
“If the people who did time, who did everything the system said they had to do, don't get a second chance, that's not democracy, that's not justice, that's pure punitiveness,” Jordan said. "It's not only hurting themselves, but also their families, the economy, their community."
There has been some research in the past that points to the racial equity component of "clean slate" laws like this.A 2022 study from the UC San Francisco Institute for Health Policy Studiesshowed that white ex-cons were more likely to benefit from clean slate laws than blacks, for example. But this research was done on the laws that place more restrictions on who can apply. Supporters say they are hopeful SB 731 is expansive enough to prevent racial disparities like this.
Oil, gas and neighborhoods
A law requiring 1,200 feet of space between oil and gas wells and community areas will go into effect on January 1.
Environmental groups rallied around the idea ofSB 1137for years, saying that a space or “set-out zone” will keep communities further away from the impacts of leaking wells and contamination.
But shortly after the bill was signed into law in September,a referendum effort pushed by oil and gas companies was launched to undo it.
Members of the California Independent Petroleum Association spent millions in signature-gathering efforts to get the referendum on the ballot. A December 13 CIPA statement said the signatures had been sent to the state for verification.
Kobi Naseck, coalition coordinator for the environmental group VISION, says that even if the referendum effort succeeds, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of those protections. He says that Newsom and state agencies have the power to uphold the protections regardless.
“There is nothing to prevent CalGEM, which is the permitting agency in California, from simply stopping issuing permits within the reserve zone,” Naseck said. “All eyes are on the Newsom government in terms of being able to secure these protections for the next two years, should the referendum go on the ballot.”
The California Secretary of State is responsible for reviewing signatures and certifying that a referendum qualifies for voting. That office is likely to complete the review of the submitted signatures in January.
Ending the “school to prison pipeline”
A new law would task the California Department of Education with developing evidence-based best practices for restorative justice.
To her, written by Democratic Assemblyman Dr. Akilah Weber, is an effort to stop the so-called "school-to-prison" pipeline, which refers to the disproportionate and increased likelihood that students of color, especially black students, will be disciplined in school through suspension or ending up in jail as adults by the police
Weber, a physician, said that implementing restorative justice practices in schools is one way to target the social determinants of health.
“We need to start putting some things in place that work so that all students in California can achieve very strong academic foundations….
Restorative Justice Practicesfocus on mediation and community building, asking students to take responsibility for the harm they have caused. He also strives to make amends, focusing on the needs of those who have been wronged.
this is nexta 2020 reportshowing that the latter district has one of the highest suspension rates for black students, particularly boys, in California. The report recommended that the district use restorative justice as an alternative alternative, to "build communities and 'restore' relationships between all affected parties after an incident has occurred."
In the next legislative session, Weber hopes to introduce a new bill that would require all California schools to use the list of practices developed by the state department of education to ensure that all students, regardless of where their school is located, can benefit.
— Janelle Salanga
Rules to protect cyclists
Assembly Bill of 1909makes four changes to laws that affect bicyclists, as well as drivers and pedestrians sharing California roadways. Advocates say the bill will make cycling safer.
Three of the changes will go into effect on January 1. The bill will require drivers to change lanes before passing a bicyclist, if a lane is available.
Jared Sanchez is a senior policy advocate with the California Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit organization also known as CalBike. He said the change improves on the existing 3-foot law when passing a motorcyclist.
“There are a lot of near misses and a lot of accidents that happen to cyclists when you get too close,” Sanchez said. "Hopefully this will increase bike use and make it safer for people on the road."
The bill also prohibits cities from requiring bicycle licenses. The third change removes the state's ban on Class 3 electric bikes, which are the fastest available, from certain facilities, but local governments can still ban them from equestrian, hiking and recreational trails.
A quarter of the bill won't go into effect until 2024. Deb Banks, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said it will allow cyclists to cross the street at crosswalk signals instead of just green lights.
“That means [bicyclists] have a bit of an advantage going through the intersection, which are the most dangerous places for [them],” Banks said.
Understanding the problem of the "prison on the street"
California will have to collect data each year on how many people move out of prison into unstable housing, or homelessness, under a new law that goes into effect on January 1.
The researchers found astrong bondbetween being released from prison and homeless, but have struggled to find exact numbers.
Senate Bill 903Written by now-retired Senator Bob Hertzberg, it attempts to gauge this channel from "prison to the streets."
One reason current data isn't reliable is that inmates often tell parole boards they have housing, even if they don't, according to Chris Martin, director of policy for Housing California, an organization nonprofit that supported the law.
“If the answer is no, they don't get parole,” Martin explained. "They are in prison."
He said housing discrimination against ex-convicts "is rampant throughout our state" and is driving many onto the streets.
“When applying for a home, you have to say if you have a criminal record or not. And if you answer 'yes,' you won't get that drive,” Martin said.
The new law requires the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board, part of the Office of the Inspector General, to issue annual reports to the governor and legislature. These reports must include, among other findings, "data indicating the number of homeless probationers and the number of homeless probationers who have previously been identified as having serious mental health needs," according to the text. of the law.
Martin said he hopes the new law puts into motion plans for how the state can house people released from prison, not just while they're on probation, but permanently.
"Hopefully we can see this data inform some kind of strategy and ideas about where we go from here," he said.
Land for public housing
OAffordable Housing and Road Works Actidentifies areas zoned for parking, retail, or office buildings where the land can be used for housing. It also allows housing on that land and exempts these projects from local approval processes and the California Environmental Quality Act.
These exemptions can speed up the process and reduce the cost of building homes.Urban Footprint Analysisestimates that 108,000 acres of land would be cleared for home construction, with the potential for 1.5 to 2.5 million homes, 200,000 to 300,000 of which would not need a government subsidy.
This analysis also says a secondary benefit of the law,AB 2011, there will be a decrease in vehicle miles traveled and tailpipe emissions, as there will be homes adjacent to work and commerce.
Buffy Wicks, the Democratic Assemblymember who wrote the law, says it “marks a tipping point for California's housing production needs: land shortages will no longer be an issue. There will be no shortage of incentives for workers to join the civil construction workforce. And red tape and red tape will no longer prohibit us from building homes in the right places to deal with our climate crisis.”
The law goes into effect on January 1.
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