Here Are Some of the Major Bills Just Signed Into California Law

Legislation to protect the most vulnerable Californians, the environment and creative license will go into effect on New Year's Day

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in San Francisco.

New Year's Day will bring Californians a cornucopia of new rules after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office signed 997 new bills into law this week, all set to kick in on Jan. 1.

Residents of the Golden State can count down to new legislation designed to protect some of the state's most needy constituents, bolster the environment and reproductive rights, and protect creatives from content landing them in court.

Here's what to know about some of the bills recently signed by the governor.

Birth Control and Abortion Care

Affordable birth control and abortion care remain a bellwether of California freedoms. With the coming year, nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners will be able to offer abortion care procedures. The bill also launches a pilot program to distribute vending machines with contraceptives and menstrual products.  A state-sponsored website allows people outside of the state to access California’s comprehensive abortion care.

Closing the Pay Gap

Closing the pay gap for women gets closer to a reality in 2023. New legislation requires wage transparency in hiring and HR practices. It also eliminates the “pink tax” on products marketed specifically to women.

Climate Change and the Environment

California will continue to lead the nation in protecting the environment with more than 40 bills and $54 million in funding to fight climate change. The goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 is codified in next year's laws. New gas and oil wells will require a setback distance of 3,200 feet. Other wide-ranging plans include exploring nature-based solutions to climate change and the creation of the nation’s first extreme heat ranking system.

Protecting Creative Content

Rappers and other creatives will likely applaud AB 2799. Gov. Newsom and Assemblymember Jones Sawyer were joined online by California based-MCs Meek Mill, Tyga, YG, Too $hort, Killer Mike, Ty Dolla Sign and E-40 for the virtual signing of the bill which ensures creative content (lyrics, videos, performances, etc.) cannot be used against artists in court without judicial review.

Housing and Health

Healing and housing are on the table in a new bill that plans to take a community-minded approach to delivering treatment and services for substance abuse and behavioral health problems. 

Sacramento plans to address the state’s housing crisis as a combined affordability and climate issue, with a new plan to streamline the building process. The bill prioritizes putting housing closer to public transit lines and eliminates some unwieldy parking requirements for new constructions.

Worker Protections

Protections for fast food workers and street vendors will also increase when the new year rolls in.  The state is easing the process for vendors to get local health permits, and with the FAST Recovery Act (Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act) fast-food workers will have an increased role in setting fair wages and health and safety standards across the industry.

Sealing Some Criminal Records

The state of California will be sealing the criminal records of select former offenders if certain standards are met. In order for their criminal record to be sealed, the former offenders must complete their sentence and maintain a clean record for a minimum of four years.

Other Bills Signed Into Law

The governor’s announcement also gave details on bills designed to address smaller, “everyday” problems faced by the populace.

  • To deter the recent skyrocket in thefts of catalytic converters, the state now mandates all recycled parts be trackable. 
  • If rubber-burning, donut-sculpting hotrodders have made your street an auditory hellscape, next year that level of noise may cross a legal limit.
  • Watering your lawn may make you a pariah in your neighborhood, but you can trade it in and get a turf rebate starting next year. There’s $75 million in the state's fund for water efficient landscaping.
  • The Freedom to Walk Act allows people to cross the street away from an intersection without being ticketed.

The governor vetoed 169 bills, saving billions in tax dollars, according to the official statement. The action marked the last day for the governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before Sept. 1 and in Newsom’s possession on or after Sept. 1.

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