A glimpse at some of the new laws for 2023
Compiled by Mary-Justine Lanyon
This past year, the state legislature passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed nearly 1,000 bills into law. Many of these won’t necessarily intersect with your everyday existence. But many of them — from a bump in the minimum wage to changes for cyclists — likely will affect your community, businesses or family.
• On Jan. 1, the minimum wage in California increased to $15.50 an hour. The minimum wage has been gradually increasing under a 2016 law that brought workers’ hourly minimum pay from $10 to $15. While larger companies hit the $15 per hour minimum wage in January 2022, smaller businesses had an extra year to meet the requirement. The extra 50-cent boost in 2023 is because the law includes a provision requiring the minimum wage to increase with inflation.
• SB 1375 gives qualified nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives the ability to perform first-trimester abortions in California without the supervision of a physician.
• AB 2282 increases penalties for people who use hateful symbols as part of hate crimes — swastikas, nooses, desecrated crosses — and expands restricted locations to include K-12 schools and colleges. The bill was introduced by Democratic Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and 17 co-authors from every legislative ethnic caucus. It passed the Senate 39-0.
• People in California who have served time in prison will have a chance to appeal to have their criminal records sealed. SB 731 will allow people who have served time on or after Jan. 1, 2005, to automatically have their records expunged as long as they haven’t been convicted of another felony in the past four years. Those with violent or serious felonies in their backgrounds wouldn’t get their records automatically sealed but would be able to petition a court to have them sealed. Sex offenders would not be eligible.
• Under SB 903, California will be required to collect data each year on how many people are exiting prison into unstable housing – or outright homelessness. Researchers have found a strong link between leaving prison and entering homelessness but have struggled to find exact data.
• SB 107 aims to make California a sanctuary state for transgender health care, shielding transgender people, including youth and their parents, from legal action from states with bans and restrictions.
• AB 2963 requires workplaces to continue providing employees with COVID-19 exposure notifications until 2024.
• AB 2147 allows pedestrians to jaywalk (or cross the street outside of an intersection) without being ticketed, as long as the crossing is done when it’s safe to do so.
• AB 44 bans the sale and manufacturing of new fur clothing and accessories. It does not apply to used fur products, leather, cowhide, faux fur or shearling.
• AB 2011 aims to boost housing production and affordability by turning unused retail spaces into homes and communities. It goes into effect on July 1.
• AB 1594 allows the state attorney general, local prosecutors and anyone who suffered harm as a result of gun violence in California to sue firearm manufacturers.
• AB 1314 creates a system similar to Amber Alert but for indigenous people who have gone missing “under unexplained or suspicious circumstances.”
• AB 1909 makes four changes to laws affecting bicyclists, as well as drivers and pedestrians who share California roads. Advocates say the bill will make biking safer. Three of the changes became effective on Jan. 1. The bill will require drivers to change lanes before passing a cyclist, if a lane is available. The bill also prohibits cities from requiring bicycle licenses. The third change removes a statewide 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 fourth part of the bill doesn’t go into effect until 2024. It will allow bikers to cross the street at pedestrian signals instead of only at green traffic lights.
• In addition, Governor Newsom signed several new state holidays into law in September including Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24), Juneteenth (June 19), Lunar New Year (on the second or third new moon following the winter solstice) and Native American Day (fourth Friday of September).