Each year the legislature works to move bills to the governor’s desk for his consideration and signing. Although many bills never reach the governor’s desk, 836 did before the Oct. 10, 2021 deadline. Of those bills, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 770 into law ranging from raising of the minimum wage to requiring ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement.
Here is a sampling of new laws in effect as of Jan. 1.
AB 101: High school graduation requirements: ethnic studies – Commencing with the graduating class of 2029-30, high school students will have to have taken a one semester course in ethnic studies to receive a diploma.
SB 3: Starting Jan. 1, California’s minimum wage increases to $15 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees making California’s minimum wage the highest in the country. On Jan. 1, 2023, employers with fewer than 26 employees will also see a rise from the current minimum wage of $14 an hour to $15. The current federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25.
AB 701: Warehouse distribution centers — Provides that an employee shall not be required to meet a quota that prevents compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities and prohibits punishing workers for taking mandatory rest and bathroom breaks.
AB 26: Peace officers: use of force — Creates a duty for law enforcement personnel to intervene when observing another officer using excessive force and to report incidents of unnecessary force to a superior officer.
AB 490: Law enforcement agency policies: arrests, positional asphyxia — Prohibits a law enforcement agency from authorizing techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia, a position that prevents the person from breathing. It further limits the use of rubber bullets and other less-lethal weapons during protests and demonstrations, except when necessary to protect life or to gain control of a dangerous situation. Police agencies will be required to release reports on their use of any such weapons.
SB 98: Public peace: media access — Prevents police from blocking journalists covering protests and demonstrations from entering areas closed by police and ensures reporters can be in protest areas without being arrested. Prohibits police from “intentionally assaulting, interfering with, or obstructing” their news gathering.
SB 16: Peace officers: release of records — Expands SB 1421 (2018) to permit public access and release of certain law enforcement personnel records after a sustained finding of misconduct. Such records become disclosable with a sustained finding of prejudice, discrimination, unreasonable use of force, failure to intervene when another officer has used excessive force or conducted unlawful searches and arrests.
SB 2: Peace officers: certification: civil rights. Increases accountability for law enforcement officers who commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights. The licenses of officers who commit “serious misconduct,” including using excessive force, sexual assault, displaying bias or participating in a law enforcement gang can be decertified for such wrongdoing and prevent them from keeping their record of wrongdoing secret and seek employment as a peace officer in another jurisdiction.
AB 89: Peace officers: minimum qualifications — increases the minimum qualifying age from 18 to 21 years of age for specified peace officers.
AB 481: Law enforcement and state agencies: military equipment — Requires law enforcement agencies to seek approval from their local governing bodies before purchasing surplus military equipment.
AB 953: Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) — Enacted in 2018, compliance requirements were staggered for agencies depending on the number of officers in the agency. Police agencies with fewer than 333 officers, like Winters, must start complying and collect data on every stop they make between Jan. 1 and April 1, 2023.
Required data includes observed age, race, gender, disabilities, reason for the stop and result of the stop. RIPA data to be collected is based on the officer’s perception, not collected from driver’s licenses or other forms of identification.
Housing, planning and zoning
SB 9: Housing development: approvals — Creates a streamlined process to split lots, add second units and convert homes into duplexes. Makes it possible under certain circumstances for homeowners to build two houses or a duplex on a single-family zoned lot. Provides homeowners with additional means to add new housing, but homeowners would be required to remain in their homes for at least three years after splitting their lots.
SB 10: Planning and zoning: housing development: density — Allows a local government a simplified process to rezone single-family parcels near public transit hubs and within urban areas to multi-unit housing to build out existing communities.
Both SB 9 and SB 10 are intended to help ease the lengthy review process for homeowners and developers, but projects will still be subject to final city approval.
Climate change, food recovery
SB 1383: Mandates reduction of organic waste going into landfills by seventy-five percent by 2025. Food service providers, distributors. supermarkets and industries falling under the Tier 1 category are responsible for reducing organic waste that creates greenhouse gases and route edible food otherwise diverted to landfills to the food insecure. The Express reported on the City of Winters plans in “City begins process to comply with state food recovery mandate” published in the Dec. 29 edition.
Residents are expected to separate their own organic waste from the trash and recyclables and discard them with their green waste. As per Waste Management, the company is not currently policing residential compliance.
Waste Management continues to update residents and businesses on any changes or updates to their current green waste and recycling programs laid out last year.
Fire and wildfires
SB 332: Civil liability: prescribed burning operations: gross negligence — Reduces liability of those doing prescribed control burns for the purpose of wildland fire hazard reduction. Intended to facilitate more private controlled burns by reducing the legal liability if a fire jumps control lines and requires an emergency response. Conduct constituting gross negligence will be recoverable for fire suppression charges and associated costs.
SB 12: Requires local governments to include comprehensive retrofit strategies to reduce the risk of property loss and damage during wildfires in housing elements or the hazard mitigation plan. Areas with very high fire risks would be required to adopt zoning requirements and implement fire mitigation strategies.
SB 389: Alcoholic beverages: retail on-sale license, off-sale privileges. Allows restaurants to continue selling cocktails-to-go until Dec. 31, 2026, but no longer allows delivery of cocktails. Cocktails-to-go was a result of the pandemic and restrictions on restaurant dining.
Assistance for terminally ill
SB 380: End of life — Eases the state’s assisted suicide process by making it easier for terminally-ill patients to obtain a lethal prescription to end their lives.