Californians welcome 2023 with more than two dozen new laws.
Californians welcome 2023 with more than two dozen new laws. Credit: Adobestock.com, Chris Allen, VOICE

S. E. Williams

While America already leads the world in laws and incarcerations, states never miss an opportunity each year to add a new set of “do’s and don’ts” to the ever-growing list of enforceable regulations. Once again, California is doing its part to keep America in first place with a list of new laws effective January 1, 2023 to regulate citizen behavior and provide an enhanced sense of safety in local communities. 

Recognition

Beginning in 2023, California will recognize Juneteenth as a new state holiday on June 19. (AB-1655 ).

April 24 will be officially recognized as Genocide Remembrance Day in California. (AB-1801).

Also this year, the requirement for the governor to annually declare Lunar New Year as a state holiday is discontinued. (AB-2596). 

Walking and riding

Jaywalking is now decriminalized in California. As a result, pedestrians can now legally cross the street outside of designated intersections under safe conditions. (AB-2147).

There are several changes to bicycle and vehicle laws in 2023, including bikes being allowed to cross streets on pedestrian signals, cities and counties can no longer enforce bicycle license laws. Also, drivers can now change lanes, when possible, to pass bicycles. (AB-1909).

Women and their bodies

Pregnant persons in California are now shielded from both criminal and civil liability in the event of a miscarriage, stillbirth or self-managed abortion. (source: columbiauniversity.edu)

California is now shielding pregnant people from both criminal and civil liability in the event of a miscarriage, stillbirth or self-managed abortion. (AB 2223).

In addition, employees are now protected from discrimination based on their reproductive health decisions, including using contraceptives. (AB 2223). 

The Contraceptive Equity Act has removed requirements for employees to disclose those decisions as a condition of employment. (SB-523).

Gender Bias

Families with transgender children and teens who come to California seeking medical treatment are now protected from out-of-state subpoenas or warrants. The same holds true for families that move to California to avoid consequences for having already sought such treatment elsewhere. (SB-107). 

It is now illegal for companies to charge different prices for products based on the gender they are marketed to. This practice is referred to as a “pink tax”. (AB-1287).

Employment

The minimum wage in California increased on January 1, 2023 from $14 to $15.50 per hour. (SB-3).

It is now illegal for an employer to refuse to grant bereavement leave for up to 5 days for an employee upon the death of a family member. (AB-1949). 

Hotels are now subjected to civil penalties if employees fail to inform police officials of sex trafficking at their establishment. (AB-1788). 

California farmworkers now have expanded protections that allow them to vote by mail in union elections, rather than being forced to vote in person. (AB-2183).

An applicant no longer needs to be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States to become a police officer in California. You must, however, be legally authorized to work in the U.S. 

Elections

State’s presidential electors are now required to cast ballots for candidates who win the popular vote and cannot switch candidates or abstain from voting. (SB 103). 

Crime

Beginning January 1, 2023, the only person who can sell a catalytic converter is an automobile dismantler, repair dealer or a person with documentation that they are the lawful owner. (SB-1087).

Also, those who recycle catalytic converters are now required to obtain the year, make and model of the car that the converter comes from, and to obtain a copy of that car’s title. (AB-1740).

The only persons who can now  sell a catalytic converter is an automobile dismantler, repair dealer or a person with documentation that they are the lawful owner. (source: ky3.com)

Anyone convicted of misdemeanor child or elder abuse on or after Jan. 1, 2023, will be prohibited from possessing a firearm in California. This is in addition to existing law which states that people convicted of felonies and certain specified misdemeanors are prohibited from owning guns in the state. (AB-2239).  

It is now illegal to make or sell clothing or products made of animal fur in California. (AB-44).  

Police in California are now able to keep individuals in custody for misdemeanor or felony retail theft provided that person was arrested or convicted of theft from a store in the past six months, and if the individual is suspected of being part of an organized retail theft operation. (AB 2294).  

There are no long restrictions on hunting wild pigs whose population is exploding in 56 (including Riverside and San Bernardino) of California’s 58 counties. (SB-856). 

Community impacts 

In an effort to provide improved connectivity for low-income and underserved communities a blueprint will be created for deploying broadband, including expanded wireless access, throughout the state. (SB-717). 

The Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Act now allows family members, first responders and clinicians to seek a judicial order to treat individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. The treatment could include medication, housing and therapy. Those who refuse treatment could be placed in a conservatorship and ordered to comply with the treatment. (SB-1338). 

City and county governments statewide can no longer implement a minimum requirement for housing developments to provide parking, provided the developments are within a half-mile of public transportation. (AB 2097).

State determinations

An audit of all surplus state property is required to determine what land is suitable for housing construction. (SB 561). 

The operation of California’s last functioning nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon may be extended by as much as five years. The extension authorization includes a loan of $1.4 billion from the state to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to operate it during the extension. The plant was previously scheduled to terminate operation beginning in 2024, with completion scheduled for 2025. (SB 846).

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.