New laws for the new year
By Chris Rooney
Along with tossing out those empty champagne bottles and reviewing your list of resolutions, January 1 is also the time to take note of a litany of new laws and regulations. This year is no different, with lawmakers responding to the impacts of COVID- 19, the lack of housing, and other societal factors to crank out new legislation. Here are a few of the new laws for 2022.
While restaurants can no longer deliver cocktails to your home along with food orders, you can still order cocktails-to-go thanks to SB 389, which extends a rule from last year that allowed restaurants a muchneeded revenue stream during COVID- related shutdowns.
Selfish pet owners have been abusing the loose regulations surrounding emotional support dogs for years, but AB 468 at least starts to curb the problem. The bill attemps to prevent people from falsely presenting a run-of-the-mill doggy as a legit animal trained to assist people with real disabilities. The law also requires businesses that sell emotional support dogs and related props, such as certificates, tags, vests, and leashes, to inform the buyer that the support dog isn’t entitled to the same privileges as an authentic service, guide, or signal dog.
Based on where an employee works, it might be time for a raise. SB 3 requires the minimum wage for all industries to rise to $15 for companies with 26 or more employees and $14 for firms with 25 or fewer employees. Also for workers, AB 701 clamps down on warehouse productivity quotas that critics say jeopardize health and safety. The law requires companies to disclose quotas, prohibits them from punishing workers who take bathroom breaks or rests, and creates a legal path for employees to challenge working conditions.
A few new laws address housing. After years of battles over singlefamily zoning and housing density, legislators passed SB 9, which streamlines the process to split lots, add second units to the properties, and convert homes into duplexes. Experts estimate it could add hundreds of thousands of homes across the state by allowing up to four units on some properties that had just one before. Another measure, SB 10, allows cities to rezone some parcels in urban areas for up to 10 units without being subjected to extensive environmental reviews. However, SB 10 generated lawsuits as soon as it was signed. Less litigious is SB 487, which loosens regulations that limit square footage for a project based on lot size, which could clear the way for more small apartment buildings.
Keep your eyes on that big mirror when getting your hair styled or cut because the person with the shears might not have very much experience. SB 803 significantly reduces the amount of coursework and training required for barbers and cosmetologists. Now, barbers and cosmetologists will need to have just 1,000 hours of coursework and training, 600 fewer than before for cosmetologists and 500 fewer for barbers. The bill also creates a new license for hair stylists, who can do many of the same things and only need 600 hours of education. Supposedly a boost to employment, this bill was protested by many in the industry.
Fearmongers tried to spin the conspiracy theory that you would be deprived of bacon or charged hundreds of dollars for eggs, but Proposition 12 was still overwhelmingly approved by voters. Essentially, the law calls for more humane treatment of farm animals. Expect some higher prices at your grocery store, but know that chickens and pigs are being tortured less. The measure requires farmers to source eggs sold in California from cage-free hens. Also, breeding pigs must be raised with at least 24 square feet of usable space per pig.
Recycling remains unnecessarily confusing, but AB 881 might help, as it raises the standards for how local governments report plastic trash sent to other countries and apply credit toward recycling goals. Some of these plastics end up being burned or dumped in landfills after they arrive overseas. The measure discourages waste haulers from urging consumers to recycle film packaging and other types of flimsy plastics that have little reuse value.
Aspiring scofflaws, AB 1475 cares about your privacy. Law enforcement agencies are now limited in when they can post jailhouse booking photos on social media. The bill also prohibits police from posting mug shots when they arrest someone on suspicion of committing a nonviolent crime. The bill’s backers said publicly posting unflattering arrest photos fuels an internet-mob mentality and can irreparably harm the lives of suspects who haven’t been proven guilty.
Another law protects victims: AB 43 gives cities the authority to reduce speed limits in increments of 5 mph in areas determined unsafe for pedestrians and bike riders. The thinking here is that the state’s existing standards set limits based on the speed drivers feel comfortable driving at, rather than what’s actually safe.
Native American children and others who miss school to partici- pate in cultural ceremonies or events won’t have to worry about being marked truant. AB 516 adds such events to the state’s list of reasons for excused absences for K-12 students. A cultural event is defined as an event related to the “habits, practices, beliefs, and traditions of a certain group of people.”
More fodder for Fox News comes via AB 1084, which requires large stores to have a gender-neutral area or display for selling children’s toys and items. The bill does not ban boys’ and girls’ sections in stores, but requires the addition of a neutral area. Stores that don’t comply by 2024 could face fines of up to $500 for repeat violations.
On a similar theme, transgender college graduates will be entitled to a diploma that reflects their true identities via AB 245, which gives transgender and nonbinary graduates of California public colleges the ability to have the names that reflect their gender identities printed on diplomas, rather than the names they were assigned at birth. They must, however, show documentation that their name has legally changed.
Big Oil has lobbyists, and so does Olive Oil. Scammers falsely claiming to sell California-grown olive oil will be thwarted by AB 535, which requires that any bottle of olive oil sold in the state that contains the word “California” on the label actually be derived from olives grown here. If not, the seller must specify what percentage of the oil is from olives grown elsewhere.
COVID-related stress, depression, and mental health issues are on the rise. Thanks to SB 221, seeking help may be a bit easier, as the legislation requires insurance companies and health plans to provide timely follow-up care and reduce wait times for patients seeking help for mental health and substance use issues.
As raging wildfires have become the norm, any law curbing the threat is both welcome and overdue. SB 332 reduces liability for those conducting prescribed control burns for the purpose of wildland fire hazard reduction, with the hope this will encourage the clearance of more dry fuel ahead of the next fire season.
California is making it easier for terminally ill patients to obtain a lethal prescription and end their lives on their own terms. SB 380 shortens to just 48 hours the previously mandatory 15 days that patients must wait between making two separate requests for life-ending drugs. Many patients have died before they were able to complete the process because they became too sick.
While some states are trying hard to prevent people from voting, California’s elections officials will mail every active registered voter in California a ballot for all future elections under AB 37, permanently extending a pandemic safety measure.
Finally, police reform takes many forms and some new laws are weighing in. AB 89 raises the minimum age for new officers to 21 and directs the community college system to develop a mandatory policing curriculum. Under AB 958, police officers could be fired for participating in a “law enforcement gang,” a group of officers within a department that engages in a pattern of rogue on-duty behavior. AB 481 requires law enforcement agencies to seek approval from their local governing bodies when they buy surplus military equipment. AB 26 instructs police to adopt policies that mandate immediate reporting when an officer witnesses a colleague using excessive force and punishes those who do not intervene. Police can no longer use restraints and transport methods that carry a substantial risk of suffocating a suspect under AB 490, and AB 48 prohibits police from firing rubber bullets or tear gas at a protest unless it is a life-threatening situation. More personnel records will be subject to public disclosure under SB 16, including those related to excessive use of force and sustained findings of failure to intervene, unlawful arrests and searches, and discrimination.
Depending on the crime, some laws are lighter and others harsher for 2022. SB 73 ends mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, giving judges discretion to hand down probation instead of jail time for offenses such as possessing a small amount of heroin for sale and manufacturing methamphetamine. SB 81 directs judges considering sentencing enhancements to give greater weight to mitigating factors, such as whether the offense was connected to mental illness or childhood trauma.
However, the state is also cracking down on sex crimes. AB 1171 eliminates the criminal code provision that treats “spousal rape” differently from rape, making prison time and sex offender registration mandatory, and AB 453 criminalizes the nonconsensual removal of condoms during intercourse, known as “stealthing.”