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8 New California Laws That Went into Effect in 2023

New California laws for 2023

Each year, California legislators pass new legislation, which the governor eventually signs off before it takes effect. Here are eight new laws that have become effective in California in 2023.

  1. Minimum Wage Increase

On Jan. 1, 2023, the minimum wage in California increased to $15.50 an hour. Under a 2016 law, the minimum wage in the state has been gradually increasing. While larger companies hit the $15 per hour minimum wage in January 2022, smaller businesses have had another year to get there. 

There has been an extra 50-cent boost to the minimum wage in 2023 because the law requires the minimum wage to rise with inflation.

In July, the Department of Finance certified that a 7.9% year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index would require an increase in the minimum wage to $15.50 in 2023 for both small and large firms. It is important to remember that some cities and counties have a higher minimum wage than what is required by the state of California. You can find a handy, up-to-date list of minimum wage by counties and cities on the UC Berkeley Labor Center’s website.

  1. New Law for Bicycle Safety

Assembly Bill 1909 makes four modifications to laws that impact bicyclists. Safety advocates say this law will make roads safer for cyclists. The law requires drivers to change lanes before passing a cyclist if a lane is available. This is an improvement on the 3-foot law while passing bicyclists. 

Advocates say there are a number of “near misses” even with the 3-foot law in place. They hope the new law will give cyclists more safety cushion and reduce bicycle accidents.

The law also prohibits cities from requiring bicycle licenses and removes a statewide ban on Class 3 electric bikes, the fastest available. Local governments will still be able to ban these bikes from pedestrian and equestrian paths and trails. 

The fourth part of this law will go into effect only in 2024, allowing bicyclists to cross the street at pedestrian signals instead of only at green traffic lights. This will allow bicyclists to get a head start to get through intersections, which are often the most dangerous places.

  1. Penalties for Hate Symbols in Schools

AB 2283, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, increases penalties for those who use hateful symbols as part of hate crimes (swastikas, nooses, desecrated crosses, etc.) and expands restricted locations to include K-12 schools and colleges. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democratic Assemblymember, introduced the bill, which received a 39-0 vote in the Senate. Bauer-Kahan said the bill was prompted by existing law discrepancies and the uptick in hate crimes and hate symbols in school settings. 

The new law does not criminalize the display or placement of the swastika associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

  1. Jaywalking No Longer Illegal in California

Since Jan. 1, 2023, jaywalking has been legal in California thanks to the Freedom to Walk bill signed into law by Newsom in October. The legislation ends citations for jaywalking unless doing so leads to “an immediate danger of collision.” Assemblyman Phil Ting, who sponsored the legislation, said it “should not be a criminal offense to cross the street safely.” He also said: “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws do protect pedestrians.”

So, what happens if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle while jaywalking under this new law? Like most injury cases, these situations will be handled case by case. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit regardless of whether you were in a crosswalk at the time or not.

California’s comparative fault laws mean that one party or both parties could be partially at fault. You can seek compensation for your pedestrian accident even if you are partially to blame for the collision.

  1. Transparency of Pay Scales

Starting on Jan. 1, employers with at least 15 workers must include pay ranges in job postings. Employees can also ask for the pay range for their position. Companies with more than 100 employees on their payroll must provide more detailed pay data to the state’s Civil Rights Department than previously required.

Workers’ advocates hope this law helps shine more light on the growing workforce of contract employees. According to The New York Times, Google has more temps and contractors than full-time employees. The new law will reveal how contractors’ pay compares to that of full-time employees.

  1. Use of Rap Lyrics in Court

AB 2799, which was signed into law and went into effect this year, would require prosecutors who want to use “creative expressions” as evidence of a crime to hold a pretrial hearing away from the jury to prove that rap lyrics or other forms of artistic expression are relevant to the case. 

The bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, would require judges to balance the value of the evidence in a case with racial bias and “undue prejudice” when that evidence is presented to the jury.

  1. Eliminating the Pink Tax

AB 1287, authored by Rebecca Bauer Kahan, prohibits any individual, entity, or business from charging a different price for a product based on the customer’s gender. The law aims to eliminate the “pink tax,” which supporters call the extra costs to female consumers. 

Two products are considered substantially similar if they share a brand or similar materials, functions, and designs. Violators could face up to $10,000 in fines for the first violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

A number of studies have shown that women tend to pay more for similar products such as deodorants, shampoos, and clothing. A 2015 New York Department of Consumer Affairs study shows that products marketed to women cost 7% more than similar products marketed to men.

  1. Ban on Flavored Tobacco

On November 8, 2022, California voters upheld the state law SB 793 prohibiting tobacco retailers from selling most flavored products. The state law prohibits products including menthol cigarettes, e-liquids, e-juices, pods, or any other vape device or tobacco product accessory that contain any flavored liquid, regardless of whether it contains nicotine.

Research shows that flavored tobacco products are considered “starter” products. People who use them are more likely to become addicted than someone trying non-flavored tobacco products for the first time. The flavoring masks the harshness of tobacco products, which makes them more addictive and harder to quit. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flavored tobacco is more addictive than regular tobacco products. This law has been a long time coming, given the surge in e-cigarette use and vaping among youth drawn to flavors that target them, such as cotton candy, bubble gum, and fruity flavors.

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