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CALIFORNIA — In partnership with the Legislature, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed landmark legislation over the past year to support reproductive rights, increase affordable housing, hold Big Oil accountable and protect the safety, health and well-being of all Californians.

“California is more than just a state of dreamers, we’re a state of doers,” Newsom said in a news release. “Thanks to the Legislature’s strong partnership in 2023, the state is leading by example to create opportunity, and advance and protect the rights of all Californians.”

Following is a quick look at a few bills that took effect on Jan. 1, 2024:

Fighting for Reproductive Rights

As the country continues to reel after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, California is building on its nation-leading efforts to safeguard reproductive freedom for all Californians.

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s AB 352 requires companies that manage electronic health records to protect all Californians’ and visitors’ electronic medical records related to abortion, gender-affirming care, pregnancy loss and other sensitive services. This closes a major loophole in privacy protections for people traveling to California for abortion and gender-affirming care.

Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 345 protects providers and people from enforcement action in California of other states’ laws that criminalize or limit reproductive and gender-affirming health care services.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

To combat the opioid crisis, California is expanding lifesaving treatment to communities in need.

Assemblymember Matt Haney’s AB 663 allows for more mobile pharmacies to be created in communities across the state and enables them to dispense treatment medications for opioid use disorder.

Workers’ Rights

To help ensure Californians can take the time they need to care for themselves and their families, Gov. Newsom signed Sen. Lena Gonzalez’s SB 616, which expands the number of sick days available to workers from three to five.

Increasing Voter Access

California has some of the strongest voting laws in the nation and continues working to make elections more accessible for all. 

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin’s AB 545 allows voters with a disability to complete a regular ballot outside of any polling place — known as curbside voting — and removes the requirement for a voter to declare under oath that they are unable to mark their ballot in order to receive assistance doing so.

Taking on Big Oil

Gov. Newsom is committed to making Big Oil more accountable for fleecing Californians at the pump, according to the release.

Sen. Skinner’s SBX1-2 grants the California Energy Commission new authority to penalize refineries and set a maximum gross gasoline refining margin if necessary to help combat price gouging. It also creates a new independent state watchdog to investigate market or price manipulation.

Increasing Affordable Housing

The state is increasing the amount of affordable housing available for Californians. Legislation signed this year aims to speed up the process to secure permits and meet housing goals.

Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 423 extends and expands existing law, requiring local governments that are failing to meet state housing planning goals to streamline affordable housing projects. This will increase affordable housing throughout the state in uncooperative cities.

In addition, Wiener’s SB 4, known as the “Yes in God’s Backyard” bill, allows housing to be developed on property owned by religious or independent higher education institutions. These groups are given this authority “by right,” which requires no discretionary local governance intervention.

Addressing the Mental Health Crisis

Addressing the nation’s behavioral health crisis, Gov. Newsom signed legislation to improve health care delivery systems and make these services more accessible.

These efforts will help tens of thousands of Californians and fill critical needs across the state, from homeless Californians with severe behavioral health issues to kids suffering from depression and everyone in between.

Together, these reforms will be proposed to the voters for approval on the March 2024 ballot as Proposition 1.

Sen. Susan Eggman’s SB 326 reforms the Mental Health Services Act — making better use of Mental Health Services Act funding to address today’s needs and increasing accountability to the public.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin’s AB 531 would issue $6.38 billion in bonds to fund 11,150 new behavioral health beds and housing as well as 26,700 outpatient treatment slots.

Public Safety

In September, Gov. Newsom signed Sen. Shannon Grove’s SB 14 to steepen penalties for human trafficking of minors in California. The law designates human trafficking of a minor for purposes of a commercial sex act as a serious felony.

Streamlining the UC Transfer Process

AB 1291 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty establishes the University of California (UC) Associate Degree for Transfer Pilot Program, beginning with UCLA, to prioritize admission of a student who earns an associate degree for transfer (ADT) from selected community colleges and to redirect a student who meets those requirements but is denied admission to the applicable campus and offer admission to at least one other campus. 

Expanding ADTs to the UC system allows qualified community college transfer students to fulfill the requirements of an ADT and meet the requirements for participating UC and CSU campuses, streamlining the transfer process and saving students money by being able to earn two degrees in four years.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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