CALIFORNIA — Historic measures to fight climate change, protect women’s rights and expand pay equity are some of the hundreds of new California laws taking effect in 2023.

“California leads, and we do so by following our moral compass and staying true to our values,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed 997 new laws during last year’s legislative session. “The Legislature is an invaluable partner, and I thank them for their leadership and courage, and look forward to continuing our work to improve the lives of Californians across the state.”

With the beginning of a new year, many of the laws have already taken effect as of Jan. 1. Following is a snapshot of some of these Assembly and Senate bills:

Climate action

California has enacted some of the nation’s most aggressive climate measures in history, including legislation to cut pollution, protect Californians from big polluters and accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy.

AB 1279 codifies the statewide carbon neutrality goal to dramatically reduce climate pollution. The bill establishes a clear, legally binding, and achievable goal for California to achieve statewide carbon neutrality as soon as possible, and no later than 2045, and establishes an 85% emissions reduction target as part of that goal.

SB 1137 protects communities from the harmful impacts of the oil industry. The bill establishes a setback distance of 3,200 feet between any new oil well and homes, schools, parks or businesses open to the public; and ensures comprehensive pollution controls for existing oil wells within 3,200 feet of these facilities.

SB 1020 establishes a pathway toward the state’s clean energy future. The bill creates clean electricity targets of 90% by 2035 and 95% by 2040 with the intent of advancing the state’s trajectory to the existing 100% clean electricity retail sales by 2045 goal.

SB 905 and SB 1314 advance engineered technologies to remove carbon pollution, while banning the use of those technologies for enhanced oil recovery. The bills establish a clear regulatory framework for carbon removal and carbon capture, utilization and sequestration; and ban the practice of injecting carbon dioxide for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery.

AB 1757 enlists nature in the state’s climate agenda. The bill requires the state to develop an achievable carbon removal target for natural and working lands.

Freedom and abortion

As other states throughout the country outlaw abortion and criminalize patients and doctors, California continues to lead the nation’s fight for reproductive health care access and privacy.

AB 2223 helps to ensure that pregnancy loss is not criminalized, prohibiting a person from being criminally or civilly liable for miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero.

AB 2091 prohibits a health care provider from releasing medical information on an individual seeking abortion care in response to a subpoena or request from out-of-state.

AB 1242 prohibits law enforcement and California corporations from cooperating with out-of-state entities regarding a lawful abortion in California. The bill also prohibits law enforcement from knowingly arresting a person for aiding in a lawful abortion in California.

SB 523 expands birth control access — regardless of gender or insurance coverage status — by requiring health plans to cover certain over-the-counter birth control without cost sharing. The bill also prohibits employment-related discrimination based on reproductive health decisions.

SB 1375 expands training options for Nurse Practitioners and Certified Nurse-Midwives for purposes of performing abortion care by aspiration techniques.

Advancing equity

California is a big step closer to shrinking the pay gap thanks to new bills that strengthen its commitment to advancing gender equity and expand on existing transparency laws.

SB 1162 requires employers to make pay scale information available to employees and included in job postings. Building on a 2020 measure to identify patterns of wage disparities through mandated statewide pay data reporting, the bill expands state pay data reporting requirements, which include employee sex, race and ethnicity information, to cover contracted employees.

AB 1287 eliminates the discriminatory “pink tax” by prohibiting different prices for goods based purely on what gender they are marketed to. The bill allows for price differences when there is a significant difference in the cost or time to produce a particular good.

Other highlights

SB 103 ensures the state’s presidential electors cast ballots for candidates who win the popular vote and do not instead switch candidates or abstain from voting.

SB 561 requires an audit of all surplus state property to determine what land might be suitable for housing construction.

SB 717 creates a blueprint for accelerating broadband deployment, including expanded wireless access, in an effort to improve connectivity for all Californians, especially low-income people and the underserved.

SB 856 lifts barriers to hunting the destructive and invasive wild pig species, whose population is exploding in 56 of 58 counties.

SB 972 makes it easier for street vendors to obtain local health permits. This not only increases community health and safety, it also helps sidewalk food vendors formally enter the economy so they can build a successful business and better provide for their families.

SB 1107 improves liability coverage for California motorists, protecting people injured in crashes as well those exposed to paying higher medical and vehicle repair bills.

AB 1655, AB 1801 and AB 2596 introduce new state holidays beginning this year: Juneteenth (June 19), Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24) and Lunar New Year (on the second or third new moon following the winter solstice), respectively.

AB 1705 calls for community colleges to enroll their students in transfer level math and english courses if the program they want to transfer into requires those subjects. The new law aims to remove barriers to degree completion and help students meet their academic and career goals.

AB 2799 restricts the use of creative content, like song lyrics and music videos, against artists in court without judicial review.

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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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