On January 1st, hundreds of new laws went into effect. Many are non-controversial or have limited impact, but some will directly affect the lives of thousands of Californians.
Among these are laws impacting businesses and employees. California’s minimum wage will increase to $14 for companies with 26 or more employees and $13 for smaller companies. California companies with 5 or more employees (instead of 50 or more) will now be required to provide 12 weeks of family leave. All publicly owned companies based in California will be required to have at least one woman on their board of directors, companies with 100 or more employees will be required to report employee wage data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to help identify potential discriminatory wage patterns, and businesses will be required to notify employees and the general public of any workplace coronavirus exposure within 24 hours.
Laws effecting public safety include a bill I sponsored to help reduce recidivism by allowing a reduction in parole for successful completion of medically assisted therapy (MAT). Another new law will increase penalties for texting while driving beginning in July, with two convictions within 36 months adding a point to your driving record. Juvenile prisons are being phased out -- youth committing serious crimes will be placed under county jurisdiction. Students acting out in school will no longer be referred to probation programs but will be directed into community support services.
Other new laws will shield people from civil/criminal penalties who break into hot cars to rescue children, and a flavored tobacco ban, scheduled to begin January 1st, is being delayed after opponents claimed they filed enough signatures to block the law through a ballot initiative.
For better or worse, these are just a few of the new laws for 2021.