New laws affect traffic, the workplace and more

By Judy Abel 

Special to Paso Robles Press / Atascadero News 

CALIFORNIA — Each year California enacts new legislation with dozens of changes to state law. Here are some new laws that took effect on Jan. 1, 2023:

The Freedom to Walk Act nearly legalizes jaywalking. Crossing the street outside a designated sidewalk won’t automatically be a ticketable offense. 


However, if law enforcement deems the action of a rogue walker creates an “immediate danger of a collision” then a jaywalking ticket can be issued.

Vehicles must move over to an adjacent lane of traffic if one is available before passing a bicyclist. AB 1909 also prohibits governments from requiring bicycles to be licensed. 

California’s minimum wage is increasing to $15.50 an hour. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is nearly $17 an hour.

Pay equity is behind SB 1162, which expands on existing transparency laws that mandate all workplaces with 15 or more employees to include a salary range in job postings. Employers with more than 100 workers must submit certain data to the state, including salaries of employees and contractors broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity.

Removing the “pink tax” is behind AB 1287. The law prohibits charging a higher price for goods that are similar in kind like razors, shampoo, and deodorant just because they’re marketed to women.

To help college students meet academic goals, 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.

It will now be easier for sidewalk street food vendors to obtain local health permits. Backers of SB 972 claim it will improve community health and safety while helping vendors enter the economy to build businesses and provide for their families.

AB 2799 aims to protect rap artists by restricting prosecutors’ use of the artists’ creative content like song lyrics and music videos against those same artists in court.

Local State Senator Ben Allen backed SB 1322 that requires oil companies to post on their websites how much profit they’re making in California.

Known as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, SB 1183 allows California children up to age 5 to sign up for free books in both English and Spanish.

AB 1242 protects women seeking an abortion by prohibiting law enforcement or state corporations from cooperating with or providing information to out-of-state entities regarding lawful abortions in California. It also prohibits law enforcement from knowingly arresting a person for aiding a lawful abortion in the state.

Gender affirming care will be protected under SB 107 which will protect transgender children and their families who flee to California from other states that criminalize a range of social, psychological, behavioral and medical interventions “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with the gender they were assigned at birth.

A new state law prohibits police from using evidence collected from “rape kits” from sexual assault survivors to be used to prosecute those victims in other criminal cases. Police departments can no longer retain the victim’s DNA to be used against them in the future.

SB 1044 prohibits an employer, in an event of an emergency, from retaliating or disciplining an employee who refuses to report to work or leaves a workplace because they have a reasonable belief that the work area is unsafe. Employers are prohibited from taking a worker’s mobile device or preventing them from seeking help. The law defines an emergency as a natural disaster or criminal act. A health pandemic is not listed as an eligible emergency.

AB 1949 allows workers to take up to five days of bereavement leave for the death of a close family member, such as a spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild. The leave may be unpaid at companies without a bereavement policy or workers may use available sick time if company policy only allows for up to three days of bereavement leave.

AB 44 outlaws the sale and manufacturing of new fur products and clothing in the state. California is the first in the country to implement a statewide ban. The law does not apply to used fur products and clothing.

Plus, four new state holidays will be celebrated in 2023; Lunar New Year (Jan. 22), Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24), Native American Day (Sept. 22), and Juneteenth (June 19).