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Terry McLaughlin: New laws in 2022

Terry McLaughlin | Columnist

Just weeks after beating back a recall effort, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a whopping 770 new laws that go into effect this year. Some have a buffer window written into them before they take effect, but most kicked in Jan.1. Here’s a look at how some of these new laws may affect you or our community.

Assembly Bill 37 codifies the executive order requiring mail-in ballots be sent to every registered voter in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. AB 37 makes that change permanent, and expands it to include even local elections. You will still have a chance to vote in person if you desire.

As of July 1, middle and high school classes will not be allowed to start earlier than 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively. The law exempts some rural school districts, so local parents may want to check with their student’s individual district regarding future scheduling.

Senate Bill 224 mandates mental health instruction in middle and high schools with existing health education courses. Content would cover a range of topics, including habits that promote mental wellness, signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions and ways to seek help.

Over the past decade, rates of hospitalization for mental health emergencies has increased dramatically among children and adolescents. California emergency rooms reported a 42% increase in the number of children treated for mental illness between 2012 and 2019, and the consequences of the pandemic have only exacerbated that trend.

Assembly Bill 101 makes ethnic studies a requirement for all students to graduate from high school. The law is scheduled to go into effect by the 2024-25 school year, beginning with the class of 2030.

Senate Bill 1383 requires all California residents and businesses to sort their organic waste from other waste and recycling. The program will take effect in phases, so expect to hear more details from our local Waste Management company. Fines for non-compliance will begin to be issued in 2024.

The minimum wage for businesses with 26 or more employees has increased to $15 per hour. That is more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. California businesses with fewer than 26 employees will be required to raise their lowest wages to $15 in 2023.

Effective July 1, a new law will make it possible for family members, teachers, co-workers and other associates to petition a judge to seize “ghost guns” from someone they believe could be a danger to themselves or others. Ghost guns are those that are purchased in parts and assembled at home, making them more difficult to track.

During the pandemic, the sale of takeout alcoholic drinks was allowed. Senate Bill 389 extends this permission through 2026, and also makes it possible to continue ordering cocktails, beer, and wine in outdoor dining “parklets” for the next five years.

Beginning June 1, restaurants will be prohibited from handing out single-use silverware or condiments such as ketchup packets or soy sauce unless specifically requested by the customer. So be sure to request a fork the next time you order a salad at the drive-through!

Not for the squeamish: California is launching a pilot program that will allow people to collect and eat roadkill — “deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pig” that have been killed by a vehicle. You will be required to report your finding and secure a permit before you dig in.

Assembly Bill 1096 strikes the word “alien” from the California state code, replacing it with words like “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”

The waiting period required for terminally ill patients to request fatal drugs has been slashed. The time between the two required requests has been dropped from 15 days to just 48 hours.

The sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other small off-road engines will be prohibited by as soon as 2024.

A phone tax to fund high-speed internet in underserved areas was extended.

Assembly Bill 1084 requires that large department stores that sell children’s products maintain a gender-neutral section of toys and child care products such as toothbrushes. Stores that do not comply could face a penalty of up to $250 for first offenses and up to $500 for second offenses.

Assembly Bill 453 makes the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex, also called “stealthing,” a form of sexual battery, allowing victims to sue their sexual partners for damages.

Senate Bill 9 will make it easier to split a property into a duplex by removing some of the layers of bureaucracy. The details of the law are complicated, but could make it easier for property owners to add more units of housing to their property.

Police are now prohibited from using rubber bullets or tear gas to disperse crowds at a protest, thanks to Assembly Bill 48. Senate Bill 98 prevents police from blocking journalists covering protests or demonstrations.

A law passed in 2018 required corporations to add more women to their executive boards. As of Jan.1, to be in compliance with the law, companies with five directors must have at least two women, and companies with six or more directors must have at least three women directors.

This is just a sampling of the 770 new laws enacted in California that could affect you — the good, the bad, and the bizarre!

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com


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