Back in October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 770 new bills into law with many of them taking effect starting Saturday, Jan. 1.
For example, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $14 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and $15 for businesses with 26 or more employees. West Hollywood will pay the highest minimum wage in the country — $17.64 per hour.
And in a nod to technology, it will now be illegal for food delivery apps to retain any portion of a tip or gratuity, ensuring that it goes directly for the driver. If the order is for pickup, the gratuity must go to the restaurant.
There are plenty of other new regulations in 2022 addressing various norms of society.
Emotional support animal providers must now specify in writing that the animals aren’t entitled to the same rights as guide, service, and signal animals. Doctors will also only be allowed to recommend emotional support animals if certain conditions are met, including having a relation with a patient for longer than 30 days.
And equestrian riders who take their horses onto paved highways at night will be required to have either reflective equipment or a light on their body or the animal. In addition, any riders under 18 will be required to wear a helmet no matter what time of day they are atop their equine.
Law enforcement authorities will be impacted by several new regulations.
The most notable police reform bill that was signed into law occurred in 2021. It allows the state’s law enforcement accrediting body to decertify officers for serious misconduct — essentially kicking them out of the profession for things like sexual assault, perjury and wrongfully killing civilians. Previously, they could typically find employment in the same profession in other jurisdictions without repercussions.
But here are other significant regulations.
Law enforcement officers are now banned from using tear gas or rubber bullets to disperse protesters unless the situation becomes life-threatening. Just as critical — law enforcement agencies must ban officers from using techniques that may lead to positional asphyxia, or airway compression that hinders breathing.
Police departments must also establish policies that require officers to immediately report when a co-worker has used excessive force and prohibits retaliation against officers who disclose violations. And the law mandates that officers who don’t intervene when excessive force is used be disciplined.
Another important change: Law enforcement agencies will be required to obtain approval from their local governments before purchasing surplus military equipment such as armored vehicles or large-caliber firearms. Governing bodies also are required to establish a policy that determines the quantity, type, use and training requirements.
There are new laws regarding mental health services.
The Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance must create timely access standards for health care service plans and insurers for non-emergency health care services.
The bill would additionally require, beginning July 1, that a health care service plan and a health insurer — including a Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan — ensure that an enrollee or insured that is undergoing a course of treatment for an ongoing mental health or substance use disorder condition is able to get a follow-up appointment with a non-physician mental health care or substance use disorder provider within 10 business days of their last appointment.
Some of the other new laws include:
— The state has agreed legally to extend rights for Native American tribes’ use of emergency vehicles. Starting in 2022, the definition of “emergency vehicle” will be expanded to include those owned or operated by a federally recognized tribe, responding to emergencies, fires, etc. The new law would also exempt drivers of tribal ambulances from needing a license from the CHP Commissioner.
— Spousal rape no longer being treated differently than rape. This means that prison time and sex offender registration will be mandatory for those who are convicted.
— Removing a condom without a partner’s consent, which also is known as “stealthing,” is now a crime. The law is the first in the country to classify stealthing as sexual battery.
— Residents who have committed nonviolent drug offenses will no longer have to face mandatory minimum sentences and will be eligible for probation.
— Companies are now required to disclose their productivity quotas for warehouse employees, and allow them to take rest or bathroom breaks without punishment. The law also paves the way for employees to take legal action when these requirements are not being met.
— Restaurants and food delivery services are not allowed to dole out single-use cutlery and condiments unless a customer requests them. But restaurants and other businesses with a liquor license can continue selling to-go wine and cocktails until Dec. 31, 2026.
— In future elections, every registered voter automatically will be sent a ballot by mail. Using a mail-in ballot is not mandatory, however, election officials are required to send a ballot to every voter. There will continue to be polling places open for early voting and Election Day.