These new California laws take effect January 2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several new bills into law during the last legislative session. Here is a look at some of the new laws that will impact your life beginning January 1, 2024.

Agricultural workers immigration parole (SB 831) 

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, certain non-citizens may be granted "parole" to allow them to enter or temporarily remain in the U.S. for specific reasons. It authorizes the state to work with the federal government to establish a program to allow undocumented agricultural workers in California to work legally.

Arbitration enforcement (SB 365)

California trial court proceedings are not automatically suspended during the appeal of an order dismissing or denying a petition to compel arbitration. This new law allows courts the discretion to decide whether a case can proceed while an appeal is heard.

Bicyclists in traffic (AB 1909)

This bill extends authorization to cross the intersection to a bicycle, unless otherwise directed by a bicycle control signal.

Borderline personality disorder classification (AB 1412)

This bill removes borderline personality disorder as an exclusion for pretrial diversion. People with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder have already been able to avoid jail and instead receive mental health treatment if they were charged with a non-violent offense.

Campsite reservation (AB 618)

Under this law, those who cancel their reservation at least 7 days before the start of their booking get a credit that can be used for another reservation within 5 years. Those who do not show up after the first day will forfeit the remainder of the booking. The law also frees up spots at campsites by capping the number of days that people can stay at the same campsite per year at 30. It also limits the length of reservations during peak seasons to 7 straight nights. The law applies to all state parks, including the 150 parks that do not use the Reserve California booking system. 

Catalytic converter theft crackdown (SB 55)

This law prohibits motor vehicle dealers from selling a vehicle equipped with a catalytic converter unless the converter has been permanently marked with the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), with some exceptions. AB 641 makes it a misdemeanor for a person to possess nine or more used catalytic converters that have been cut from a vehicle, with some exceptions. AB 1519 makes it a misdemeanor to remove or alter any VIN or other unique marking that has been added to a catalytic converter, and it also makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly possess three catalytic converters that have a VIN or other unique marking removed or altered.

Child sex trafficking (SB 14

Under this law, child sex trafficking will automatically qualify as a serious felony, like crimes including rape and murder. This means those found guilty could spend more years in prison. Classifying the offense as a serious felony also limits instances when someone accused of child sex trafficking could negotiate a plea bargain.

Concealed carry (SB 2)

This law strengthens the state's restrictions on who can carry a firearm in public. It restricts people under 21 from getting a concealed carry permit and also requires all permit holders to have more training, including on how to safely handle, store and transport firearms. 

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The law also sets limits on where people can carry a firearm called "sensitive places" which include schools, parks, playgrounds, and banks.

Conservatorship expansion (SB 43)

The new law expands the standards for deeming a person "gravely disabled" to include people whose mental illness or drug addiction inhibits their ability to keep themselves safe.

Cruising ban (AB 436)

This bill lifts the restrictions on lowrider cruising statewide. It also rescinds the ability of cities and towns to impose their own cruising bans, which many had in place until recently. The resolution encourages cities to repeal their bans and recognizes that cruising holds cultural significance for many communities. 

RELATED COVERAGE: New California laws 2024: Lowrider cruising in California to become legal statewide

The previous law had been in place since 1988 when lawmakers introduced and signed a bill that allowed local governments to pass anti-cruising ordinances. It also allowed them to stop cars that have tires below a certain size, and stop vehicles that have been lowered under a certain height.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: California bill would repeal cruising, lowriders ban

Driver's license renewal alternatives (AB 1606)

This law allows the establishment of a program to evaluate the traffic safety and other effects of renewing driver’s licenses by virtual or other remote processes. This is in addition to current online renewal options offered to most drivers under 70 years old. The program would allow drivers 70 and older to complete certain driver’s license renewal requirements, such as vision and knowledge tests, by virtual or remote means. Drivers 80 and older would still be required to renew in person at the DMV. 

Driver's licenses can't be impounded for not paying fines (AB 1125)

This repeals existing law authorizing courts to impound a person’s driver’s license and order the person not to drive for 30 days if they fail to make an agreed upon installment payments for bail or a fine. The law is intended to reduce the harm caused to people with low incomes who need to drive to work or access essential services.

Ebony Alert (SB 2)

The bill enables the California Highway Patrol to activate the new Ebony Alert upon request from local law enforcement when a Black youth or young Black woman is reported missing "under unexplained or suspicious circumstances," is considered "at risk, developmentally disabled, or cognitively impaired" or has been abducted. It applies to missing Black youth and women between the ages of 12 and 25.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'Ebony Alert' System proposed for missing Black women, youth

It is similar to the Amber Alert system. The CHP may use highway signs and encourage news outlets to disseminate information from the Ebony Alert, the law says.

RELATED COVERAGE: New California laws 2024: Ebony Alert aims to find missing Black children, young women

Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Act (SB 497)

This law  makes it easier for employees to establish retaliation claims in California. It amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5, and 1197.5 to create a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer takes an adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in certain protected activity.

‘Excited delirium’ cause of death ban (AB 360)

This bill prohibits coroners, medical examiners and physicians from listing what is known as "excited delirium" as a cause of death. It also bars law enforcement from using the term in an incident report and in a court of law, the term is now considered "inadmissible."

The controversial term became widely known in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. Floyd was held down under police officers' body weight for over nine minutes. 

Excited delirium can be marked by agitation, aggression and, on occasion, sudden death. But many leading medical organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Medical Association, do not recognize exited delirium as a condition.

Fentanyl sentences (AB 701) 

People convicted of dealing or attempting to deal more than a kilogram of fentanyl will face additional prison time under this law, which increases punishment for people who deal the deadly drug.

Food handler cards (SB 476)

Employers are required to pay their workers for all costs associated with obtaining a food handler card. Previously, all training and testing for the state-mandated certification had been the employee's responsibility.

Gender-neutral toys (AB 1084)

The law requires some retail stores in California to offer a gender-neutral section for children "regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys." 

RELATED COVERAGE: New California laws 2024: Gender-neutral toy sections required at stores

Stores that do not comply with this law will be "liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $250 for a first violation or $500 for a subsequent violation, as provided."

Hate symbols penalties increase (AB 2282)

This law expands the definition of "hate symbols" to include additional symbols and locations. This includes any symbols or marks "with the intent to terrorize another person," such as Nazi symbols and nooses. The bill also emphasizes the need to address hate crimes with symbols against certain minority groups.

Human trafficking notices at pediatric care facilities (AB 1740)

The law requires facilities that provide pediatric care, meaning any facility that offers pediatric services, to provide a mandatory notice concerning slavery and human trafficking. This notice should include information about specific nonprofit organizations that individuals can contact for services or support in combating slavery and human trafficking. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in a civil penalty of $500 for the initial offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

ID card pilot program for San Diego County inmates (AB 1329)

This law requires the DMV and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to implement a pilot program to provide eligible inmates a valid identification card or driver’s license when they are released from a county detention facility. The law is intended to expand on the progress of the Cal-ID program, which streamlines access to support services, such as medical, housing and right-to-work documents upon release. 

Improved visibility on crosswalks, intersections (AB 413)

This law prohibits a person from parking a vehicle within 20 feet of either side of any marked or unmarked crosswalk, or within 15 feet of any crosswalk where a curb extension is present. It also permits local governments to allow parking for bicycles or motorized scooters within 20 feet of a crosswalk.

LGBTQ youth and foster parents (SB 407

Directs the California Department of Social Services to ensure LGBTQ youth are placed with supportive and gender-affirming foster parents.

Minimum wage increase

California’s minimum wage will increase to $16 per hour for all employers on January 1. Some cities and counties in California have a local minimum wage that is higher than the state rate. The change in the minimum wage also affects the minimum salary an employee must earn to meet one part of the overtime exemption test. 

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As of Jan. 1, 2024, employees in California must earn an annual salary of no less than $66,560 to meet this threshold requirement. In 2023, the minimum wage was $15.50 for all employees regardless of employer size.

Mobile opioid treatment (AB 663)

This law allows mobile pharmacies to dispense medications used to treat opioid addiction.

Noncompete agreements and notice requirements (SB 699, AB 1076) 

Employers are prohibited from entering into noncompetes with California employees that are void under state law. It also prohibits employers from attempting to enforce such noncompetes against California employees, regardless of whether the employee executed the agreement in another state or worked in another state when executing the agreement. This law requires employers to notify current and former employees about unlawful noncompete covenants in their employee agreements.

Off-duty cannabis use and drug test results (SB 700)

(Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images)

SB 700 modifies existing law to make it unlawful for an employer to request information from an applicant relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis, or to use prior criminal history of cannabis use. 

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This bill retains the same exemptions noted above, adds an exemption where other state or federal law permits criminal cannabis use history and exempts employment in the building and construction trades.  

Paid sick leave (SB 616)

The new law's modifications apply virtually to all employees who work in California for 30 days or more in a year.  Employees must be eligible to earn at least five days or 40 hours of sick leave or paid time off within six months of employment.

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Further, this bill modifies the alternate sick leave accrual method to additionally require that employees have no less than 40 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 200th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.

Physician's assistants and abortions (SB 385

The bill allows physician's assistants in California to perform surgical abortions without the direct supervision of a physician.

Reproductive leave loss for employees (SB 848)

It expands California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to provide covered employees with protected leave after a reproductive loss. Under existing law, it is "unlawful for an employer to refuse to grant a request by any employee to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member." This law expands FEHA’s protections and makes it an "unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by any employee to take up to five days of reproductive loss leave following a reproductive loss event."

Sex abuse laws, statute of limitations (AB 452)

This bill eliminates the time limit for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault for civil actions that arise on or after Jan. 1 of 2024. 

Civil claims for sexual abuse before that date still fall under existing state law that prohibits filing on or after the survivor's 40th birthday or 22 years after the survivor attains the age of majority or within five years of the plaintiff discovering the impact of their experience.

Social media transparency (AB 587)

This law requires social media companies to publicly post their content moderation policies and semiannually report data on their enforcement of the policies to the attorney general. The law will only apply to companies that generated more than $100 million in gross revenue during the preceding calendar year.

Speed cameras (AB 645)

The law allows the installation of cameras on a trial basis in the following cities: Los Angeles, Glendale, Long Beach, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Speed cameras will issue automatic tickets for drivers going at least 11 mph over the speed limit. 

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The cameras would be prioritized in areas around schools, high-injury intersections, and known street racing corridors, to reduce speeding and traffic fatalities. Civil penalties would be $50, $100, $200 or $500 for exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph, 16 mph, 26 mph and over 100 mph. 

State mushroom (AB 261

The bill officially deems the Golden Chanterelle as California's official state mushroom.

Traffic school non-attendance (AB 466)

This law removes provisions making the failure to attend traffic violator school a misdemeanor and clarifies that the failure to attend traffic violator school is not punishable as a new offense. It also clarifies that the underlying conviction of a person who fails to attend traffic violator school shall not be confidential and the person shall have traffic violation points assessed, as applicable.

Verifying registration before removing a vehicle (AB 925)

This law requires a peace officer or traffic enforcement official to verify the lack of current vehicle registration with the DMV before towing a vehicle for expired registration longer than six months and prohibits the vehicle from being towed if the officer or traffic enforcement official does not have immediate access to those records. 

A handful of new laws go into effect in April and July 2024. You can find those below.

Hidden fees (SB 478)

The purpose of this law is to prevent businesses from being deceptive about the final cost of a product or service. It prohibits "fees in which a seller uses an artificially low headline price to attract a customer and usually either discloses additional required fees in smaller print or reveals additional unavoidable charges later in the buying process." This includes items and services such as hotels, tickets for live events, and food delivery fees.

Minimum wage increase for fast food workers (AB 1228)

Starting April 1, minimum wage for fast food workers increases to $20 per hour. Additionally, the Fast Food Council gets to work. The council will set fast-food restaurant standards for minimum wage, and develop proposals for other working conditions, including health and safety standards and training.

RELATED: California raises minimum wage for fast food workers

Minimum wage increase for healthcare workers (SB 525)

This law raises the pay for hundreds of thousands of California healthcare workers to a $25 minimum wage. It means medical technicians, nursing assistants, custodians and other support staff will see a gradual wage hike. Although wage increases will begin rolling out in 2024, the timeline for implementation depends on facility type. Large health systems with more than 10,000 workers and dialysis clinics must implement the law fully by 2026, while rural independent hospitals and those with a high mix of Medi-Cal and Medicare patients have until 2033 to implement the new wage minimums.

RELATED: California could raise health care workers' minimum wage to $25 an hour

Right To Repair Act (SB 244)

Under this law, manufacturers are required to facilitate the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of electronic or appliance products by offering documentation, parts, and tools to any owner, service and repair facilities, and service dealers on fair and reasonable terms. This requirement applies whenever manufacturers make similar materials available to authorized repair providers. Manufacturers must also make available documentation, parts, and tools for at least three years after the product was last manufactured for products priced between $50 and $99.99 and for at least seven years after the product was last manufactured for products priced at $100 or more, regardless of any warranty periods.

Security deposits cap (AB 12)

Renters in California will no longer be asked for a security deposit larger than one month's rent. Previously, state law allowed landlords to ask renters for security deposits equivalent to two months’ rent for unfurnished units, or three months’ rent for furnished units. That doesn’t include the first month of rent.

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Gun tax (AB 28)

This law adds a 11% state tax on firearms and ammo sold in the state starting in July 2024 — making California the only state in the U.S. to have such a tax. This tax is on top of existing federal taxes. Depending on the gun type, the federal tax is either 10% or 11%. Revenue from the tax, estimated by state officials to be about $160 million a year, will help fund violence prevention programs.