By Andrew Sheeler
From The Sacramento Bee
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—A slate of new California laws set to go into effect on Jan. 1 touches on everything from police accountability to housing reform, ketchup packets, and how veterinarians gather blood donations for sick pets.
Some laws Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last year, such as a ban on the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers and a requirement that large retailers maintain a genderless kids area, don’t go into effect until a couple of years from now.
Here’s a round-up of some of the high-profile laws set to take hold New Year’s Day:
California’s sky-high housing costs compelled lawmakers to look at easing barriers to construction, resulting in the passage of a package of bills aimed at creating more homes.
Senate Bill 8 maintains limitations on local governments’ ability to “downzone” neighborhoods without planning to increase density in other areas until the year 2030. The law also regulates policies which would make it harder to build affordable homes.
Senate Bill 9 lets property owners build a duplex on a single-family lot, or to divide their property into two for a total of four units.
Senate Bill 10 makes it so that cities or counties can pass an ordinance allowing for the streamlined construction of as many as 10 units on a single parcel.
One of the most high-profile laws to come out of the California Legislature in 2021 was Senate Bill 2, which gives the state the authority to strip police with misconduct records of their certification.
The law aims to prevent cops with a record of misconduct from resigning before facing discipline and applying for a job in another jurisdiction in the state.
Under the law, the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training would be able to review a local agency’s investigation into an officer’s behavior and determine whether to revoke certification by a two-thirds vote.
Physical abuse, gang activity, sexual assault, dishonesty, or tampering with evidence could trigger a review. The law allows police officers to review and contest any disciplinary action.
Another law going into effect on Jan. 1, Assembly Bill 48, restricts the ability of law enforcement to use kinetic and chemical weapons, such as rubber bullets or tear gas, during protests.
Under the law, police must make an effort to deescalate the situation and allow people the opportunity to leave the scene. The law also requires police to make an “objectively reasonable effort” to identify people who are engaging in violent acts, compared to those who are not, and prohibits police from indiscriminate firing into crowds.
Finally, Senate Bill 98 is set to go into effect in the new year, allowing journalists access to closed-off demonstrations and protests.
Businesses operating in California will have to undergo some changes beginning in the new year.
For one thing, companies like Amazon that maintain warehouses in the Golden State will be required, under Assembly Bill 701, to tell their employees about quotas, and also will be prevented from using quotas so high that employees would be denied the ability to take a meal or bathroom break.
Another change coming in 2022 will affect California’s beauty industry: Barbers and cosmetologists will only be required to take 1,000 hours of training in order to get their license, under Senate Bill 803; that’s down from the previous 1,600-hour requirement.
Permanent Mail-in Ballots
If you liked getting your ballot mailed to you in the last election, there’s some good news: Assembly Bill 37 makes statewide mail-in ballots a permanent feature of future elections.
The new law requires that all county elections officials in the state mail a ballot to every active registered voter, regardless of whether that voter has requested it.
If you’re a fan of in-person voting, not to worry: Physical polling locations will still be available. The new law doesn’t change that.
In 2022, California will officially eliminate the legal distinction between “rape” and “spousal rape.”
While spousal rape was already a crime in California, Assembly Bill 1171 modernizes “antiquated” state legal language, and prohibits varying penalties depending on whether the victim is married to their assailant.
Beginning Jan. 1, it will also become illegal for someone to remove a condom during sex without obtaining verbal consent from their partner. Assembly Bill 453 expands the definition of sexual battery in the legal code to include “stealing,” as the act is referred to.
Canine Blood Colonies
California will begin to phase out closed canine “blood colonies”—used to harvest blood for veterinary medicine—beginning in 2022.
The new law, Assembly Bill 1282, empowers veterinarians to operate community animal blood banks, sourcing blood from pets volunteered by their owners.
It also requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture to discontinue licensing for captive, closed-colony canine blood banks within 18 months of determining that community blood banks sold an annual amount of canine blood in California equaling or exceeding what the closed-colony blood banks sold over a period of four consecutive business quarters.
Restaurants and Bars
Say “so long” to those ketchup packets and single-use plastic forks that you get with your food order. Unless you ask for them, they won’t be included, under Assembly Bill 1276.
The new law requires restaurants to cut down on plastic waste by withholding single-use plastic items such as plasticware or soy sauce packets unless they are specifically requested by the customer.
The law gives jurisdictions until June 1, 2022, to authorize an enforcement agency to enforce the requirement.
The good news is, you can still get that champagne cocktail to go.
While the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control permitted restaurants to sell to-go cocktails as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the policy was set to expire at the end of 2021. Enter Senate Bill 389, which extends the order through the end of 2026.
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