New Wave of California Laws Bans Bobcat Hunting, Allows Eating Roadkill

October 24, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

During a recent bill-signing spree, California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved everything from abortion pills in universities to decriminalizing dining on roadkill.

Newsom passed several measures that never made it past the desk of his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown and issued veto messages for more than 100 others.

Affordable Housing Bill Vetoed

Among the bills that Newsom vetoed was SB-5, which would have allowed counties and cities to use $2 billion a year from property tax revenues to pay for affordable housing projects.

Here are some examples of the legislation the governor signed into law:

Abortion Pills

Under SB-24, authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), California State University and University of California students will have access to “medication-induced abortion.” Abortion pills will be available at student health centers by Jan. 21, 2023 at all 34 campuses for students who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. SB-24 was passed by a 29-11 vote in the Senate and a 59-19 Assembly vote.

The California Family Council (CFC) opposed the bill while ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACT for Women and Girls, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, NARAL Pro Choice California, and Students United for Reproductive Justice at UC Berkeley promoted the bill.

CFC stated that “chemical abortion medication has a notorious reputation for being very painful and traumatic.” The organization said most student health centers do not have the medical equipment nor staff to make sure the drugs are taken safely.

Nurse Staffing Shortages

SB-227, also authored by Leyya, will allow state health officials to make surprise inspections of hospitals to check nurse staffing levels, following complaints that some hospitals have ignored the state’s nurse-to-patient ratios. The new law sets out hefty fines and other penalties for violations.

Dialysis Dilemma

Another controversial bill, AB-290, authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), puts a cap on the profits of dialysis companies, even though similar legislation such as Proposition 8 was rejected not only by Brown but by the majority of California voters in the Nov. 6, 2018 election — the same election that put Newsom in the governor’s seat.

According to Ballotpedia, about 60 percent of voters rejected Prop. 8, meaning they “opposed requiring dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements.”

Smoking and Vaping Bans

SB-8, written by Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), bans smoking or vaping at all state beaches and parks, except for on paved roads and in parking areas. The penalty for violation of this new law, which takes effect next year, is a fine of up to $25. Similar efforts to ban smoking in state parks and beaches were vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Medical Marijuana at School

SB-223, otherwise known as “Jojo’s Act,” by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), will permit school boards to create policies that allow parents or guardians of students with severe medical and developmental disabilities to administer medicinal cannabis at schools. Previously, medical marijuana, although legal in California, was banned on school grounds. The medicinal cannabis, which is usually in edible form, cannot be smoked or vaped.

The bill was opposed by the California Police Chiefs Association, which stated: “One of law enforcement’s top priorities is to prevent any youth under the age of 21 from accessing all types of cannabis products. While we understand some parents may choose [to] treat their student’s illnesses with cannabis, we are opposed to allowing parents or guardians to administer the drug to their student while on school grounds. We are concerned this exemption would be exploited which could jeopardize the safety of the other students.”

Fur Sales Banned

AB-44 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) implements a statewide prohibition on the sale and manufacture of new fur products in California.

Ban on Circus Animals

SB-313, authored by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) bans the use of bears, tigers, elephants, monkeys, and other wild animals in circuses.

No Bobcat Hunting

AB-1254 by Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) prohibits hunting, trapping or killing bobcats in California until 2025, when the state can issue limited licenses and implement a bobcat management plan that protects the species.

Horse Haven

AB-128 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) protects wild and domestic horses from slaughter. The new law requires operators of animal auction yards to post online any brand, tattoo, or implanted microchip a horse may have before being sold at auction.

Operators must maintain records of sales for one year and post notices at auctions that the sale of horses in California for slaughter for human consumption is a felony. Horse buyers must also sign a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, to comply with all laws pertaining to the sale and slaughter of horses.

Dead Animal Parts

AB-1260 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) adds iguana, skink, caiman, hippopotamus, and three types of lizards to the list of dead animals or their parts that are banned from sale or import.

Roadkill Revision

Newsom included in his bill-signing bonanza a revision to roadkill laws. SB-395, authored by Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), will eventually decriminalize the eating of roadkill in some parts of the state.

The new law authorizes the creation of a pilot program which is to identify three regions of California where there are high incidents of roadkill, no later Jan 1, 2022, and allow drivers to salvage the meat of some wild game animals, including elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and wild pig. The bill excludes animals protected by the California Endangered Species Act.

“By allowing the take of large animals after a highway collision, and by logging the site of the incident, we not only clean up our highways, we gather the necessary data to prevent the occurrence in the future,” Archuleta wrote.