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These new California laws take effect January 2024


FOX-35, (LOS ANGELES)-  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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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." 

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."

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.

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. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: This California city now has the nation's highest minimum wage

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)

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. 

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.

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.

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."

Speed cameras (AB 645)

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

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. 

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