Monday, December 27, 2021

[politics] New California Laws Look to a Better Future

The California state legislature has been busy with a wide range of new laws on voting access, police reform, housing, single-use plastics, sexual assault, and more. 

Universal Vote By Mail

All active registered voters in California will automatically be mailed ballots in all future elections, beginning in 2022, AB37 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park).

Police Reform

AB490 prohibits the use of restraints that risk suffocating a suspect. Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson)

AB48 bars police from firing rubber projectiles and tear gas at protesters if the situation is not life-threatening.  Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)

AB89 raises the minimum age to become a police officer to 21. Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) 

AB958, which allows departments to fire officers for joining a law-enforcement gang. Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson)

AB26 requires police officers to report when they see a colleague use excessive force. Officers who witness excessive force but don't intervene will face punishment. Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) 

SB16 makes public any records related to excessive force, unlawful searches and other misconduct. Sen. Nancy Skinner, (D-Berkeley) 

Criminal Justice 

SB81 by Skinner authorizes judges to give more weight to mitigating factors such as childhood trauma when considering sentencing enhancements.

Wiener's SB73 ends mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes that are nonviolent.

"Stealthing" Ban

"Stealthing," the nonconsensual removal of a condom during sex, is now considered a form of sexual battery, and victims can sue for civil redress.  Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens)

Spousal Rape 

California criminalized marital rape in 1979.  Another bill by Garcia makes spousal rape equally punishable, with mandatory prison time and sex offender registry for anyone convicted of spousal rape.


SB9 by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) streamlines the process for property owners to add second units, divide large lots or convert homes into duplexes.

Additionally, two new laws authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) make it easier to increase housing density in certain areas. SB10 eases the environmental review process for cities rezoning properties near public transit to allow for more density. SB487 eases restrictions that tie the square footage of a building to lot size, allowing for more units in apartments complexes.


Under AB 701, California is the first state to ban massive retailers (like Amazon) from firing warehouse workers over quotas that interfere with rest breaks. The measure also bars companies from disciplining workers for following health and safety laws and creates an avenue for employees to take legal action over unsafe quotas.

Health Care

SB221 requires insurance companies to reduce wait times for mental health and substance abuse treatment and to provide timely follow-up care.

Reducing Waste and Trash

AB1276, which bars restaurants and food delivery apps from handing out plastic utensils and condiments unless requested by a customer. Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) 

Gender-Neutral Toy Section

AB1084 requires major retailers to have a gender-neutral area in addition to aisles that segregate boy's toys from girl's toys.

To-Go Liquor

When restaurants shut down early in the pandemic, the laws governing alcohol sales were loosened, allowing them to sell to-go liquor. The move helped compensate for the loss of dine-in revenue and has been extended through 2026. Sen. Bill Dodd's (D-Napa) SB389.

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