New laws on the books in California in 2021 address everything from COVID-19 guidelines, to racial profiling and systemic racism to a minimum wage hike, price gouging, property taxes, domestic abuse and fire protection.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed only 372 new laws in pandemic-plagued 2020, the fewest since 1967.
Here are a few of those laws and what they do:
* California’s minimum wage rose to $14 an hour for large companies, with pay rising to $13 in workplaces with 25 or fewer employees.
* Beginning in April, hospitals must maintain at least a three-month stockpile of personal protective equipment for their workers or face a fine of up to $25,000 per violation.
* Youth football leagues cannot hold more than two practices a week, each lasting no longer than half an hour. An emergency medical official must be present at games, and someone to evaluate injuries must attend practices.
* The retail sale of all dogs, cats and rabbits is no longer allowed. Shelter or rescue groups can offer pets for adoption in pet stores, as long as the store isn’t paid to display the animals.
* Employers must provide written notice within 24 hours to workers who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and could face fines for violations. A second law has expanded workers’ compensation help for those who might have contracted the virus on the job.
* Skilled nursing facilities must report COVID-19 deaths to public health authorities within 24 hours.
* California laws against price gouging now cover sellers who only begin selling a product after an emergency is declared. The law was inspired by those during the pandemic who bought supplies in bulk and then sold them for much higher amounts.
* Private insurance companies must now fully cover all medically necessary mental health and substance abuse disorder treatments under the same terms as other medical conditions.
* Foreclosed homes can’t be bundled together for sale to a single buyer, as many were during the Great Recession, and tenant or other housing advocacy groups have 45 days to offer a higher price.
* California homeowners who are 55 or older can get a property tax break when moving to a new home under a voter-approved law that blends the taxable value of the old home with that of the new, more expensive home.
*A California law that allows a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault to get out of a housing lease early now includes family members of murder victims and other violent crimes.
* Homeowners in high fire hazard areas must create a five-foot “ember resistant zone” surrounding their home and outdoor decks, with guidelines from state officials phased in over the next two years.
* Manufacturers of cleaning products sold in the state, including air deodorizers, polishers and floor cleaners, must list all ingredients on labels.
* California’s juvenile justice correction centers will stop taking new inmates on July 1 as the state begins to transition responsibility for young offenders to individual counties.
* A sentence of probation for most misdemeanors will be limited to a maximum of one year, and probation for a felony will be limited to two years.
* Police officers can no longer use chokeholds or any restraint that compresses a person’s carotid arteries.
* California’s attorney general must investigate when an officer-involved shooting results in the death of an unarmed person.
* Former prisoners who worked as firefighters through a prison fire camp can petition to have their records expunged and parole waived.
* Independent contractors who work for app-based companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are now eligible for a limited number of healthcare and other workplace benefits, including a guaranteed wage for time spent behind the wheel.
* California becomes the first state in the nation to impose regulations on student loan servicers similar to those for credit cards or mortgages. The law requires companies to inform borrowers about programs that can lower monthly payments or offer debt forgiveness, and it allows consumer lawsuits against companies that don’t comply.
* Publicly held corporations — those with shares bought and sold on a stock exchange — that are primarily based in California must have at least one person on their board of directors who represents an underrepresented community, an effort to increase diversity in corporate leadership ranks.
Students who enroll at a California State University campus in the fall will be required to take an ethnic studies course to graduate. The law identifies “Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latina and Latino Americans” as four recognized groups on which the courses may focus.
* App-based food delivery services must obtain permission from a restaurant before delivering its food. Those companies must also ensure safety seals on food items aren’t broken and temperature controls are used during delivery.
* Assembly Bill 1185 allows county supervisors to create a sheriff oversight board and, either by supervisors or a county vote, an office of the inspector general to assist with duties as it relates to the sheriff. The bill also allows the chair of the oversight board and the inspector general to issue subpoena powers when deemed necessary to investigate a matter within their jurisdiction.