6 more new California laws you should know

By Soumya Karlamangla

By Soumya Karlamangla

The New York Times

In what turned out to be a surprisingly busy legislative session, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 770 bills into law last year.

He legalized to-go cocktails, approved a high school ethnic studies requirement and gave the state the power to strip bad police officers of their badges.

But it wasn’t until Jan. 1 that many of these changes actually took effect.

On Monday, I explained six shifts in California law that officially began this month, and now I’m highlighting six more.

The end of single-family zoning

The classic California suburb is largely a product of something called single-family zoning, a regulation dictating that there can be only one house per parcel of land. These rules have led to the rows of tract homes, each with their own yard and fence.

But a new California law aimed at easing our housing crisis is essentially ending single-family zoning. As of Jan. 1, property owners can build up to three additional units on their land, allowing single-family homes to be transformed into as many as four units.

Accurately labeled olive oil

All containers of olive oil marketed as being from California must include on the label the percentage of the product derived from olives grown in the state. The new law is an effort to protect consumers from misleading advertising and to support local farmers.

No more mandatory minimums for drug crimes

This new law eliminates the mandatory prison and jail sentences for certain drug offenses and allows judges to order probation instead. The state had adopted mandatory minimums during the height of the war on drugs.

“If we are serious about ending the war on drugs, which has been a racist policy failure, then we must start by expanding alternatives to incarceration for those who commit nonviolent drug offenses,” Scott Wiener, a state senator from San Francisco, who proposed the change, told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s simple: Judges should not be forced to send someone to jail.”

Changing names on diplomas

Public colleges in California must now update diplomas and transcripts for transgender students who have changed their names or gender. California is believed to be the first state to ban colleges from “deadnaming,” or using the name that someone was assigned at birth but no longer identifies with.

Hourly wages for garment workers

California is now the first state to require that employers pay garment factory workers by the hour, instead of per piece of clothing. Piece-rate compensation often meant that workers were earning below minimum wage.

Streamlining end-of-life law

In 2016, California became one of a small number of states to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with a prescription from a doctor. The concept was controversial, and numerous safeguards were written into the law.

But now, given increased public acceptance, lawmakers are streamlining the process. Instead of requiring that the patient make two separate requests for the fatal medicines 15 days apart, the new law says the wait between requests must be only two days. It also eliminates the need for a written statement from the patient.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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