Law Review: A sample of California’s new laws


The California legislature, especially the Democrats, have been busy. Governor Gavin signed 770 new bills into law, most effective Jan. 1. Here’s a starter sample:

To-Go Drinks

Senate Bill 389 allows restaurants and some bars to sell to-go wine and cocktails until 2027, a 5-year extension on an emergency rule adopted early in the pandemic to help bars and restaurants. Booze sold for off-premises consumption must be sold with food – marked in sealed, labeled containers and picked-up by a customer who provides age identification. Two to-go alcoholic beverages per individual meal. I hope this is the beginning of a wholesale re-write of California’s ABC laws, which are archaic at best. As a footnote, my Grandfather was a 20-year member of the State Board of Equalization. He led the successful move to divide the State Board of Equalization and ABC into two separate agencies.

California Minimum Wage

California’s minimum wage will hit $14 on Jan. 1 for employers with 25 employees or less, and increase to $15 for those with 26 or more employees. $15 an hour won’t get you much in our Sierra region.

Vote by Mail

Starting in 2022, California will require election officials to mail ballots to all registered voters for all elections and will allow any registered voter to vote by mail in any election. This per Assembly Bill 27, which also sets minimum standards for ballot drop-off boxes. To be contrasted with the great state of Texas, where Republicans recently legislated lots of drop boxes in Republican districts but a scant few in Democrat districts. Using a mail-in ballot is not mandatory in California but one must be mailed to every voter.

Food Delivery Apps

AB-286 makes it illegal for food delivery apps to retain any portion of a tip or gratuity, thus ensuring tips go directly to the driver. If the order is for pickup, the gratuity goes to the restaurant.

‘Bacon and Eggs’ Law

Back in pre-pandemic 2018 when life was good, California voters passed laws requiring minimum square footages for egg-laying hens and breeding pigs. The first deadline of that law became effective January 2020, requiring that egg-laying hens be housed with a minimum of 144 square inches per hen. Calves intended to be sold as veal must be housed with a minimum of 43 sq. ft. per calf. Maybe my lovely wife Marianne will allow me to order veal now. Probably not. As of Jan. 1, egg-laying hens must be cage-free, and breeding pigs must be allocated 24 sq. ft. per pig. The law applies to out-of-state producers delivering to California, some of whom have sued challenging the law. Most analysts predict a steep price increase for bacon and other pig products.

Police Reform

AB-89 requires all community colleges in California to raise the minimum age for new officers from 18 to 21. Four years from now, all incoming officers must have at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Supposedly, and surprising to me, currently only about 40% of California’s police force have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Under SB-2, police officers fired for serious misconduct such as sexual assault, perjury, and wrongfully killing civilians, may not find employment in the same profession in other jurisdictions.

Equestrian Safety

Under AB-974, anyone under 18 riding a horse on a paved highway is required to wear a helmet, and anyone riding at night is required to have either reflective equipment or a light on their body or the animal.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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