Law review: New California laws taking effect January 2023

Jim Porter / Porter Simon
Jim Porter

In 2022 the California Legislature passed nearly 1,200 bills and nearly 1,000 became law signed by Governor Gavin. Here’s a sampling of some you may find of interest.

Minimum Wage:  The new statewide California minimum wage bumps to $15.50 per hour for all employers, a modest bump from the previous minimum.

Pink Tax”:  Under AB 1247, California businesses are no longer allowed to charge a higher price on products marketed for women. The bill prohibits two “substantially similar” products from the same company from being “priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whom the goods are marketed and intended.” It’s about time.

Bereavement Leave: Under AB 1949, California employers with five or more workers must allow employees up to five days of unpaid, job-protected leave upon the death of a close family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law. The employee must be employed for at least 30 days before the commencement of leave. No federal laws require bereavement leave.

Fast Food Unionizing: Fast food businesses have fought off efforts to unionize. AB 257 would set a bold precedent with a 10-member Fast Food Council to regulate wages, hours and working conditions applying to chains with at least 100 outlets nationwide. The Council would include worker delegates, industry representatives and state officials. However, fast food businesses and California Chamber have collected a million signatures for a 2024 referendum to overturn the measure, and further, have persuaded a judge to delay its implementation.

New Pot Laws: Beginning in January 2024, employers can no longer penalize most employees for off-work use of marijuana. The law’s exceptions include people working in the construction and building industry or positions that require federal background clearances. Employers still have the right to fire or suspend employees for using weed or being high at work. You still need a license to sell pot.

Hit-and-Run “Yellow Alert”: AB 1732 authorizes law enforcement agencies to request the CHP to activate a “Yellow Alert” when a fatal hit-and-run crash has occurred and specific criteria has been met to alert activation. The goal is to seek the public’s assistance to solve fatal hit-and-run crashes.

Jaywalking: Pedestrians can cross the street outside an intersection or crosswalk without being ticketed as long as it is safe to do so under AB 2147, also known as The Freedom to Walk Act. The argument for the bill is that jaywalking is arbitrarily enforced. Under the new law an officer can cite a pedestrian for jaywalking “only when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.” i.e. in New York City and similar environs.

Assault Weapon Bounties: As you recall, in 2021, Texas passed a law restricting abortions and dangled $10,000 per violation to anyone who sues someone who helps with an abortion. Neanderthals. Not to be outdone, Governor Gavin and the Legislature passed a new law that allows private citizens to collect $10,000 for citizens suing those who make or sell assault-style weapons. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely throw out the Texas law and California’s. That would be fine with Gavin and me.

Jim Porter is an attorney in the process of retiring from Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada. Porter Simon has offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno. These are Jim’s personal opinions. Jim’s practice areas included:  real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at

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