These New Laws Just Took Effect in California - The World News

These New Laws Just Took Effect in California

New year, new rules.

Hundreds of new laws took effect in California on Jan. 1, including many passed by legislators in the fall. And, as I wrote earlier this week, California’s statewide minimum wage was bumped up by 50 cents, to $16 an hour.

Here are some of the more noteworthy new state laws:

As of Monday, California employers can no longer hold off-the-clock cannabis use against most workers. Assembly Bill 2188 prohibits businesses from firing or otherwise penalizing employees for their marijuana use “off the job and away from the workplace.”

It is also now illegal for most employers in the state to discriminate against employees who test positive in drug screenings for “nonpsychoactive” traces of marijuana, which the measure says “do not indicate impairment, only that an individual has consumed cannabis in the last few weeks.”

The law’s protections do not apply to some categories of workers, including those who work in construction or for the federal government; they can still legally be disciplined for marijuana use off the job.

Another new law, Senate Bill 700, bars California employers from requesting information from job applicants about their cannabis use.

Under A.B. 1084, which was passed by the State Legislature in 2021, large retail stores that sell toys must now maintain a gender-neutral section for children. The state can fine noncompliant stores up to $250 for a first violation and $500 for each subsequent infraction.

California employers must now, under S.B. 616, provide each employee with at least five days, or 40 hours, of sick leave a year. The old minimum was three days. New York, Oregon and several other states already require employers to offer at least 40 hours of sick leave a year.

S.B. 644 requires that hotels, travel booking companies and short-term rental services like Airbnb allow reservations to be “canceled without penalty” within 24 hours of booking confirmation. The rule applies only to reservations made 72 hours or more before the scheduled check-in.

Under A.B. 701, people convicted of dealing or attempting to deal more than a kilogram of fentanyl can now be sentenced to more prison time than was previously allowed. More than 6,000 Californians died of fentanyl overdoses in 2022.

Today’s tip comes from Laura Davidson:

“I love to visit South Lake and drive the 395 along this splendid eastern part of our state all the way from Lancaster to Bishop. From the clouds to the land, it’s a marvelous drive.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What are you looking forward to in 2024? Milestone birthdays, traveling to new places, picking up a new hobby?

Tell us your hopes for the new year at [email protected]. Please include your full name and the city in which you live.

A group called Atheists United has for decades fostered a community for atheists in Los Angeles and greater Southern California, a congregation of sorts for those outside the boundaries of religious institutions.

Led by its executive director, Evan Clark, Atheists United has recently begun organizing hiking trips, called Atheist Adventures, to some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring state and national parks on the West Coast. The trips are designed for group members to talk about their beliefs and have a nonreligious spiritual experience in nature.

On a recent outing to Zion National Park in Utah, 20 members of the group were joined by the reporter Deborah Netburn of The Los Angeles Times, who chronicled the trip as well as the values and the core questions that animate the group and its members.

Referring to her 3-year-old son, Dani Hsia, a group member who attended the Zion outing, said: “I want him to feel all these things — to feel humble and awe and connection.”

“These kinds of events are important to me because they shape how I talk to him and help him understand how to be a good human,” she said.

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