Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a whopping 770 new laws in 2021, according to Cal Matters. Some of those laws have a buffer window written into them before they take effect – like mandating mental health instruction in schools or requiring gender-neutral toy sections in stores – but most of them kick in on the first day of the next year.
That means lots of new rules (or altered rules) are coming to California on Jan. 1, 2022.
We’re not going to get into the minutiae of all 770 bills signed into law during the last legislative cycle (sorry, but also you’re welcome), but we are breaking down some of the highlights. Here are some of the most important and most bizarre laws taking effect in 2022.
Slower speed limits
A law that takes effect on Jan. 1 gives California cities more local control over how speed limits are set instead of using an old rule that essentially caused speed limits to go up every few years. Cities can start working toward lowering speed limits in 2022, but can’t enforce them until June 30, 2024, or whenever the state creates an online portal to adjudicate the new infractions – whichever comes sooner.
Sleep in, kids
Middle schools and high schools will soon be required to start class no earlier than 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., respectively. Supporters say preteens and teenagers need the extra sleep for their health and development. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2022, so for most students it will impact them in the 2022-23 school year. The law exempts rural school districts.
Compost – or else
Starting in 2022, all California residents and businesses will be required to sort their organic waste from the rest thanks to Senate Bill 1383. The program will take effect in phases depending on where you live. If it takes you some time to get used to it, don’t stress – fines won’t start being issued until 2024.
Mandatory menstrual products in school
Starting in the 2022-23 school year, public schools will be required to stock restrooms with free pads or tampons. The law affects public schools with grades 6 through 12, community colleges, and public universities.
Minimum wage bump
Businesses with 26 or more employees will be required to pay a $15 minimum wage starting in 2022. That’s more than double the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. California businesses with fewer than 26 employees will have to raise their lowest wage to $15 starting the year after.
Some California cities already have higher minimum wages in effect.
New rules for bacon making
An animal welfare law passed by voters in 2018 takes effect this year. It requires that breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves have enough room to stand and turn around. But many in the pork industry haven’t made the necessary changes and there’s a coalition of restaurants and grocers suing, hoping for a two-year delay.
Vote by mail is here to stay
An executive order in 2020 sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter in California as a safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic and presidential election. Assembly Bill 37 makes that change permanent and expands it to include local elections. People can still vote in person if they choose.
Seizing ghost guns
A new law will make it possible for concerned family members, teachers, coworkers and employers to ask a judge to seize ghost guns from someone they think could be a danger to themselves or others. Ghost guns are guns that are purchased in parts and assembled at home, making them hard to track. The law takes effect on July 1, 2022.
Trimmed training for barbers
Senate Bill 803 cuts down how much training is required of barbers and cosmetologists to 1,000 hours. Previously, 1,600 was required for cosmetologists and 1,500 was required for barbers. Advocates say it’ll cut down on debt and let trainees in the industry get to work faster.
Pour another round for to-go cocktails
Senate Bill 389 extends pandemic-era rules allowing the sale of takeout alcoholic drinks through 2026. It also makes it possible to keep ordering cocktails, beer and wine in outdoor dining parklets for the next five years.
Removing “alien” from the books
Assembly Bill 1096 strikes the word “alien” from the California state code. The word will be replaced with words like “noncitizen” or “immigrant.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said the word alien has “fueled a divisive and hurtful narrative” and this change will allow state laws to better reflect state values.
Ask if you need a fork
Restaurants will soon be prohibited from handing out single-use silverware or condiments without a customer requesting them. That means you’ll need to ask for chopsticks for your takeout sushi or a ketchup packet for your fries if you don’t have those things at home. Restaurants also won’t be able to package plastic silverware in a way that makes it hard for you to just take what you need.
A similar law, also aimed at reducing waste, is already in effect for single-use plastic straws. Cities and counties will start enforcing this new law on June 1, 2022.
Assisted death changes
Starting Jan. 1, terminally ill patients won’t have to wait as long to request fatal drugs. The waiting period between the two required requests will drop from 15 days to 48 hours.
Dog blood donations
A new law changes the way canine blood donations work in California. Prior to 2022, all blood used by veterinarians to treat ailing dogs comes from two companies that raise dogs in cages solely to collect their blood, reports the Los Angeles Times. The new law allows for the establishment of more canine blood banks that can collect donations from dogs, much like people donate blood to blood banks.
“Stealthing” is sexual assault
Assembly Bill 453 makes the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex, also called “stealthing,” a form of sexual battery. California is the first state to ban stealthing.
Senate Bill 9 makes it easier to split a property into a duplex by removing some of the layers of bureaucracy and review. Advocates say it could help with the state’s housing crisis by making it easier to add more units of housing. The details of the law are complicated, but you can read all the clauses here.
More housing near transit
Another law, Senate Bill 10, aims to make it easier to build housing in California. Among other things, this law makes it easier for cities to upzone transit-dense areas, allowing for the development of more dense house of up to 10 units per parcel without a lengthy environmental review process.
Rubber bullets and tear gas
Assembly Bill 48 prohibits police from using rubber bullets or tear gas to disperse crowds at a protest. They also can’t be used against someone just because they’ve violated “an imposed curfew, verbal threat, or noncompliance with a law enforcement directive.”
More women execs
A law passed in 2018 required corporations to add more women to their boards of executives. The final deadline to meet requirements passes Dec. 31, 2021, meaning that by the start of 2022, companies with five directors need at least two of them to be women, and companies with six or more directors need at least three of them to be women.
Feast on roadkill, Californians
Starting Jan. 1, the state is launching a pilot program that will allow people to collect and eat roadkill. The law allows for humans to collect and eat “deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pig” that have been hit and killed by a vehicle. You’ll have to report the find and secure a permit before digging in, but the state is required to create an online and mobile-friendly way to do that.