Home Community and Culture Here is a beginner’s guide to this year’s new laws

Here is a beginner’s guide to this year’s new laws

Lady Justice.

January 1 not only signaled a new year, but the green lighting of new laws. From COVID-19 regulations to football precautions, new legislation went into effect across the country. So what does that mean to you? You might have everything squared away with your insurance company, but did you know contacting emergency operators is more accessible now in California? Read on to see what other new laws could have an impact on you! 



  • Skilled nursing facilities are required to report COVID-19 deaths within 24 hours to public health authorities. Same goes for similar emergencies in the future. 
  • Written notice of COVID-19 exposure within 24 hours is required of employers, or face fines. 
  • Expanded workers’ compensation for contracting COVID-19 at work.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity must be included in COVID-19 (and other communicable diseases) data collection by healthcare providers if known. 
  • Coverage by private insurance companies must extend to mental health and substance abuse disorder treatments.

Criminal Justice System

  • Probation sentences will be limited for most misdemeanors to one year and for a felony to two years. 
  • Voting rights restored to people on parole with former felony convictions 
  • Opportunity for formerly incarcerated people who worked as firefighters to petition to have records expunged and parole waived.
  • Pregnant or possibly pregnant women must have access to pregnancy services. 
  • People in California’s prisons must be classified by their gender identity.  
  • New misdemeanor: taking photos of dead people outside of investigation purposes by an emergency responder. 
  • Chokeholds or any restraint against the carotid arteries by police is banned. 
  • When an officer kills an unarmed person, the California attorney general will investigate.
  • No longer required: Proving “intentional discrimination” in challenging charges or convictions based on race or ethnicity 
  • New fine: Making a 911 call to threaten or harass someone based on their identity 

Work and Life

  • State minimum wage increase: $14 per hour for large companies, $13 per hour workplaces with 25 employees or less
  • Small businesses must provide unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical needs for up to 12 weeks. 
  • Publicly held corporations are required to have at least one person from an underrepresented community on their board of directors.
  • California State University students must take an ethnic studies course to graduate.
  • Student loan servicers must provide information to borrowers about how to lower monthly payments or find programs that can offer debt forgiveness. 
  • Emergency call centers to accept text messages to 911, not just phone calls.
  • Retailing dogs, cats and rabbits is prohibited, though shelters can offer pet adoption in pet stores. 
  • Youth football leagues are limited to two full-contact practices each week, which can last up to 30 minutes each. All games must have an emergency medical official in attendance. Practices require someone to evaluate injuries. 

To see a full list of new laws in California, head to the state Legislature website here.

New laws across the United States

  • Connecticut
    • Uniformed officers must prominently place badges.
    • State officers must do a mental health screening every five years.
    • Employers must fund a new paid family and medical leave program by taking minor deductions from paychecks.
  • Colorado
    • Employers must announce promotion openings and post salary ranges for each job opening. They cannot ask interviewees about salary history.
    • Landlords cannot ask immigration status or deny someone based on their income source.
    • Wage determination on basis of sex is prohibited.
  • Oregon
    • Portland- Private businesses cannot use facial recognition technology. 
    • Decriminalization of small amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
  • Virginia banned driving while holding a cell phone. 
  • Delaware banned plastic bags.
  • Recreational marijuana legalized in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota.
  • Must be 21 to buy tobacco in New Mexico and Tennessee.
  • Opioid distribution must be disclosed to Department of Health and Environmental Control for Inclusion in South Carolina. 
  • By August, 23 states (in addition to California) will raise their minimum wage.
  • 12-week-paid family medical leave in Massachusetts. 
  • Monthly copayments for insulin capped at $30 in Utah. $100 for Washington residents until 2023. 
  • Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma. 
  • Insurance companies must pay for out-of-network provider.
  • New Hampshire: Colleges and universities must adopt sexual misconduct policies. Sexual assault definition also includes sexual contact between school employees and students aged 13-18. 

Other sources: Los Angeles Times, ABC, U.S. News, CBS.

Haley Bosselmanhttps://haleybosselman.wordpress.com/
Haley Bosselman is the former editor-in-chief of Culturas. She holds degrees in journalism from Arizona State University and the University of Southern California. Based in Los Angeles, she writes about arts, entertainment and culture.
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