New California laws in 2023 include a fur ban, new state holidays

New California laws in 2023 include a fur ban, new state holidays
Photo by Jorge Maya / Unsplash

Numerous bills signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. They include a ban on new fur clothing, four new state holidays, and new guidance around ticketing jaywalking pedestrians on California's streets.

No more new furs

One of the oldest forms of clothing known to man may soon be a thing of the past in California.

Assembly Bill 44 outlaws the manufacturing and sale of all new fur products in the state. Mink coats, raccoon hats, and chinchilla scarves have drastically declined in popularity over the past few decades since being a status symbol in the 1970s when U.S. fur sales topped $600 million a year.

The anti-fur movement went into overdrive in the 1990s when PETA launched its "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign, featuring unclothed supermodels and musicians, including Tyra Banks, Pamela Anderson, and The Go-Go's, protesting the perceived animal cruelty.

Since then, fake fur, manufactured with plastics, has largely taken over the American market. After citywide bans were implemented in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, and West Hollywood, California now becomes the first in the country to implement a statewide ban. The law does not apply to used fur products.

New rules for renegade pedestrians

Crossing the street outside of designated crosswalks — a crime that most Californians have at some point likely committed — just became less risky.

The Freedom to Walk Act, which will be implemented in California on Jan. 1, doesn't technically legalize jaywalking, but it does state that police officers should not ticket rogue walkers unless the action creates an "immediate danger of a collision."

A previous iteration of the law was vetoed by Newsom in 2021 due to safety concerns.

Jaywalking was initially a crime lobbied for by the car industry, and is seen by some as a law that unfairly targets people based on race and economic status. The history of the law is more complicated than it may seem: Read our deep dive into its nuances.

Loitering

The controversial bill that bans arrests for “loitering with the intent of prostitution” faced significant criticism on both sides of the aisle in the state Senate before Newsom eventually signed it into law in July.

The Safer Streets for All Act, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, stops short of decriminalizing sex work but instead repeals loitering offenses that advocates say targeted LGBTQ people and people of color. Critics have argued that the law will make it harder for authorities to help prevent vulnerable people from being sex trafficked.

“To be clear, this bill does not legalize prostitution,” Newsom said after signing the bill. “It simply revokes provisions of the law that have led to disproportionate harassment of women and transgender adults. Black and Latino's women are particularly affected.”

California adds new state holidays

Californians have a number of new holidays on the calendar.

Assembly Bill 2956 officially made Lunar New Year a state holiday. Workers can use “eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensating time off in lieu of receiving eight hours of personal holiday credit” to celebrate the day. In 2023, the Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 22.

“Recognizing this day as a state holiday acknowledges the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement, “and provides an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the significance of the Lunar New Year.”

Workers can also choose to take off Genocide Remembrance Day​ (April 24), Juneteenth (June 19), or Native American Day (Sept. 22).

Police use of rape kits will change

After a high-profile scandal within the San Francisco Police Department, rules around rape kits are becoming more restrictive in California.

Individuals who report being sexually assaulted may give permission for a physical exam, often referred to as a “rape kit.” The examination may include taking biological samples from wounds, bodily fluids, or fingernail scrapings; from those samples, a DNA profile can potentially offer a match to the rapist. A DNA profile is also created for the victim.

In February, then-San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin alleged SFPD was using victims’ DNA from the kits to provide evidence against rape victims in other cases. Boudin claimed in at least one instance, DNA from a woman’s rape kit was used to identify her as a suspect in an unrelated property crime.

The new state law means evidence from rape kits can only be used to identify the perpetrator of the sexual assault; police departments can no longer retain the victim’s DNA.

“It’s already hard enough for sexual assault survivors to make the decision to come forward, report a crime, and undergo an invasive rape kit exam at the hospital,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “The last thing we need is to send a message to survivors that if they come forward, their DNA sample may be used against them in the future.”

California minimum wage is going up

In 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 3 into law, making California the first state in the nation to set a roadmap toward a $15 minimum wage. Back then, the minimum wage was $10, and the law mandated small increases each year until California hit $15 per hour in 2022.

The state hit that benchmark last year, so effective Jan. 1, 2023, the California minimum wage will be $15.50 per hour. Many Bay Area counties already have higher minimum wages, however, including San Francisco at nearly $17 per hour.

Employers must disclose salary ranges

No more dancing around compensation questions during job interviews: California now requires most employers to disclose pay scales upfront.

The new law requires all workplaces with 15 or more employees to include a salary range in job postings. That means postings on LinkedIn and other job boards will include the approximate salary for each listing. In addition, employers with 100 or more workers must submit certain data to the state, including salaries of employees and contractors broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity.

Restricting the use of song lyrics in court

One of California’s most surprising new laws regulates how musical lyrics, particularly from rap songs, can be used in criminal court.

The law requires judges to evaluate creative works submitted by the prosecution into evidence, including song lyrics, movies, and literature. Its passage came in the aftermath of Atlanta rapper Young Thug having his song lyrics cited by prosecutors in his racketeering indictment. The rapper’s lawyers argued his creative persona was not proof of criminality.

California judges must now decide whether creative material is relevant to the criminal charges, or if it would “explicitly or implicitly inject racial bias into the proceedings.” If prosecutors cannot prove the material is more than just artistic expression, it cannot be used as evidence.

“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” Newsom said in a statement. “California’s culture and entertainment industry set trends around the world and it’s fitting that our state is taking a nation-leading role to protect creative expression and ensure that artists are not criminalized under biased policies.”

Story by Andrew Chamings, Katie Dowd


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This article originally appeared in New California laws in 2023 include a fur ban, new state holidays

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