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New Laws Coming to California

By Harrison Threlfall

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Photo by Torida W Nrector

Flavored Tobacco Ban

There was a law that was voted on recently to ban flavored tobacco products. This would specifically target a lot flavored vapor products that have recently become widely available. Many people make the argument that these flavored products are targeting children with their appealing flavors so this would hopefully solve the issue of many minors using flavored vapor products. This law was set to take effect at the start of this year but due to more legal hurdles the ban will likely not take effect until after the 2022 general election. 

Changes to Minimum Wage

Employers with more than 25 workers are required to pay employees a minimum wage of 14 dollars an hour, this is a 1 dollar increase from last year. Employers with 25 workers or less are required to pay their employees a minimum wage of 13 dollars an hour, which is also a 1 dollar increase from last year. In 2016 these incremental wage increases were set in motion by Gov. Brown and the minimum wage will stop increasing when it reaches 15 dollars an hour in 2022. 

Improvement Upon Family Leave Benefits 

This year a new law went into effect that ensures that Californians who work for an employer with at least 5 employees would receive job protection benefits. Before this law was passed 40 percent of California was at risk of losing their jobs while taking leave because their employer was too small. This law also makes it possible for workers affected by COVID to take time off to handle COVID.

Inmate Firefighters Gain Opportunities

In California, inmates are often relied upon to help fight fires and they are often not paid very much and not even able to become official firefighters when they get out of prison. This law allows nonviolent incarcerated people to petition to get their records expunged and use their training and experience to become employed as firefighters, which they were previously not able to do because of their criminal records.

The California Racial Justice Act

This justice reform allows defendants in California to challenge a conviction if they demonstrate that there was racial bias present in the case. This act takes effect on all judgements as of January 1st and challenges can be made if there is evidence that people of a certain race are disproportionately charged of certain crimes or singled out to receive longer sentences. If racially coded language is used or if a lawyer, judge, or juror displays intentional discrimination this will also allow defendants to challenge the case.

Transgender Protections

New protections will make it so incarcerated people who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex to be put in jail or prison according to their gender identity and not their biological sex. This way transgender people will be housed where they feel safest, as there have been problems with transgender women facing high levels of assault and harrassment in mens facilities. State corrections officers and prison workers are now required to use people's preferred pronouns. Peoples preferred pronouns can be an important part of people's identities so laws requiring people to respect these pronouns is a good step forward for transgender people.

Workplace Covid-19 Laws

Employers now must take the action of writing out a note to employees within one business day of a potential exposure to Covid-19. Employers must be quick to report outbreaks for the safety of their employees and to help flatten the curve.

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