These New California Laws Are Taking Effect in 2023

In Los Angeles, members of PETA held a rally along Hollywood Boulevard in 2018.Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A new year doesn’t always usher in sweeping change, but in California, at least, it usually means a slate of new laws going into effect.

As of this month, jaywalking is no longer a crime in the Golden State. Rap lyrics and other artistic work can’t be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. Lunar New Year is now a state holiday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed hundreds of bills into law last year, and a large share of them are being implemented in 2023. Today I’ll walk you through five important changes that took effect on Jan. 1:

Employers must disclose salary ranges.

Companies with 15 or more employees are now required to list salary ranges for all job postings under a new law aimed at reducing systemic pay inequities. The rule brings California in line with Washington, Colorado and Connecticut, which have passed similar wage transparency laws, The Los Angeles Times reports.

No more new furs.

In 2019, California became the first state to ban fur when Newsom signed a law prohibiting the sale of new clothing and accessories made of fur. That law, which followed similar provisions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley, finally took effect this month.

New oil wells are barred from neighborhoods.

Long championed by environmentalists, this law prohibits new oil wells from being located within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, health care facilities or any building open to the public. Newsom signed the legislation in September, part of a wave of climate bills approved by the California Legislature.

But one caveat: Oil and gas companies said last month that they had collected enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue. If the referendum petition qualifies, the new law would immediately be suspended until voters have their say on it next year.

The state will pay for prisoners’ phone calls.

People who are incarcerated in California can now make free phone calls, under a new law that places the cost of the calls on the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Advocates of the change say that high phone fees unfairly limit communication between prisoners and their loved ones, and that families of inmates in California were paying $68.2 million a year in phone costs.

San Diego County has already eliminated charges for jail phone calls, and Los Angeles County is preparing to do so, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. New York City made calls from its jails free in 2018, and the California law will be the second statewide measure, following a Connecticut statute that took effect last year.

The minimum wage is higher.

An increase in the state’s minimum wage this month did not happen because of a new state law, but because of a law already on the books that ties the wage rate to inflation. The minimum wage in California is now $15.50, up from $15 for large employers and $14 for smaller ones last year.

Morning traffic passing through Compton on the I-710 in Los Angeles.Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

If you read one story, make it this

Widening highways doesn’t fix traffic. So why do we keep doing it?

More on California

  • Storms and Flooding: A barrage of powerful storms has surprised residents across Central and Northern California with an unrelenting period of extreme weather stretching over weeks.
  • Facebook’s Bridge to Nowhere: The tech giant planned to restore a century-old railroad to help people in the Bay Area to get to work. Then it gave up.
  • U.C. Employee Strike: Academic employees at the University of California voted to return to work, ending a historically large strike that had disrupted research and classes for nearly six weeks.
  • Wildfires: California avoided a third year of catastrophic wildfires because of a combination of well-timed precipitation and favorable wind conditions — or “luck,” as experts put it.

Homes in Santa Cruz County were damaged by flooding and wind last week by one of the powerful storms that have struck California.Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The rest of the news

  • Montecito evacuations: Residents of the community near Santa Barbara were ordered to evacuate because of flooding and mudslides, five years to the day after a 2018 storm sent a deadly torrent of mud and boulders rushing through Montecito.

  • Golden Globe Awards: The awards ceremony is back on the air Tuesday. Last year’s ceremony was not televised, at a time when a scandal was growing around the organizers’ finances, ethics and diversity. Here’s how to watch.

  • Disney: Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, has ordered employees to return to the office four days a week — Monday through Thursday — starting March 1.


  • Natural gas prices: Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric have issued stark warnings to customers that their January natural gas bills could double, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Assault: A suspect fled the Fresno City College campus after an assault on the first day of the spring semester, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • Flooding: Another powerful winter storm unleashed heavy rain in Northern California, causing widespread flooding in Santa Cruz County and beyond, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Credit…Mark Karlstrom

What you get

For $1.5 million: A midcentury-style retreat in Palm Springs, a townhouse in Westlake Village and a 1947 ranch house in Altadena.

Kay Chun’s chicken Parmesan meatballs.Credit…Christopher Simpson for The New York Times.

What we’re eating

Cheesy chicken Parmesan meatballs.

The Minarets, near Mammoth LakesCredit…George Rose/Getty Images

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Stephen Cunha, who lives in Mammoth Lakes:

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.

Tell us

How are the storms affecting you? Email us at [email protected] with your stories and photos.

Credit…Debora Szpilman

And before you go, some good news

Suzanne Joskow and Henderson Blumer were celebrating New Year’s Eve together in their Los Angeles home in 2020 when just before midnight, he asked her to break open a star-shaped piñata that he had hung onto the stone pine tree in their backyard.

“It was sparkling perfectly, it was very romantic-looking,” she said.

Joskow, 39, whacked the piñata, and out flew a black pouch with a ring in it. Blumer, 33, picked it up and got down on one knee. After she said “yes,” fireworks went off around the city.

Blumer’s proposal made The Times’s ranking of the 10 best wedding proposals featured in the newspaper in 2022. Read the rest here.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Briana Scalia and Jaevon Williams contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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