Karen Telleen-Lawton: A Snippet on Some New 2023 Laws

January priorities include recovering from the holidays and implementing new resolutions. This month also marks the implementation of new laws both state and federal.

In 2022 the California Legislature passed nearly 1,200 bills. All but a couple hundred become law with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

Some legislation tweaks previous laws to balance unexpected side effects. Others sunset old laws or will be phased in the future years. But some could affect your daily life in ways you may find compelling, annoying, generous, expensive, just, or unnecessary.

Quite a few reflect belated efforts to include Native Americans, Black Americans, and immigrants of every race, religion and gender in the invitation to feel belonging in our society.

Curious among the new gender equity laws is the “pink tax” law. Stores can no long charge different prices for products based on gender. Now perhaps I’ll check out the deodorant in the women’s aisle in the pharmacy after using men’s deodorant for years.

More consequentially, Senate Bill 375 will give qualified nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives the ability to perform first-trimester abortions in California without the supervision of a physician. The new law is authored by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, who explains that it clarifies existing laws and allows for more trained nurse practitioners in high-need areas to perform surgical abortions.

The California Indian Education Act, AB-1703 establishes task forces intending to narrow the achievement gap and adopt new curriculum based on a fuller understanding of history.

The act encourages school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to work with local tribes to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Related to AB-1703, a new holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Friday of September is Native American Day. Its purpose is to honor those who have been a part of the American tradition even before our nation’s founding.

Three other new state holidays further recognize the broad diversity of Americans, their life experiences, and history.

Genocide Remembrance Day (April 24) will be “a day for all to reflect on past and present genocides, but especially those that have felt the impact of these atrocities and groups that have found refuge in California …” according to the governor’s office.

The new Juneteenth (June 19) holiday reflects on the ongoing cause of freedom for Black Americans. In is celebrated on June 19, the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver the federal proclamation that all slaves were free.

Lunar New Year will now be recognized as a holiday on the second or third new moon following the Winter Solstice. Sacramento State’s Dr. Chao Vang calls the holiday, “… an affirmation of the contribution that Asian Americans have had on California.”

Vang sees it as “a step in the right direction” given the rise in anti-Asian racism and discrimination during the pandemic.

Assembly Bill 2282 also addresses racism and hate crimes. This new law increases penalties for hate crimes when perpetrators use hateful symbols, such as swastikas, nooses, and desecrated crosses. Hate symbols are legally restricted in expanded locations including K-12 schools and colleges.

Last in the gallop of new laws that caught my eye are nods to those who attempt to spend part of their lives outside their cars.

For some years, California drivers have been required to maintain a slim three-foot safety cushion from bicycles. Now vehicles are required to move into another lane “with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, if practicable and not prohibited by law.”

Another new law allows pedestrians to jaywalk (cross a street at a non-designated area) unless “a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.”

May we all resolve to live safer, kinder lives in 2023.