Opinion: New California laws in 2022

Recently, I heard a candidate for office criticize the incumbent for not having proposed a single law during that person’s term of office. Without knowing anything about either the incumbent or the challenger, my immediate reaction was to vote for the incumbent.


The fact is that I heard the comment on my TV set while I was typing something else with my keyboard. So, I don’t know if the contenders for public office were in my district, or even in the state of California. My “gut reaction” was that we already have more laws than are practicable.


Out of curiosity, I tried to find out how many laws exist in our state. I was unable to find an actual count, although I did find out that there is a finite number of classes or categories of law. I’d be surprised if anyone knows the total number of laws within those categories. Yet every year in California, some legislator somewhere manages to find something that can be codified.


Writing for NBC, toward the end of 2021, Heather Navarro stated that “hundreds of new laws are going into effect in 2022, from requiring ethnic studies in order to graduate, to cracking down on illegal street racing, (to) allowing restaurants to continue selling to-go cocktails, to name a few.” KTLA claims that 770 new laws were signed by the Governor in 2021. Here are a few of the ones that I found.


Proposition 12: ‘Bacon’ Law


California voters passed Proposition 12 in 2018. It was supposedly the nation’s strongest law to improve the living conditions for farm animals. At the time, sows (female breeding pigs) were confined in “gestation crates” that were so restrictive that they couldn’t turn around, and egg-laying hens were crammed into “battery cages” that were so small that they couldn’t spread their wings.


For years, Prop. 12 — in whole or in part — had been challenged in court because it not only affects meat producers in California, but anyone who supplies certain meat products to the state. Veal, a separate section of Prop. 12, went into effect in 2020. Now, the former practices affecting pigs and hens are against the law in the Golden State. Farmers, ranchers, and processors predict that the price of eggs and meat will increase.


AB 367: Free Menstrual Products


Authored by Cristina Garcia (D, Bell Gardens), Assembly Bill 367 enacts a law that requires all public schools that offer any combination of classes from grades 6 through 12 to stock an adequate supply of menstrual products, free of cost, in all women’s restrooms, all-gender restrooms, and at least one men’s restroom at all times.


It also requires the California State University and the Community College system to have the products freely available at one central location. The University of California and private colleges and universities are encouraged to adopt similar policies and practices. Schools, colleges, and universities will be reimbursed by the state (i.e., you and me).


AB 1084: Gender Neutral Toys


This bill, authored by Evan Low (D, San Jose) and Cristina Garcia (D, Bell Gardens) requires large retail department stores to maintain a gender-neutral toy section, regardless of whether the toys have been traditionally marketed for either girls or boys.


Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D, San Diego) said that she hoped this bill would be just the first step toward gender neutralization. “Let’s get rid of (gendered) labels (in clothes) while we’re at it,” she commented. Low responded that he would like to make the bill more inclusive, but he was trying to be less “prescriptive” and allowing retailers to make some of these decisions.


AB 3: Street Racing and Sideshows


A “sideshow” occurs when two or more persons block or impede traffic on a highway for the purpose of performing motor vehicle stunts, speed contests, or other forms of reckless driving. Assembly Bill 3 was authored by Vince Fong (R, Bakersfield) to put an end to these practices.


According to Fong, the California Highway Patrol responded to more than 25,000 illegal street racing or sideshow events in 2020, an increase from 3,500 in 2019. He told the Bakersfield Californian, “Illegal sideshows are devastating families. They are claiming innocent lives in communities throughout the state of California. They are creating serious risk for our youth.”


SB 389: Cocktails To-Go


The practice of buying alcoholic drinks-to-go from restaurants went into effect during the pandemic, and both the Senate and the Assembly suspended existing laws. This new law, authored by Bill Dodd (D, Napa) makes the practice permanent. He said, “If allowing restaurants to sell carry-out cocktails helps keep their doors open, we must do it. This is about preserving jobs and getting our economy back on track.”


SB 395: Feast on Roadkill


Senate Bill 395, called the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, was authored by Bob Archeleta (D, Pico Rivera), and signed into law by Governor Newsom although it has virtually nothing to do with “traffic safety.” It authorizes the use of a “cell-phone-friendly, web-based portal,” in other words an “app,” to obtain a permit for someone who “unintentionally strikes and kills a deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pig on a roadway” to remove the animal and consume it. The app is also available to someone who simply finds such an animal on a California roadway.


California, for a change, is not the first state to enact this type of law. It follows a recent lead by Illinois and joins about 22 other states in the practice of feasting on roadkill.


AB 44: Fur Ban Bill


Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D, Glendale) wants California to lead the nation in statewide fur bans. She said, “Today there are (sic) a variety of humane alternatives, both in terms of faux fur that is virtually indistinguishable from real fur, and alternative textiles that are just as warm or fashionable.”


The legislative session of 2021 was not unusual. So, if it passed 770 bills that became law, and California has been a state for more than 170 years, well…


You do the math.


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Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.