These new California laws go into effect today

A slew of new laws go into effect on Monday covering a wide range of issues from hidden fees to menstrual products, from security deposits to gun taxes. 

Here's a roundup of what Californians need to know to avoid punishment and penalties. 

Hidden fees – Senate Bill 478

The law requires that advertised or displayed prices for most goods and services include all fees and charges (excluding government taxes and fees). This specifically targets short-term lodging like Airbnb.

The new law aims to prohibit "junk fees" across a range of businesses, including restaurants, bars and delivery apps.

Restaurants will need to factor surcharge fees into menu prices, as opposed to simply advertising them at the end of a bill. Food apps, however, will be required to function differently under the new law.

Security deposits cap – Assembly Bill 12 

Renters in California will no longer be asked for a security deposit larger than one month's rent. 

Previously, state law allowed landlords to ask renters for security deposits equivalent to two months’ rent for unfurnished units, or three months’ rent for furnished units. 

That doesn’t include the first month of rent.

Drug testing kits in bars – Assembly Bill 1013

AB 1013 requires establishments that sell alcohol to be consumed on-site to provide drug testing kits that can detect the presence of so-called "roofies," substances that are used to spike a drink, often with the intent to facilitate a sexual assault. 

The kits must be able to detect at least one controlled substance, like GHB, ketamine, or flunitrazepam, typically used to spike drinks.

The law will apply to establishments with a Type 48 license, those that do not serve food. And it would require the drug testing kits be available at a reasonable cost or for free.

"AB 1013 is a critical first step toward addressing and raising awareness around the under-reported epidemic of drink spiking," bill author Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said in a statement. 

And he said there is still much work that needs to be done to address the problem, promising further legislation to stop what he called a "drink spiking crisis."

Lowenthal, who’s also a bar and restaurant owner, said that it can be difficult to catch perpetrators in the act, and once someone has been drugged, it is often too late to prevent the person from becoming a victim of rape or other crime.

The law also requires the bars and nightclubs to post a warning sign about the dangers of possible drink spiking and a notice of the testing kits’ availability.

The new law is expected to affect roughly 2,400 licensees across California, according to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

According to Lowenthal's office, local jurisdictions have established similar programs or requirements, but California is believed to be the first state in the country to enact the drug testing kit law. 

Pulling over drivers based on vehicle registration – Assembly Bill 256 

Until Monday, a driver had to have a current registration sticker displayed on a vehicle's rear license plate. 

But the Department of Motor Vehicles no longer allows this vehicle registration violation to be the sole reason a law enforcement officer can pull over a driver. The new law prohibits officers from pulling drivers over solely for expired license plate stickers unless two months have passed since the month indicated on the sticker.

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach), aims to delay fees incurred due to the enforcement of expired tag violations.

Other lawmakers who supported the bill said it would help limit an officer's ability to make stops that are used as an investigative tool for something unrelated to the actual reason for which a driver was pulled over.

Late registration fees from the DMV following the second month after the tag's expiration will still apply.

Menstrual products at schools – Assembly Bill 230

AB 230 expands an existing law that requires public schools with sixth grade to twelfth grade students to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms. Under the change, schools that instruct third grade to fifth grade will also be required to provide these hygienic products.

The bill’s author said the measure was important to extend these free menstrual products to additional grades, pointing to research that indicates 10% of children who experience a period do so for the first time by the age of 10.

Building housing – Senate Bill 684

Senate Bill 684 specifically aims to speed up the process to build new units by making one aspect of it more efficient: the approval of subdivision maps.

Under the law, local agencies would be required to approve maps for projects in urban areas so long as they meet certain requirements, like the project not exceeding more than 10 housing units. Proponents say the law will facilitate more medium-density housing in small lot divisions.

Keep students in school – Senate Bill 274

This bill eliminates the use of suspension for minor misbehavior covered under the "disruption or willful defiance" category for California TK-12 students. The bill was amended to include a 2029 sunset for this elimination for grades 6-12, to allow the state to re-evaluate after data has shown the impact of the change.

Under SB 274, teachers would be able to remove a student from a specific class for unruly behavior, but the student would not be suspended from school. Instead, it would be up to school administrators to determine appropriate and timely in-school interventions or support for the student.

Certified School employees – Assembly Bill 897 

AB 897 897 extends the two-year probationary period for educators in California to those who teach adults. Typically, "general education teachers" must undergo this period before gaining permanent status.

The bill’s author said this will help improve the quality of education for adults, as well as give these educators a pathway towards greater job security and ensure that experienced educators are not dismissed unfairly.

In-custody jail deaths – Senate Bill 519 

The California Public Records Act generally requires public records to be open for inspection by the public. But existing law provides numerous exceptions to this requirement. 

One of the provisions of SB 519 is that sheriff's investigations of in-custody deaths are available to the public with a CPRA request.

Workplace violence prevention plan – Senate Bill 553

This bill requires employers to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan in accordance with newly codified Labor Code section 6401.9, which sets out the requirements for the plan.

Under this law, the majority of employers in California must establish, implement, and maintain a "Workplace Violence Prevention Plan" that includes: prohibiting employee retaliation, accepting and responding to reports of workplace violence, and emergency response.

Gun tax Assembly  – Bill 28 

This law adds a 11% state tax on firearms and ammo sold in the state starting in July 2024 — making California the only state in the U.S. to have such a tax. This tax is on top of existing federal taxes. Depending on the gun type, the federal tax is either 10% or 11%. Revenue from the tax, estimated by state officials to be about $160 million a year, will help fund violence prevention programs.

Right to repair – Senate Bill 244

The bill requires manufacturers of electronics priced at $50 or higher to make documentation and spare parts or tools available for repair. For products priced at $100 or more, parts and documentation must be available for seven years after the product was last manufactured.

The law broadly covers electronic and appliance products, including cell phones, laptops, tablets, and various home appliances, that were manufactured and sold or used for the first time in California on or after July 1, 2021.