The new year brings a raft of new laws for Californians. They’re likely to affect what your neighborhood looks like, how safe you feel, what recourse you have against discrimination — even how you take out your trash.

In 2021 the Legislature’s super-majority of Democrats sent Gov. Gavin Newsom hundreds of bills that he signed into law, including several with major consequences for Californians. Here’s a breakdown of 11 of those new laws taking effect in 2022, most of which lawmakers approved in the last session (a few videos cover more than one new law on the same subject).

Stripping bad cops of their badges

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For decades, bad cops could skirt discipline by jumping from one California police force to another.

That’s about to change. Soon, being convicted of offenses like sexual assault and using excessive force will be enough to kick officers out of the profession in California.

Limiting single-family zoning

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California has a critical housing shortage: The median home price broke $800,000 in 2021, and some experts say California needs about 3 million new homes for the growing population.

But for decades, strict zoning laws have allowed developers to build mostly single-family homes. With these two new laws, housing construction is going to look different.

Ban on even more secret settlements

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Non-disclosure agreements — also called NDAs — are everywhere. They’re used in Hollywood; they’re used in tech. Sometimes, they’re used to settle claims of discrimmination and harassment secretly. 

Starting in 2022 that will be illegal in California. 

Requiring composting — and limiting 'recyclable' labels

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Let’s talk trash, California. This state has long fashioned itself as a “planet protector” — but in 2022 it’s taking it to a new level.

Two new laws aim to stop you from throwing food away in your regular garbage, and to stop products from carrying the chasing-arrow recycling symbol when they aren’t really recyclable.

Quicker mental health care follow-up

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Even before the pandemic, Californians were increasingly concerned about mental health care: Surveys showed people thought such care was too hard to access, and that they had to wait too long for it. The recent surge in demand brought on by the pandemic has made this even worse.

By law, health plans must offer initial mental health appointments within 10 business days. But some advocates say that’s not good enough if patients are then forced to wait weeks or months for follow-up care. This law aims to change that.

Cracking down on condom "stealthing"

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Consent is paramount during any sexual act, and California law now gives victims of sexual battery more power to hold perpetrators accountable.

This first-in-the-nation law tightens the definition of sexual battery to include non-consensual condom removal — a practice colloquially known as “stealthing.”

Minimum wage for garment workers

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The people who shape and sew raw fabrics into clothing used to get paid by the amount they produced. That system worked well for the fashion industry, but meant garment workers were getting paid as little as $3 per hour. 

This year lawmakers ended that practice.

Restricting what police can do to control protests

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California is going to do more to protect protestors seeking police reform, and the reporters covering their demonstrations.

Both new laws come in response to chaotic scenes from protests in California and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

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Byrhonda Lyons is a national award-winning investigative reporter for CalMatters. She writes and produces compelling stories about California’s court and criminal system. Her reporting has uncovered...