Photo courtesy of Metro Creative 

2020 is ushering in hundreds of new laws, most of which are already in effect as of Jan. 1. Other than the five covered below, a few notables are: an increased minimum wage (Senate Bill 3); extended paid leave for those caring for a new child or sick family member (Senate Bill 83); and effective July 1, students through eighth grade cannot be suspended for defiance (Senate Bill 419).

AB 1482: Rent control

Effective Jan. 1 and ending Jan. 1, 2030, when this law will be repealed, Assembly Bill (AB) 1482 prohibits a property owner from increasing rent more than 5% plus the cost of living percentage throughout a 12-month period. After a tenant occupies a property for more than 12 months, property owner is also prohibited from increasing the rent for that unit in more than two increments. This law does not affect renters in cities with stricter rent controls already in place, and certain properties are exempt. AB 1482 also strengthens restrictions on some evictions. For the full text of the law, see

AB 218: Statute of limitations for child sexual assault

Assembly Bill 218, effective Jan. 1, lengthens the statute of limitations for a victim of childhood sexual assault to come forward against their abuser. Past law dictated legal action must be taken by a victim within eight years of the date that either: the plaintiff reaches 18; or when they “reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse,” whichever occurred later. Under the new law, the plaintiff has 22 years from the date they reach 18; or five years from the date they discover the psychological injuries or illnesses resulting from their abuse, whichever occurred later.

“The idea that someone who is assaulted as a child can actually run out of time to report that abuse is outrageous,” bill author Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, wrote in a statement. “More and more, we’re hearing about people who were victims years ago but were not ready to come forward to tell their story until now. We shouldn’t be telling victims their time is up when in reality we need them to come forward to protect the community from future abuse.”

For the full text of the law, see

AB 5: Classification of independent contractors and employees

Starting Jan. 1, Assembly Bill 5 changes the classification of some workers from independent contractors to employees. According to the law, a person providing labor or services for pay is considered an employee, unless “the hiring entity demonstrates the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.” Certain occupations are exempt, including: licensed insurance agents, some licensed health care professionals, registered securities broker-dealers or investment advisers, direct sales salespersons, real estate licensees, commercial fishermen, workers providing licensed barber or cosmetology services and others performing work under contract for professional services. For the full text of the law, see

SB 8: Smoking ban at state parks and beaches

Senate Bill 8 makes it illegal to smoke on state beaches or within the state park system, effective Jan. 1. Those found in violation will be fined $25. SB 8 also requires the Department of Parks and Recreation to post signage at beaches and parks to inform visitors of the law. Existing law that punishes violators $250 for smoking cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products within 25 feet of playgrounds is not affected.

“Thanks Gavin Newsom for signing my bill to ban smoking on state beaches and parks- providing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for people, fish and wildlife,” State Sen. Steve Glazer, the primary sponsor of the bill, wrote in a statement. “Cigarettes are one of the biggest polluters of our beaches and oceans and have caused many forest fires.”

For the full text of the law, see

SB 72: Same-day voter registration

Effective Jan. 1, Senate Bill 72 requires all statewide polling places and satellite offices to allow Californians to register to vote or change their party registration in person on election days in March and November. For the full text of the law, see