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New California Laws to Know in 2020

California celebrated the new year with the addition of new legislation regarding education, healthcare, politics and more. Los Angeles Times and ABC7 explained just a few of the new laws out of the dozens signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that take effect this year. Here are some of the ones to know:


Minimum wage increased from $11 to $12 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Large employers must pay $13 an hour.

Businesses are now required to consider independent or contract workers as employees. Depending on the employer’s control of the work or the work’s application to the company’s core business, independent workers should be deemed as employees. 


Schools are required to update records regarding a student’s gender if changes were made to the individual’s official government identification. The updates may include reissuing high school diplomas, GEDs and transcripts. 


Rent legislation now restricts landlords from raising rates more than five percent plus inflation per year. This statewide rent control protection does not pertain to housing built within the last 15 years. 

Landlords are no longer allowed to reject a person whose rent will be partially covered by a Section 8 voucher. Low-income residents can apply for Section 8 vouchers, which offer rent assistance to qualified individuals. 

Anti-discrimination laws now apply in renting processes with companies like Airbnb and VRBO.


Pet adoption fees will be waived for military veterans. Animal shelters will verify veterans’ eligibility through California’s “veteran” license designation.


Vaccine exemptions now require a standardized medical form for doctors to fill out. Parents must submit any preexisting exemption forms to the state of California in 2021. If doctors exceed five written exemptions, their actions will be under state review. 

California residents must enroll in a healthcare plan. After taxes are filed in April 2021, failure to acquire health insurance will result in penalties.

Women acquiring birth control through apps like Planned Parenthood no longer have to undergo video conferencing with a medical professional in order to receive a prescription. 

Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals aged 19 to 25 will be offered regardless of their immigration status. 


Smoking is now illegal at most California state parks and beaches. Violators are subject to a $25 fine. 

Products containing microbeads are officially illegal to sell in the state. This legislation follows studies that show microbeads, which are often found in facial products and toothpaste, were discovered in waterways and estuaries.  


Californians can register to vote or change party registration on election day both in March and November. This applies at all local polling places.


Individuals banned from owning a gun in any other U.S. state are no longer allowed to have one in California.

In September, employers, co-workers and teachers will be able to request gun-violence restraining orders against another individual. Previously, gun seizures could only be requested by families or law enforcement. 


Drone surveillance is illegal in any areas where people have a reasonable expectation of personal privacy.


  • Rebecca Elliott

    Rebecca is the editor-in-chief of The Point and a freelance writer. She is a senior at PLNU majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in public relations.

About the author

Rebecca Elliott

Rebecca is the editor-in-chief of The Point and a freelance writer. She is a senior at PLNU majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in public relations.

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