New year, new laws. Since California is often on the cutting edge, let’s take a look at some of the state’s new laws that are going into effect in 2023. This is just a sample, not the whole list.

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Minimum wage

Good news for California workers struggling to get by. The California minimum wage will go up to $15.50. Employers will also be required to report pay data based on gender and race. Lower-income Californians will get a bit more pay while on family leave.

Related: California is the first state to ban plastic produce bags


California will be a sanctuary state for transgender healthcare. The state is also trying to protect abortion access by expanding abortion training options and protecting people who have abortions from criminal or civil liabilities.

Criminal justice

On the criminal justice and public safety front, a new law prohibits law enforcement from using DNA from rape victims when investigating unrelated crimes. Hopefully, this will remove one of the barriers that could prevent victims from reporting a rape. Also, people detained in California’s jails and prisons will now be able to make free phone calls. And jaywalkers will no longer be ticketed, as long as they’re using good sense and only crossing the street when it’s safe.


People against cruelty will be happy to learn that California is banning the sale and manufacturing of new fur clothes and accessories. Reselling used fur is still legal. A new law bans selling and distributing food packaging that contains PFAS, which has been linked to problems with fertility and pregnancy. California is trying to eliminate the “pink tax,” or gender-based pricing. A good idea, and it will be interesting to see how this is enforced.

Mental health

California’s new CARE court will open in six counties in October. The court will have the authority to mandate mental health care for unhoused, severely mentally ill people. If that goes well, the program will probably expand statewide by the end of 2024.


Anyone who’s been harmed by gun violence in California will be able to sue firearm manufacturers, effective later in 2023. This could put a very large dent in profits.


Some other legislation is stalled, and may or may not go into effect in 2023. These measures include making it easier for farmworkers to unionize, creating a state council to bargain for working conditions and wages on behalf of fast food workers, and establishing more oil drilling boundaries.


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