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New laws move California toward safer, fairer future

As of July 1, California isn’t just changing some of its laws – it’s changing lives. From the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the serene landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, residents will navigate a new legal landscape that includes groundbreaking changes such as taxing firearms to protect schools, ensuring transparent pricing in shopping carts, and mandating safety in the night scene with freely available drug-testing kits in bars.

These shifts reflect a state committed to tackling pressing societal challenges head-on, promising a safer, fairer, and more transparent future for its diverse population.

Here’s a roundup of some key new laws that went into effect with the start of the fiscal year on Monday, July 1.

Ammo and Gun Tax (AB 28): California introduces an 11 percent state tax on guns and ammunition, making it the first state to implement such a measure. The revenue generated is intended to fund school safety and violence prevention programs.

Building Homeownership (SB 684): This law is designed to facilitate housing development by mandating cities and counties to approve, without public hearings or votes, certain projects that include up to 10 housing units in multifamily zones.

Date-Rape Drug Testing Kits in Bars (AB 1013): Bars with a specific type of liquor license must now offer drug testing kits, either for sale or free, to help patrons test for the presence of date-rape drugs.

Eliminating Hidden/Junk Fees (SB 478): This legislation aims to enhance price transparency by prohibiting businesses from advertising or listing prices that do not include all mandatory fees, except for certain taxes and shipping costs.

Keep Kids in School (SB 274): The new law changes existing regulations to ban suspending K-12 students for “willful defiance,” expanding protections that previously covered only grades K-8.

Menstrual Products in Schools (AB 230): Public schools from grades 3-12 are required to provide free menstrual products, extending the coverage which was previously limited to grades 6-12.

Right to Repair Act (SB 244): This law mandates manufacturers to provide necessary tools, parts, and software to facilitate the repair of electronic devices, thereby supporting consumer rights and independent repair businesses.

Security Deposit Cap (AB 12): The new rule limits the maximum-security deposit for renting a dwelling unit to one month’s rent, with specific provisions for smaller property owners.

These laws, officials noted, reflect the state’s ongoing efforts to address issues like housing affordability, consumer protection, public safety, and education reform. Each measure is part of a broader legislative agenda aimed at improving the quality of life for all Californians while also setting precedents that could influence other states.