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Politics & Policy

Major new California laws going into effect in 2024: Wages, mushrooms, sick time and more

A man in a suit talks behind a podium.
Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a slew of new laws set to take effect in the new year. | Source: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Once the calendar flips to 2024, a slate of new laws is set to hit the books in California, covering issues ranging from mental health to protections for weed smokers.

Here are some of the most important laws to know about in the new year.

Minimum Wage Bump

Some of the most notable laws are measures that will increase the state’s minimum wage, such as one law increasing wages to $16 per hour for all employers starting on Jan. 1. Meanwhile, fast food employers will be required to pay workers a minimum of $20 an hour beginning April 1.

Health care workers are also receiving a pay bump to $18 per hour starting June 2024 and will see an additional increase to $25 per hour in June 2033.

Three men pass a joint around.
Most employers will be blocked from scrutinizing or penalizing staff for using cannabis. | Source: James Wyatt/The Standard

Getting High After Work

Another new law going into effect on Jan. 1 will make it illegal for employers to discriminate against and penalize employees if they’re found using cannabis away from work—except during pre-employment screenings. The bill provides exemptions for certain employers, such as those in the building and construction trades.

Junk Fees

A law to end some questionable marketing practices will ban hidden fees, which lure in customers with deceptively low prices—only to tack on additional charges later. The practice is standard on apps such as Airbnb, where sellers often add cleaning fees and service charges late in the buying process.

Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement that these "junk fees" have put companies with honest business practices at a disadvantage.

"These deceptive fees prevent us from knowing how much we will be charged at the outset," Bonta said. "California now has the most effective piece of legislation in the nation to tackle this problem."

The law will go into effect on July 1.

A mushroom sprouting.
The California Golden Chanterelle is the official state mushroom. | Source: Getty Images

The Official State Mushroom

A law sponsored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) will make the California Golden Chanterelle the official state mushroom. The bill aims to “promote appreciation, education and study of mushrooms in this state,” according to its text.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) could not legalize magic mushrooms during this year's legislative session.

Lowering Security Deposits

A new law going into effect on July 1, introduced by Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), will prohibit landlords who own more than two rental properties from demanding security deposits that cost more than a single month’s rent. Some landlords in California have previously demanded security deposits that total up to three times a single month's rent, leaving many families unable to land homes they could otherwise afford, Haney said.

"The result is that landlords lose out on good tenants and tenants stay in homes that are too crowded, unsafe or far from work or school," Haney said. "This new law is a simple commonsense change that will have an enormous impact on housing affordability for families."

A long homeless encampment on a city street.
Legislators made it easier to apply conservatorships to people with untreated mental illness and addiction. | Source: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Forced Mental Health Treatment

Legislators passed a bill that will make it easier to place people under conservatorships—a type of treatment that grants the courts or other guardians legal authority over a person with mental illness.

The new law expands the definition of “gravely disabled,” which will now include people who have drug and alcohol addiction or are deemed unable to care for themselves, likely making more people eligible for conservatorships.

Proponents of the law argue that forced treatment will help cities abate the state's troubling mental health and homelessness crises. San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued an executive order in October to allow the city to fast-track implementation of the new guidelines.

Critics argue the state lacks sufficient treatment beds for people already under conservatorships.

More Sick Time

A new law, SB 616, will require all California employers to give their workers at least five days, or 40 hours, of sick leave every year.

Previously, California law guaranteed employees a minimum of three days, or 24 hours, of sick leave. However, the requirements varied by county, causing complications for larger employers. The new law aims to standardize the policy statewide.