Bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor usually go into effect on January 1st of the following year. For better or worse, here are just a few new laws that go into effect New Year’s Day: Laws impacting businesses include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour for businesses with less than 25 employees. Previously, only larger companies were required to pay the increased amount. Another new law requires California businesses with more than 15 employees to make pay scales for each job publicly available to all employees. Still another law prevents companies from checking most potential new employees’ felony records, since many individuals will now be able to have their criminal records sealed. Homelessness and mental illness will be impacted by new Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Courts to be established in 7 counties, including San Diego, allowing the courts to order persons suffering from severe mental illness into treatment. The program begins in October for the 7 counties, and in all counties by December 2024. Among other new laws: Pedestrians will no longer be cited for jaywalking in most situations; police won’t be allowed to arrest/cite persons they believe to be loitering to solicit for prostitution; the sale and manufacture of new fur clothing and accessories will be banned; toxicity testing for certain pesticides, chemical substances or food additives using household pets will be banned; the Lunar New Year will be recognized as a holiday for state employees; housing construction in strip malls or industrial parks could be fast-tracked in many cases. These are just a few new laws that may have slipped under many people’s radar. The Legislature reconvenes on January 4th, and over 2,000 bills are likely to be introduced. Assemblymember Marie Waldron represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes most of rural eastern and northern San Diego County.