Governor Signs Last New Laws of 2019

A smoldering cigarette butt is one of the last to be allowed as a ban on smoking in parks is
signed into law. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed the last new laws of the 2019 legislative session. They include a ban on smoking in parks and beaches; a ban on the sale of furs; on trained exotic animals in circuses and shows; and a mandatory later start time for high schools.

No Smoking. Beginning on January 1, it will be illegal to smoke at all state parks and beaches. The ban includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vaping devices, or “any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation.” 

Jerry Brown, Newsom’s predecessor, vetoed a similar bill three times, arguing that smokers should be free to smoke outdoors. Growing fire fears and new evidence that the chemicals—more than 4000— that leach out of cigarette butts and filters are more toxic than previously realized. That this type of litter is also detrimental to a wide range of marine life, has added urgency to the push for a ban.

Violators will only face a $25 fine—New Jersey, which passed a beach smoking ban last year, has a $250 penalty—but advocates of the new law say it will help clean up the environment and reduce fire risk.

Ban on Sale and Manufacture of Furs. Newsom also signed a landmark bill that makes California the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of furs. Leather and skins from domesticated animals like cows and sheep will still be sold, and there are exemptions for religious and tribal purposes and also for taxidermy. The penalty for violations is $1000.

Ban on Circus Animals. California has joined Hawaii and New Jersey to ban circuses and shows from using performing animals, including elephants, tigers and bears. Horses, dogs and domestic cats are exempt from the ban. The new law does not apply to rodeos. Violators will face a $25,000 fine per day for each violation.

“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a statement. “But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames.”

Schools. High school and middle school students will rejoice over a new law that requires middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m., and high school classes to begin at 8:30 a.m. Optional “zero period” early classes will still be permitted. 

The law applies to public and charter schools, but rural areas are exempt. It won’t go into effect statewide until July 1, 2022, but many school districts are expected to comply before that date.

Medicinal Cannabis. Another school-related new law allows students with prescriptions for medicinal cannabis to receive their medication at school, in the same way other prescription medicines are administered.

Commission on Recycling. Newsom vetoed a high-profile bill indented to curb single-use plastic production and use in California, but he signed a law that creates a new Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling, and new laws that tackle carpet and mattress recycling.

AB 1680, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara), mandates a public beach access program for the exclusive and longtime private beach community of Hollister Ranch. Watch for this law to have implications on the local coast, where beach access remains a controversial issue in Malibu.

All new laws go into effect on January 1, 2020, unless otherwise specified.


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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