New California Environmental Laws Now in Effect

An elephant at a circus in Munich, Germany. Don't expect to see any exotic animals at circuses in California from now on -- a new law bans any circus animals other than dogs, cats and domesticated horses. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Image)

It happens every January…

New year, new laws. 

From a ban on smoking at state beaches and parks to a requirement that new homes include solar panels, here is some of the California environmental legislation that took effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Solar Panels Required on New California Homes

A mandate approved by the California Building Standards Commission in 2018 now requires that new homes built in the state include solar panels. The new standard applies to single- and multifamily residences up to three stories. The law is aimed at helping the state reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Smoking Ban at State Beaches and Parks

Smoking and vaping are no longer permitted at California state beaches or parks. The fine for breaking the new law runs up to $25.  Also prohibited in those areas: disposing of used cigarettes or cigars.

No More Exotic Animals at the Circus

If you go to the circus in 2020, don't expect to see juggling monkeys, roaring lions or trained elephants. That's because a new law restricts the exhibition or use of animals in circuses to dogs, cats and domesticated horses. Violations can draw fines of up to $25,000 per day. Rodeos are exempt.

Animal Testing in Cosmetics

Makeup and other cosmetics that were tested on animals can no longer be sold or manufactured in California. A federal judge has temporarily issued a restraining order blocking enforcement of a separate law that prohibits the sale of products made from alligator or crocodile skin, pending an April hearing on the state of Louisiana's request for a preliminary injunction.

Wildfire Warning Center

A new law establishes a wildfire warning center to better predict weather conditions and share information around the state.

Power Shutoffs 

Investor-owned utilities are required to draft plans to lessen the negative effects of pre-emptive power outages aimed at preventing electric equipment from sparking fires.

Emergency Plans

Counties must now include “cultural competence” into emergency plans. The law is partially a response to elderly and non-English-speaking residents who missed emergency alerts during the state's recent wildfires.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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