Assembly

Assembly: Phil Ting

New Laws for 2023

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. From local food drives to neighborhood festivities, it was nice to see our community get into the spirit.

2022 was a successful legislative year for me, with many of my bills taking effect on Jan. 1. At the top of the list are two of bills that aim to bring more fairness and equity in the way some of our traffic violations are handled.

The most significant is how jaywalking will be enforced throughout California. AB-2147 (“The Freedom To Walk Act”) allows people to safely cross the street outside of an intersection when the roadway is clear of moving vehicles. Law enforcement will still be able issue a citation if the pedestrian is causing a hazard.

Jaywalking tickets have been disproportionately given to people of color. Sometimes, such police encounters can turn deadly or lead to serious injury. These consequences are just too great. In addition, the fines are ridiculous and can total hundreds of dollars, severely hurting the budgets of lower-income families.

Crossing the street shouldn’t be a crime. The auto industry pushed jaywalking laws nearly a century ago, which only serve them, not pedestrians. I’m glad we’re starting to re-evaluate our streets and prioritizing walkers. Virginia already prohibits officers from stopping a pedestrian just for jaywalking. And in Nevada, it’s no longer considered a misdemeanor.

Next, AB-2594, seeks to reform the way late fees and penalties are assessed for bridge and road tolls. When the system completely removed cash toll takers and moved to 100 percent FasTrak at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it left unbanked individuals with very few options to pay without a credit or debit card. The added late fees and penalties to unpaid balances grew exponentially. In one instance, an East Bay driver’s balance reached more than $30,000. Only $2,500 of that was in actual toll fees.

Starting Jan. 1, agencies must notify violators of a new program coming this summer that allows late fees and penalties to be waived if drivers settle their toll balances. They must also create in-person payment opportunities. In addition, the DMV must notify customers changing their driver’s license address to also do so on their vehicle registration, so that notices go to the right place.

On the environmental front, consumers will see safer fast food packaging in the new year. AB-1200 bans PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, from to-go containers and wrappers that are often used to keep grease and other liquids from leaking out. It was passed in 2021, but companies were given until 2023 to comply.

PFAS is a class of roughly 9,000 man-made chemicals linked to health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid disease and vaccine interference. When they come into contact with food, consumers ingest them. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are already phasing out PFAS-laced wrappers, boxes and other similar products, or have committed to the goal. New York, Washington and Maine have enacted a similar law prohibiting the use of PFAS in food packaging.

I was sworn-in for my sixth and final two-year term about a month ago and will continue to prioritize making California a better state for everyone. If you have any ideas or feedback regarding the upcoming legislative year, please attend my Community Coffee on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. at the Geneva Car Barn, located at 2301 San Jose Ave. You can RSVP on my website: https://a19.asmdc.org/.

Here’s to a great 2023.

Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City as well as part of South San Francisco.

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