The presidential election is the current hot topic, eagerly awaited and dominates the media immensely. The general election will take place on November 3 but the next president isn’t the only thing on the ballot. California voters will determine the outcome of 12 statewide ballot measures that, if approved, will take effect once the election results are finalized in December. The proposition topics vary from property taxes, criminal justice and workplace regulations.

This year the scene of elections changed drastically due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is encouraging voters to vote by mail in order to protect them from the coronavirus. Everyone will receive a mail-in ballot, but those who prefer to vote in person can still do so. 

Each proposition requires approval by a simple majority of voters in order to pass. Here is the breakdown of the 12 ballot measures.

Proposition 14 

Proposition 14 is a citizen-initiated ballot measure that, if passed, will allow California to continue funding stem cell research by borrowing up to $5.5 billion; money that will be paid back by California taxpayers over time with interest.

In 2004, California voters said yes to Proposition 71 which created California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), issued $3 billion bonds to finance it, and established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research. 

On July 1, 2019, CIRM suspended applications for new projects due to depleted funds. Although their funds are not enough for any new projects, they do have enough money set aside to continue funding all the projects the board has already approved. 

Proposition 15

Proposition 15 is an initiated constitutional amendment that would change tax assessments on commercial and industrial properties and require them to be taxed on their market value, rather than their purchase price. 

Residential properties, like your home, and businesses with under $3 million in California property, and farm land would not be affected directly.  

In 1978, California voters said yes to Proposition 13, often referred to as the beginning of tax revolt. It was a big tax cut for landowners which required that residential, commercial, and industrial properties are taxed based on their purchase price. It also provided a massive break to some of the state’s larger businesses. 

Proposition 15 wants to strip big businesses of this protection, and provide new funding to local governments and schools with the tax increase. 

Proposition 16

Proposition 16 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal Proposition 209, restoring affirmative action in California, a practice that has been illegal since 1996. This would eliminate the ban on the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public education, public employment, and public contracting

Repealing Proposition 209 and restoring affirmative action means the state government, local governments, public universities, and other political subdivisions and public entities would be allowed to develop and use affirmative action programs that grant preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting.

Proposition 17

Proposition 17 is a constitutional amendment that would restore the right to vote for people on parole in California. The current State Constitution allows people in county jails to vote but disqualifies the ones in state or federal prison including those serving time for parole violation.

The proposition would also allow the parolees to run for office if they’re registered to vote and if they haven’t been convicted of perjury and bribery. 

Those who are against it, such as Crime Victims United of California, and Election Integrity Project California, argue that voting is a right that offenders should receive once they demonstrate they have been rehabilitated, not before, and that parole is an opportunity for them to prove themselves.

Proposition 18

Proposition 18 is a constitutional amendment that would allow eligible 17-year-olds who will be 18 years old by the November date of the next general election to vote. Nationwide, at least 19 states and Washington D.C. allow 17-year-olds who would be eligible for the next general election to vote early. 

Supporters of Proposition 18 argue that 17-year-olds who will be 18 and eligible to vote for the general election should also have a say in who will be on the November ballot by giving the right to vote in the primary elections. 

Proposition 19

Proposition 19 is a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would allow all homeowners who are over 55 to be eligible for property tax savings when they move. Only inherited properties used as primary homes or farms would be eligible for property tax savings.

In 2018, California voters said no to Proposition 5, the Property Tax Transfer Initiative, that was put on the ballot by petition signatures started by California realtors. The idea was that seniors who buy a new house would keep the same lower property tax rate they would’ve owned on their old house, based on what they originally paid for it back then. 

Prop 19 is very similar to defeated Prop 5, but with a twist; it requires the reassessment of the inherited property at market value if not used as principal residences, such as second homes, or rentals. In 2018, a Times investigation found wealthy Californians, including the heirs of Hollywood celebrities, who charged monthly rents much higher than the annual tax payment.

Proposition 20

Proposition 20 is an initiative statute that, if passed, would restrict parole for certain offenses currently considered to be non-violent. It would increase penalties for certain property crimes and repeated parole violations and make it more difficult for some convicted felons to qualify for early parole and release from prison. 

In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, an initiative that reduced the classification of most nonviolent property and drug crimes including theft and fraud for amounts up to 950 dollars from a felony to a misdemeanor. In 2016, Proposition 57 was approved, increasing parole opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and allowing judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in courts.

Prop 20 would undo parts of each measure, by reclassifying some property crimes as “wobblers” meaning they could be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. It would increase penalties for people who violated the terms of their parole. It would also require law enforcement to collect DNA samples from people convicted of theft, domestic violence and some property crimes. 

Proposition 21

Proposition 21 is a local rent control initiative that, if passed, would allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago by replacing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act

Costa-Hawkins is a state law established in 1995 that sets some requirements for the cities with rent control including the city of Los Angeles. It protects a landlord’s right to raise the rent to market rate on a unit once a tenant moves out. It also prevents cities from capping rent on units constructed after February 1995. It exempts single-family homes and condos from rent control restrictions.

In 2018, California voters said no to Proposition 10, a similar measure that tried to replace Costa-Hawkins by allowing local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) co-sponsored Proposition 10 back in 2018.

“The one lesson we learned from Proposition 10 is that the voters were not interested in a wholesale repeal of Costa Hawkins. But the other message we got in polling and focus groups is that people believe there are excesses to Costa Hawkins and there needs to be reforms.” said Rand Martin, a lobbyist for AHF.

Proposition 22

Proposition 22 is an initiated state statute that, if passed, would define app-based transportation and delivery drivers as independent contractors and adopt new labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies.

As independent contractors, drivers could decide when, where, and how much to work but would not get standard benefits and protections that businesses must provide employees. As employees, drivers would have less choice about when, where, and how much to work but would be obligated to standard benefits and protections.

On Sept. 18, 2019 California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5, creating the presumption that a worker is an employee, rather than an independent contractor, unless the hiring business can prove each part of the ABC test.

On Aug. 10, 2020 the Superior Court of San Francisco ruled that Uber and Lyft violated AB 5 and misclassified their workers. Supporters of Prop 22 are big companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.

Proposition 23

Proposition 23 is an initiated state statute that, if passed, would establish state requirements for kidney dialysis clinics such as mandatory presence of at least one on-site physician during operation hours, required reports of patient infection data to the state health department, and prohibiting insurance discrimination. 

In 2018 Californians rejected Proposition 8, which would require dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements. Prop 8 was the most expensive initiative on the 2018 ballot, generating more than $130 million in campaign contributions. A health care workers union, Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, funded the $18 million supporting campaign. Dialysis companies contributed more than $111 million to kill the initiative.

This year opponents include the majority of California’s healthcare industry including DaVita, Fresenius Medical Care, California Medical Association, California State Conference NAACP. Supporters include service Employees International Union United Health Care Workers, California Labor Federation, California Democratic Party.

Proposition 24

Proposition 24, is an initiated state statute that, if passed, would expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws, including provisions to allow consumers to direct businesses to not share their personal information, remove the time period in which businesses can fix violations before being penalized, and create the Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the state’s consumer data privacy laws.

In 2018, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that requires companies that store personal information to disclose to consumers what types of information are collected and how the information is used. Proposition 24 would expand the provisions of CCPA by redefining what it means to share data.  

Proposition 25

Proposition 25, is a veto referendum that, if passed, would replace cash bail with a system based on risk assessments for detained suspects awaiting trials. 

In 2018, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10, that eliminated the option for bail for people who are arrested and replace judges and bail hearings with computer algorithms to determine who qualifies for release pending trial. Before the law could go into effect, the bail industry gathered enough signatures to call for a referendum which puts the law on hold until voters accept or reject it. 

Supporters include Service Employees International Union, California Democratic Party, California Medical Association, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Opposers include California State Conference of the NAACP, California Peace Officers’ Association, California Bail Agents Association, Human Rights Watch.

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