The last one! Everyone make a plan to vote!
Prop 22: Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies From Providing Employee Benefits to Certain Drivers
Ahh.. the Uber/Lyft Prop.
Ok, so here is what happened. Rideshare/delivery apps hire individuals on as independent contractors. Lyft and Uber have repeatedly argued that what they do is simply connect people who want to drive with people who want a ride (hence the use of the term “rideshare” as opposed to something closer to hiring a driver). They argue that because of this they don’t have to pay a minimum wage to drivers who only get paid for the actual time driving, not for the time they spend waiting for a job, or to pay healthcare benefits, regardless of how many hours a driver works per week.
California disputed this, and the legislature passed a law that limited the ability of companies to hire workers as independent contractors. This law was perhaps a bit heavy-handed and while aimed at rideshare companies, it affected people outside of those industries (like freelancers). However, this prop only impacts rideshare companies.
This prop carves out an exception in the California law for rideshare companies, basically creating a separate class of rideshare contractors, who would not be subject to the California law. They would not need to be hired as employees, but would continue to be contractors. They would get some other benefits, like a health insurance stipend, and a guarantee to receive 120% of minimum wage for each hour a driver spends actually driving.
Its probably impossible to overstate the harm that the development of the “gig economy” has had on our society. It is a rather unique conflation of technological exploitation, undercutting workers’ rights, and the expansion of the capitalistic surveillance regime. The fact that Uber and Lyft have spent so much money to create and promote this prop should tell us all we need to know. They want this really badly; we shouldn’t give it to them.
Prop 23: Establishes State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional
There are around 600 dialysis facilities in California, where individuals with renal failure can go to receive dialysis, a process that replicates the function of the kidneys’ to filter blood. Dialysis facilities are operated by for-profit corporations who specialize in owning and operating these facilities. They are often not associated with hospitals or other medical facilities.
This proposition would create several regulations that would apply to these facilities.
1) It would require a doctor to be on-site during all hours that a patient receives treatment. Basically, if someone is getting dialysis, then there has to be a doctor there. If there is a shortage of doctors in the area, the state can authorize an exception and have a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant there to meet the requirement.
2) It requires the center to report data on dialysis-related infections to the states, and establishes penalties if they do not.
3) It requires a dialysis center to receive permission from the state before closing or reducing services. This is aimed at preventing a situation where patients would not have easy access to dialysis.
4) It prohibits dialysis centers from refusing services based on who is paying. Basically the center can’t refuse to take Medicaid, Medicare or Medi-Cal.
This one is tricky. A number of possibly beneficial aspects are being overshadowed by one main requirement. The requirement to have a doctor at every facility, at all times, is probably unnecessary. However, the requirements to report data, and the requirement to take all forms of insurance are all good things. It is also complicated by the fact that this is part of a union fight aimed at unionizing dialysis workers, which seems to be a good thing. However, most doctor and nursing organizations are in opposition, and they mostly focus on the doctor requirement. So, it seems like the good elements of this prop are overshadowed by the one large bad element.
Prop 24: Amends Consumer Privacy Laws
Oh hey, a prop about my dissertation! Fun!
Ok, so companies collect an immense amount of data on you. This can be from simple things like demographic information taken from when you input information on a form, to spending habits on places like Amazon, to incredibly detailed information about who you are, what you like, and even how you move through the world (Fun fact! The entire purpose of the Android operating system is to sell phones at a loss and make up for that by giving Google access to your real-time location, and phone usage habits!) (I’m also real fun at parties).
California already has laws about regulating data privacy. Companies have to tell you if they are collecting your data (hence the little pop-ups on literally every website these days), comply with requests to see data reports, or remove data and finally they cannot treat you differently if you don’t allow businesses to collect your data.
This prop would change existing laws in a number of ways.
1) It would change some existing privacy laws. It would change the law to have the restrictions apply to companies that have data on 100,000 consumers or households. This is up from 50,000. This might seem like a lot, but it is incredibly easy to get data on literally millions of people. It would also change some existing requirements, making companies tell you how long they are going to hold on to your data, but also allow them to keep things like student grades under certain circumstances.
2) It creates new privacy rights. It allows consumers to tell businesses to not share their personal data. It also allows consumers to correct personal data. And then it defines some data as “sensitive,” (Social security numbers, passwords and health data) and restricts their usage.
3) It creates an enforcement agency, the California Privacy Protection Agency, and allows them to collect fines from companies that violate this policy.
Let’s add this one to the list of props that are good in theory, and do some minor good things but aren’t going to cause any major changes. There are several major shortfalls with this. First, many of these laws are targeted at companies that collect data and then sell that data. This isn’t how many corporations utilize data. In fact, data collection is a proprietary mechanism for many companies. Google and Facebook aren’t selling your data. They are using them internally. There is also an issue with the idea of transparency. These big tech companies have done such a good job at normalizing the collection of data that they realize that people, in general, don’t really care about data privacy, and so using transparency as a regulatory mechanism fails. We’ve all accepted that Google Maps is going to take pictures of our houses.
It is also telling that no companies seem to be worried about this. We know that tech companies will go to great lengths to protect their data-collection enterprises, fighting back politically. However, we also know that these companies tend to simply ignore laws that they don’t think will be enforced. So, either Google doesn’t think that this will be a problem, or they are not worried about enforcement. Either way, it’s not good.
But, as with some other props, a small good thing is still a good thing. I want it to go further, but this seems to be a good start.
Prop 25 Referendum on Law that Replaced Money Bail With System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk
Oh hey! Another California prison system prop! But with some fun CA political procedural complications as well!
So, in 2018, the California legislature passed a law, that was signed by the governor that eliminates cash bail and changes the process for getting released from jail after being arrested. However, before this law went into effect, enough signatures were collected to put the law on the ballot as a referendum. This means that a YES vote on this prop upholds the law passed in 2018, while a NO vote rejects it. So, if you like this law, vote yes, if you don’t, vote no.
What does the 2018 law do?
It eliminates cash bail entirely. If you are arrested, instead of paying a fee to be released from jail, instead, you are assessed for the risk of committing a new crime and then either released or kept in jail.
For most misdemeanor crimes you must be released from jail withing 12 hours. There are some exceptions for things like domestic violence.
For felonies, there will be an assessment staff that would determine a risk level for individuals. People deemed to be low-risk or medium-risk would be released, with some conditions, which might include regular check-ins or electronic monitoring.
State trial courts would be responsible for this assessment. At no point in this process would anyone charged with a crime be charged any money.
On the whole, cash bail is a racist, classist form of punishing individuals who do not have the means to pay their way out of jail, either forcing them into a cycle of debt or forcing them to take plea bargains, landing them in jail without a trial. Getting rid of cash bail is a good and necessary thing.
The one worry I have with this system, is that the prop is vague about how the risk assessment process might be undertaken. There is a worrying trend towards automating such assessments, which tends to target poor, minority communities (https://www.amazon.com/Automating-Inequality-High-Tech-Profile-Police/dp/1250074312). We’ve seen this with the rise of predictive policing, and there is a major risk that this happens here as well. However, the necessity of getting rid of the cash bail system overrides this, but we should be on alert for this.
And that's its! If you made it this far, thanks for reading the whole thing!