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!
Prop 18: Amends California Constitution to Permit 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primary and Special Elections If They Will Turn 18 by the Next General Election and Be Otherwise Eligible to Vote
Currently, if you are 16 or 17 you can pre-register to vote in California. This means that you can register when you are 16, and then after you turn 18, you are immediately able to vote in the next election, whenever that may be.
This proposition makes a minor adjustment, and allows some 17 year-olds to vote in primaries, and special elections, if they turn 18 before the next general election.
The basic idea is something like this. Let’s imagine that you are 17 years old in 2020, but you have a birthday in September or October, where you will be turning 18. This means that you will be eligible to vote in the November election, but you were unable to vote in the March Primary. In a way, this means that you were unable to fully participate in the 2020 election because you were not able to participate in the primary process.
This proposition changes this so that you could vote in the primary, if you turn 18 before the general election.
Basically, why not? It encourages political participation at a younger age and gives first time voters a complete electoral experience. We already pre-register them, and primary elections are a good way of getting young people involved.
Prop 19: Changes Certain Property Tax Rules
Alright, so we are back to property taxes. Fun!
Again, remember the old system. Property tax allocated at time of purchase, at 1.1% of purchase price. Then increasing by 2% a year.
Importantly, if you inherit a property from a parent or grandparent, you also inherit the old tax calculation.
Also importantly, if you are over 55, severely disabled, or have had property impacted by a natural disaster, there is a special rule that means that you are eligible to move into a house that is not more expensive than your existing home and keep your old tax rate.
A quick example. Imagine you purchased a house in 2010, for 100,000 (yes this is insane, but it makes the math easy!) Your home would be assessed at the time of purchase for 1,100 a year. Then in 2001, it would go up 2%, or $22, to $1,122 and so on until 2020 when your yearly property tax would be $1340.90. But according to the OC Register (https://www.ocregister.com/2019/11/29/redemption-decade-california-home-price-gains-double-the-nations/) home prices have increased 120% in that time. (The Register looks at the time between 2009 and 2019, but close enough!) This means that your $100,000 house is now worth $220,000., So if you bought it today, the property tax would be $2420.
So, the special rule means that if you are over 55, have a severe disability or had your house burn down in a wildfire, you could now move into a $220,000 home, and keep your old tax rate of $1340. Currently the rule states that you can only do this once, so if your new home burns down in a second wildfire, you are out of luck!
Ok, so what does this prop do?
Several things for people who are part of the special rule (Over 55, severely disabled, natural disaster).
1) You can buy new home anywhere in the state (some counties had restrictions on this special rule).
2) You can buy a more expensive home. Your taxes would go up, but not as much.
3) You can use the special rule three times, rather than only once.
It also changes the rules for inherited property.
Inheriting the old tax calculation would only happen if:
1) The home is used as a primary residence for the child or grandchild (you actually have to live in the inherited home)
2) It is a farm.
3) If you do not use the inherited property as a primary residence, OR, if the value of the home or farm exceeds the taxable value by more than $1 million, then the property is taxed as if you just purchased it.
So if we imagine that your grandparent somehow bought a home in San Francisco for $100,000, but it’s now worth $5 million, if you inherit the property, you have to pay taxes on it as if it were worth $5 million, not $100,000. Note: your grandparent’s property taxes would not go up, only yours if you inherit it.
Again, California’s property taxes are bonkers, but this is a good move. With the increase in wildfires and climate change, moving because of natural disasters is going to become more common. Also, it doesn’t affect people living on a fixed income, actually giving them more flexibility, perhaps allowing them to move and free up more real estate.
And then the inheritance laws have allowed for some massive loopholes where people pay very little tax on massively valuable property, so closing that is a good thing.
Prop 20: Restrict Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to Be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors.
And now we return to California’s prison system.
In general, this is a prop that makes California’s sentencing and parole system stricter and more punitive. There are a lot of little things going on in this prop, but here are the general concepts.
It increases the penalties for theft, making it easier to charge individuals with felonies for things like shoplifting or petty theft. This is either by changing definitions of laws, or by creating new types of crime, “Serial Theft,” and “Organized Retail Theft.”
It changes parole requirements, making it harder to release someone on parole, and easier to send them back to prison. This is done in a number of ways, from changing what is considered at parole hearings, or making judges look at the cases (rather than the parole board itself), or making an individual serve more prison time before coming up for parole.
It expands DNA collection to people who have been convicted of misdemeanors.
Again, California’s prison system is a mess, and in general the state has slowly been moving in the right direction, from attempting to lower prison populations, to reforming three strikes laws, to legalizing marijuana. This prop moves in the wrong direction, creating an overly punitive parole process and expanding the ability of prosecutors to upgrade misdemeanors to felonies, a thing that disproportionately impacts minorities.
Prop 21: Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property
California currently has a patchwork rent control system. First individual cities have the ability to manage rents, which several cities (LA, San Francisco, San Jose) have done. Second the Costa-Hawkins law limits who rent control can apply to. It cannot apply to single-family homes, and it cannot apply to housing built after Feb. 1 1995. It also cannot tell a landlord what they must charge in rent, only set limitations. Third, a state law limits rent increases to 5% plus inflation, or 10% (whichever is lower) per year. This applies to housing over 15 years old.
This prop would modify Costa-Hawkins, and allow rent control to be applied to most property over 15 years old. It would not apply to single family homes owned by people with two or fewer properties. It would also allow cities to limit how much a landlord can increase rent when a new renter moves in. But, communities that do this, must allow rent increases of up to 15% for three years.
Basically it provides some additional limitations on raising rent, mostly by applying the law to more people and applying it to new tenants.
Housing pricing is one of the biggest challenges facing California. Increasing rent control is one small way of trying to fix this problem. I think there are larger actions that could be taken, including revamping zoning restrictions, but I think this is a good thing, even if its underdone. I’m not going to stand in the way of a small good thing.
Election year, so you know what that means! Well, a number of things... but a new version of Stefan's guide to props! This year we have 12 props, broken up into three parts:
Prop 14: Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research
Quick tangent: What is a bond? A bond is a personal loan that individuals give to the state by purchasing them. It is like investing in the state. You buy a CA bond with the promise that the State will pay you back in the future, with a return on investment. These are sold on the open market and therefore are subject to the general fluctuations of the investment market.
Longer explanation: https://www.treasurer.ca.gov/publications/bonds101.pdf
The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is a state-funded organization that gives out grant money to universities and other institutions to support stem cell research. This institute was created in 2004, after another proposition passed, and seeded the institute with 3 billion dollars. As of June 2020, the institution has spent nearly all of its initial $3 billion in funding, giving most of the money to University of California researchers, or private nonprofit universities and institutions, (Stanford received a large grant recently, for example).
This proposition would provide an addition $5.5 billion to the institute, for the same purpose, but it would allocate $1.5 billion of this to specifically look at brain and nervous system diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It would also do a number of other minor things, like allow the institute to hire more full time employees, to support patient access to treatment, or provide internships and educational support for students at CA community colleges and at the Cal State System.
The financial cost of this is estimated at $250 million per year, for 30 years. Much of this money would be made by selling bonds, but the repayment of the bonds and paying down the remainder makes up the most of the state cost. It is worth noting that $250 million per year is less than 1% of the states’ General Fund budget.
Because of the speculative nature of research, we don’t really know what exactly the outcome of this expenditure will be. Discovery of new treatments or therapies may cause major savings in Medi-Cal or in other health care programs. The state also gets a cut of any invention-related income resulting from the research. So if you are a researcher, and you invent a new thing using this grant money and then license or sell your invention, the state gets a cut of the profit. In the past the income from this has been negligible, but it could be different in the future.
Universities rely heavily on grant funding of this type, and it provides a good counter to privately funded investment and research done by large pharmaceutical corporations or other for-profit medical institutes. In addition, advances in healthcare usually provide a net financial benefit in the long term. Supporting research into major conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s also seems like a good idea.
Prop 15: Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property
This is one of two propositions that seek to modify how property taxes are assessed in CA.
Here’s a quick primer on property tax. Most of this info was distilled from this webpage (https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/tax/property-tax-primer-112912.aspx):
CA property tax is weird and INCREDIBLY complicated. When you buy a home (or business property), you pay a property tax of 1.1%. This then increases by 2% each year, regardless of the value of your home. So, if you buy a $100,000 home, your property tax is $1,100. Now if your property values go up and your home is now worth $150,000, your property tax does not go up proportionally. It just ticks up 2%. So the law treats the $150,000 home as if it was worth $102,000. Got it? Now, if you are over 55 or disabled, or were a victim of a natural disaster and you move into a LESS expensive home, your property taxes don’t go up. So if you are over 55 and you bought your house 30 years ago for $100,000, it might be worth $400,000 now. But if you move into a home worth $250,000, your property taxes won’t go up, they still use the calculation from your old house.
This property tax gets collected by the county government, who then allocates percentages of this back down to local governments who use it to fund things like schools. The counties themselves take a cut of this tax as well, to do county-wide projects. This means that the amount of property tax revenue given to cities and school districts varies widely. Some school districts and cities receive several times the amount as others. There are some examples of this, but they are about 10 years old, so I don’t know how relevant they are currently.
It is worth noting that school funding is based mostly on state income tax revenue, distributed to schools based on a complex formula that takes into account things like English-Language learning or other things to try to give more money to schools that serve under-served students.
Got all that? Great. Lets get to the actual prop.
What does this prop do? This changes the rules for some commercial property, not homes (that’s Prop 19!). Right now, commercial property is taxed at 1.1% at the time of purchase, and then increased by 2% every year thereafter. This rule changes it so that property is instead taxed based on actual value, rather than the 2% increase. Doing this is estimated to raise between $6.5 and $11.5 billion per year, given to local governments. It also lowers taxes on business equipment by $500,000. This means that some small businesses might actually see a tax savings.
Importantly, some businesses are exempt. It only applies to businesses with more than $3 million in property, exempting most small businesses. If you have 50 or fewer employees, AND more than $3 million in property, this doesn’t go into effect for you until 2025. It also doesn’t impact farm land, or housing (so landlords are exempt).
While this doesn’t fix CA’s exceptionally strange and convoluted property tax system, it is a move in the right direction. I like that exempts small businesses (so my favorite breweries won’t be harmed). I think exempting farms and housing is a mistake for a bunch reasons, but overall this is a move in the right direction, and I’m frankly surprised I haven’t seen much advertising from corporations opposing this prop.
Prop 16: Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions
In 1996, CA voters changed the California Constitution (Prop 209) to insert a section that banned consideration of “race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin” in public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The important sentence is as follows:
“The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
In this, the important section is “grant preferential treatment to.”
This prevents the state government, hiring of contractors, and importantly state university (Cal States, UCs) admissions, from using race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin, in ANY way. This sets up what might be called “color-blind” policies.
This proposition would repeal this section outright. However, because both the California constitution and the US Constitution contain protections for equal protection, the main impact of this would be allowing the California government to use “race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin” in the state government, hiring of contractors and state university admission.
This would not mandate any form of affirmative action, but would allow for its implementation if the institutions decided to change their practiced.
Some other context: Affirmative action has generally been upheld by the US Supreme Court, declaring that race is something that can be taken into account in university admissions. However, the use of strict quotas has been prohibited.
While there are some concerns with direct affirmative action, including the idea that it doesn’t fully account for the intersection of race and class when applied to elite university admissions, the use of “color-blind” policies is actively harmful, as it preserves a status quo under the guise of fairness. It also perpetuates a myth of meritocracy as an individual trait, and not something that is deeply rooted to historical and institutional legacies marred by racism, sexism and other forms of structural injustice.
Prop 17: Restores Right to Vote after Completion of Prison Term
This is one of three amendments (Props 20 & 25), dealing with California’s prison system.
California currently has a rather robust system of felon re-enfranchisement. It is actually easier to describe who cannot vote in California, than the opposite. If you are currently in State or Federal Prison, on parole from state prison (from a felony conviction), or in a form of transfer between these conditions, you cannot vote. Everyone else can vote. After you finish parole, your voting rights are fully restored. This is markedly different from some other states that either perpetually disenfranchise people with felony convictions, or have other restrictions.
This proposition would make it so that if you were out on parole, you would be able to vote. The only people who would be prevented from voting would be individuals who are actively in state or federal prison. Currently, California, and three other states (New York, and Connecticut) restrict voting rights for people on parole. This would move California in line with the 16 states that restrict voting only to individuals in prison (Maine and Vermont let everyone vote, even if they are in prison.) All state laws can be found here (https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/voter-restoration/felony-disenfranchisement-laws-map )
While California’s prison laws are not as bad as they used to be, especially after the repeal of the three strikes law, it is still worth pointing out the major problems of mass incarceration and its disproportionate effects it has on minority populations. There have been whole books written about California’s prison system, in particular (https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Gulag-Opposition-Globalizing-California/dp/0520242017/). And if you want to talk about power structures entrenched in a system designed to warehouse human beings, please feel free (although I WILL bring up Foucault…) Enfranchisement is a minor aspect of this, and it would only effect 50,000 people in a state of 34 million. But it is still worth doing.
Because I’m a busy grad student with a dissertation to propose, but I still care about you, but just not as much
1:Bonds for Housing Programs
Quick tangent: What is a bond? A bond is a personal loan that individuals give to the state by purchasing them. It is like investing in the state. You buy a CA bond with the promise that the State will pay you back in the future, with a return on investment. These are sold on the open market and therefore are subject to the general fluxuations of the investment market.
Longer explanation: https://www.treasurer.ca.gov/publications/bonds101.pdf
What it does: It provides the state with 4 billion dollars (through the selling of bonds) to build more low income housing, fund a program that gives home loans to veterans, and fund a few other minor projects. There are no new projects here, just continuing or additional funding for existing programs.
2: Bonds for Mental Illness Housing
What it does: It ratifies an existing law, which created a program to help find permanent housing for people with mental illnesses who are homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness. It basically moves money around to help fund bonds with existing mental health money. It doesn’t add any money to anything, it just moves money around to fund a program. The general argument against is that it takes too much money out of the funds that already exist for mental health care and traps it in one specific program.
Endorsement : Yes
3: Bonds for Water Supply
My friend helped write this pretty comprehensive guide to Prop 3, s/o Sarah Diringer! https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/community/2018/10/29/untangling-the-complexities-of-californias-proposition-3-water-bond
4: Children’s Hospital Bonds
What it does: Provides the State with 1.5 billion dollars to create grants that would go to hospitals building facilities to deal with children specifically. Most of this money would go to private non-profit hospitals (72%), but some would go to the University of California hospitals(18%) and 10% to other hospital types. The list of hospitals is quite specific (there are 8 hospitals that would get the 72%), but they are all children-focused hospitals. The money is for “Capital Expenses” so they would have to use the money to build new buildings or facilities or things like that.
5: Property Tax Special Rules
What it does: It changes property tax laws in specific cases and is confusing.
CA property tax is weird. When you buy a home, you pay a property tax of 1.1%. This then increases by 2% each year, regardless of the value of your home. So if you buy a $100,000 home, your property tax is $1,100. Now if your property values go up and your home is now worth $150,000, your property tax does not go up proportionally. It just ticks up 2%. So the law treats the $150,000 home as if it was worth $102,000. Got it? Now, if you are over 55 or disabled, or were a victim of a natural disaster and you move into a LESS expensive home, your property taxes don’t go up. So if you are over 55 and you bought your house 30 years ago for $100,000, it might be worth $400,000 now. But if you move into a home worth $250,000, your property taxes won’t go up, they still use the calculation from your old house. This proposition gets rid of this rule and creates a new rule so that if you buy a MORE expensive house, you pay less in taxes than you would without this prop. If you move into a LESS expensive home, nothing changes.
6: Gas Tax Repeal.
What it does: Repeals the gas tax passed in 2017, which raised the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, and raised 5.1 billion dollars for “transportation funding,” which includes road repairs, improvements, and the like. For context, CA spends about 35 billion on transportation funding per year. A YES vote is to get rid of this tax. A NO vote keeps things the way they are.
7: Daylight Savings
What it does: This would allow the State Legislature to vote on opting out of Daylight Savings time (like Arizona and Hawaii currently do.) Nothing would change immediately, it would just allow the legislature to do this if they want. Because of a law passed 70 years ago, the state legislature has to ask voters to give them this power.
8: Dialysis Regulation.
What it does: There are a number of for-profit Dialysis centers that exist in the state and have an estimated annual revenue of $3 billion. Dialysis is a process that mimics kidney function when an individual has kidney failure. It is an outpatient procedure that patients must undergo regularly to survive, generally about 3 times a week. This bill would regulate this industry and prevent them from charging more that 110% percent of cost for this procedure and establishes regulations and enforcement mechanisms. Currently these organizations can charge whatever they want for this procedure. This may lower healthcare costs generally and medical and medicare costs more specifically.
9: Not on the ballot! Don’t worry about it!
10: Rent Control
What it does: It changes the current law to allow local governments to establish their own rent control standards. Currently, rent control can only be established by the State government, and any buildings built after 1995 cannot be rent-controlled. This would get rid of these restrictions and allow local governments to decide if they want to establish rent control on their own. Some cities may expand rent control, others may not. It would be up to each city to decide.
11: Ambulance Workers On-Call Regulations
What it does: Currently, hourly workers are entitled to take breaks without being on-call, or interrupted. This would make ambulance workers exempt from this law. They could then be required to be “on-call” during lunch or rest breaks, essentially keeping them on-call for their entire shift. Currently this is in a bit of a grey area, as most ambulance companies do require that their employees be on-call for their whole shift. However, some employees have sued and said that this violates labor law. The CA Supreme Court has decided that private security workers cannot be on-call for their entire shift, but they have not ruled on ambulance employees. This would undercut these court cases and create a specific exemption.
12: New Standards for Farm Animals.
What it does: Changes standards for farm animals, and modifies cage requirements for chickens, pigs and calves raised for veal. Currently the law says that the animals must be able to turn around freely, stand up, lie down and fully extend their limbs. This would modify the law to specific space requirements to “cage-free” housing for egg-laying hens (which is about 1 cubic foot of space per hen, but without any specific cages, 24 square feet of space for breeding pigs, and 43 square feet for calves.
Statewide Office Endorsements:
Governor: Gavin Newsom
Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Board of Equalization (3rd district): Tony Vazquez
Senator: Dianne Feinstein
Representative: Vote for your local Democrat
Carol Corrigan: No
Leondra Kruger: yes
The following may not apply depending on your specific district:
Tip: If you google the names of the justices, you can easily find out who appointed them and use that to make your decision. It is a useful shortcut.
Victoria Chaney: No
Helen Bendix: yes
Elwood Lui: Yes
Victoria Chavez: No
Luis Lavin: Yes
Halim Dhanidina: Yes
Anne Egerton: Yes
Long Beach Ballot Measures:
Proposition 61: STATE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PURCHASES. PRICING STANDARDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This is perhaps the most confusing and most expensive proposition on the ballot and further research into this proposition only makes it more complicated.
In a nutshell, this proposition wants to tie the prices that California pays for prescription drugs, for things like MediCal, to the VA’s announced price for drugs.
The VA administration negotiates and publishes the maximum prices that it will pay for prescription drugs. Note, this isn’t the amount it actually pays, but what it has decided is the maximum allowable price. This proposition would adopt this pricing structure for drugs purchased by the state of California. This would not affect drug prices for individuals who do not get prescriptions through MediCal or some other State-provided healthcare.
The analysis of this by various newspapers and other agencies make it more complicated. There is no indication that this would actually have the desired effect. Drug companies could simply increase the price that they change the VA and therefore charge California more. Also, California may be paying less than these prices already and that price would go up. This also helps explain why there is a major division between people who have come out in favor of the proposition (Bernie Sanders, among others) and those who have come out against it, (basically every newspaper in the state.)
All in all this is a very complicated proposition, with no real good solution.
While I am no ally of the pharmaceutical industry, and cutting into their profits is something I am very much in favor of, I think I will be voting NO on this one. This isn’t a NO vote because I oppose the sentiment but because I think this is something that fundamentally shouldn’t be left to the proposition system. This is the type of issue that is best handled by a legislative body and bureaucratic system analysing the issues and figuring out the best solution. However, I can see why someone would vote yes on this proposition and I don’t really buy the argument that drug companies would raise prices with the VA just to get back at California. I just think the issue is too complex for a proposition. That said, all the polling suggests that it will pass.
Proposition 62: DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 66: DEATH PENALTY. PROCEDURES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
I am going to talk about Prop 62 and 66 as a pair because, as there are no restrictions on the propositions that can be proposed, occasionally we get propositions that are contradictory.
Prop 62 eliminates the death penalty, making the maximum sentence in California life in prison, while Prop 66 essentially fast-tracks the implementation of the death penalty by limiting the number of appeals and removing the requirement for some appeals to go directly to the California Supreme Court.
Prop 62 would also apply retroactively, anyone on death row would automatically be re-classified to life in prison.
Since these propositions are contradictory if both of them pass, the proposition that got the most overall votes would go into effect.
I will be voting YES on Prop 62, and NO on Prop 66.
I believe that there are moral, economic and institutional reasons to be against the death penalty. I believe that killing a person is fundamentally immoral regardless of who is doing the killing, who is getting killed and why. In addition the economic cost of instituting the death penalty is prohibitive and this would fix that problem. Yes it does cost the state to keep someone in prison for life, but it is actually less than having and instituting the death penalty. While Prop 66 does address an element of this problem through its limitation of appeals, it does not fully mitigate the economic cost. Also institutionally, the burden of proof required to ensure that you are not executing an innocent person is prohibitive and I would rather get rid of the death penalty altogether than risk executing an innocent person.
Proposition 63: FIREARMS. AMMUNITION SALES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This proposition adds a number of additional elements to California’s regulation of firearms. Currently California has regulations in place that prevent felons, individuals who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, and individuals with restraining orders against them, from owning firearms. In addition to this the state mandated background checks and maintains a list of gun owners in order to facilitate the removal of firearms from individuals who become prohibited from owning them.
There are also regulations on ammunition as well. These regulations essentially mirror the restrictions on firearms.
This proposition would increase the regulations. It would require individuals to purchase a permit from the state in order to purchase ammunition, this permit would be for a four-year period and could cost up to $50. This permitting process would allow the state to ensure that individuals who are on the prohibited list are not purchasing ammunition.
In addition to this, it would eliminate some of the grandfather clauses that exist regarding large-capacity magazines. Individuals have not been allowed to purchase large-capacity magazines in the state since 2000. However there are a number of grandfather clauses that allow individuals who have purchased magazines prior to 2000 to keep them. This proposition would get rid of these clauses.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. We accept state regulation on nearly everything that we do in our lives, from the houses we live in, to the cars we drive to the food and water we eat and drink. Thinking that firearms are exempt from this seems absurd. In addition, the classic Founder’s argument regarding the Bill of Rights does not apply. The Founders clearly intended the Bill of Rights to only apply to the Federal Government and this is a state measure. The only reason the Bill of Rights applies to the states is through an active judicial process called incorporation. So it is inconsistent to think that we should follow only what the Founders think and that the Bill of Rights should apply to the states and that state governments must follow it.
Proposition 64: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This one is pretty straightforward. It legalizes marijuana for recreational use in the state of California. If this law passes you would be able to: purchase marijuana at a state licensed facility, have up to 28.5 grams of marijuana on your person at any one time, grow up to six plants in your home, give up to 28.5 grams away to any other adult. This proposition defines adult as an individual above the age of 21. The state would also collect a tax on the sale of marijuana which would go to youth programs, environmental cleanup and inhibited driving prevention. It would also make anyone who was previously committed of a marijuana-based offense eligible for resentencing.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. It is pretty clear that the legalization of marijuana has positive effects on states, at least economically speaking. The cases of Colorado and Washington, among others have proven that this is viable and public opinion has shifted to the extent where the role of marijuana as a “hard drug” does not really apply anymore.
Proposition 65: CARRYOUT BAGS. CHARGES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 67: BAN ON SINGLE–USE PLASTIC BAGS. REFERENDUM.
These propositions are related, but also in contradiction so I will deal with them as a pair.
Proposition 65 requires that stores charge a fee of 10 cents per bag and directs the use of this money to environmental issues. Proposition 65 does not ban single-use plastic bags outright, but merely posits a probationary 10 cent charge on their use.
Proposition 67 does ban single-use plastic bags, mandating their replacement with either multi-use bags or easily recyclable alternative. It also mandates a cost of 10 cents per bag,but allows the individual retailer to keep these fees. However this proposition is tricky because California already has a law on the books that prevents the use of single-use plastic bags and this proposition is worded in such a way that a no vote on Prop 67 can be interpreted as a repeal of this existing law.
Let me attempt to make this a bit clearer:
There are a number of scenarios that could occur.
Scenario 1) Prop 65 and Prop 67 both pass: Plastic bags would be banned and the revenue from the sale of bags would be allocated to whichever prop got more votes.
Scenario 2) Prop 65 and 67 both fail. No ban on plastic bags and the existing law preventing their use would probably be overturned, but it would take a court decision to be final.
Scenario 3) Prop 65 passes and Prop 67 fails. There would then be no statewide law passed, but the prohibitive fee would still exist and the money would be given to environmental agencies.
Scenario 4) Prop 65 fails and Prop 67 passes. All the provisions of Prop 67 go into effect, a plastic bag ban, but the stores get to keep the revenues of the 10 cent fee.
This is like a perfect example of a real life game theory, prisoner’s dilemma problem. By attempting to get the proposition you want to pass, (Prop 67) you endanger the entire thing. I will say, whatever happens, this is going to be something that people who study voting behavior are going to write books on from years to come.
Therefore my action, and my advice is to vote YES on BOTH propositions and hope that Prop 65 gets more votes. While this is a less than ideal solution, it is important for this ban to pass overall and voting yes on both gives the greatest chance of this happening.
Proposition 56: CIGARETTE TAX TO FUND HEALTHCARE, TOBACCO USE PREVENTION, RESEARCH, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
This proposition adds a $2 excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Currently the tax on tobacco products is set at $.87 per pack, and this would raise it to $2.87 per pack. These is also a calculation that would apply this tax at a similar rate to “other tobacco products” like cigars, chewing tobacco and stuff like that. This would also apply this tax to the sale of e-cigarettes. Currently there is no excise tax on e-cigarettes, they only pay sales tax. This would classify e-cigarettes as “other tobacco products,” and apply the taxes to them. The bulk of the revenues from this tax are to be spend on healthcare, but some of the money will be spent on school programs to prevent smoking and other administrative things.
However, it is clear that the goal of this proposition is to get people to stop smoking, rather than to raise revenue.
This one is tough. On the one hand, this is a regressive tax. Smokers tend to be low income so punishing them by drastically increasing the cost of cigarettes seems unfair. However, the cigarette industry has been a sleazy industry for essentially its entire existence, so I don’t feel to bad about helping to put them out of business. Also I think that e-cigarettes should be considered cigarettes as well. All in all I think that the positives of this outweigh the negatives so I will be voting YES.
Proposition 57: CRIMINAL SENTENCES. PAROLE. JUVENILE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AND SENTENCING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
Some background on this. In 2011 there was a class action lawsuit brought against the state of California charging that the state's overcrowded prisons was a violation of the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment.) This case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the state of California and ordered that the state reform its prison system.
The state basically dragged its feet over this issue, requiring a revision of the court case forcing California to deal with this problem. Since then we have passed a number of propositions and other laws including a revision of the “three strikes” law, and another proposition encouraging rehabilitation for drug offenders rather than prison time.
This proposition continues this effort by streamlining the parole process and making it harder to charge juveniles as adults.
This proposition allows individuals who have committed nonviolent felonies to come up for parole easier. Sometimes individuals serve time in prison for multiple crimes committed at the same time, these crimes get designated the “primary offense” and the “secondary offense.” This would allow individual to come up for parole after serving the entirety of their time for the “primary offense.”
This also makes it more difficult to try a juvenile as an adult as it would require a hearing in juvenile court prior to transferring them to an adult court. Relatively few juveniles get tried in adult court a year (roughly 600) but this would make it more difficult to do.
The overcrowding of the California prison system has been a major problem in California for a long time. I will be voting YES on this proposition because I think the financial impacts are worth it, we spend almost $70,000 per year, per inmate in the state of California. Also, it is important to note that this proposition doesn’t make it any easier to get parole, it just makes it easier to come up for parole.
Proposition 58: ENGLISH PROFICIENCY. MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This proposition also needs some context. Currently bilingual education in the state is restricted. If a student wants to participate in bilingual education their parent needs to sign a specific waiver that allows them to do so. This would change this restriction so that a student can participate in bilingual education without such input. This is because in 1998 we passed a proposition (Prop 227) that required all non-English speakers to take a rudimentary English class before being enrolled in mainstream education. As KPCC reports, this means that students who could read and write at a 5th grade level in Spanish, were forced out of their classrooms for an entire year to learn kindergarten-level English. This happens because Spanish speaking parents are often hesitant to sign a waiver for their child to allow them into bilingual classes.
This proposition would get rid of this requirement and expand bilingual education.
I am going to be voting YES on this proposition. I think expanding access to bilingual education will have a positive effect on all children, not just the children that are learning English. Prop 227, which this repeals represents an outdated notion of language and how we should be embracing our diverse community.
Proposition 59: CORPORATIONS. POLITICAL SPENDING. FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS. LEGISLATIVE ADVISORY QUESTION.
This one is a bit odd. It is an advisory question, meaning that it does not require anyone to do anything. It basically encourages the state legislature of California to support a Federal Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court Decision. This is the decision that famously declare that corporations were to be treated as individuals for the sake of political fundraising, essentially creating Super PACs. However, there is no Constitutional amendment that has been proposed and there is no indication that there will be. This is basically a poll to encourage members of the State Legislature to support efforts to overturn the decision.
While this proposition is essentially pointless, I don’t like the Citizen’s United decision and I think that it is one of the more harmful Supreme Court decisions in recent history, so if this proposition sends a message that the State of California is unhappy with this decision, I’m all for it. I’m voting YES.
Proposition 60:ADULT FILMS. CONDOMS. HEALTH REQUIREMENTS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Ah, now we are getting into the controversial ones. This bill requires adult film actors to use condoms in their films. It also involves some other minor requirements regarding testing and vaccinations for the prevention of STI’s, but the condom issue is the big one. There is a minor fiscal requirement that goes along with this that might cost the state $1 million per year for enforcement, but that cost might change.
I think passing this proposition would be a bad idea. What would happen if we passed this proposition is that the adult film industry would not comply and would simply move elsewhere. We have already seen this happen when LA County passed a similar proposition in 2014. The adult film industry simply moved inland to the San Fernando Valley. This would just drive a multi-billion dollar industry out of the state. It's a bad idea and wouldn’t even have the desired effect if it passed. I’m voting NO.
Proposition Guide 2016:
Welcome to another edition of my proposition guide. The goal of this guide is to try to explain the propositions that are on the California ballot in a way that isn’t excessively detailed, but also provides more information than some of the more concise guides that you see online. Also, if you are reading this, you probably know me personally, so it is a bit easier to take advice from someone you know rather than a random person on the internet. Also, this is like my job and stuff, so I better know what is going on.
Initial Question: What is a Proposition and why should I care?
A proposition (also called a referendum or an initiative) is California’s foray into the realm of direct democracy. Without getting too technical the basic idea is that in California we have this crazy idea that says that we can directly influence public policy. This can take three forms. We, the people of California, can either vote on a brand new law or amendment to the California Constitution, vote on a change to the California Constitution that was proposed by our state legislature, or veto a law that our state legislature passed. What this means in practice is that we get a direct say in the laws that are made in California. This is perhaps the most direct expression of democracy that you are going to get in a modern representational democratic system. If we vote on a proposition and it passes, it becomes a law. There are no additional restrictions. Propositions just become laws. This means there is no excuse to not vote in California! This is entirely removed from party politics, it goes against any sort of partisan bickering that goes on in Sacramento. It is your direct line to getting things done in California.
So let's get into it.
This year there are 17(!) propositions on the ballot. That can be a bit overwhelming, but stick with me. We can do this!
Proposition 51: SCHOOL BONDS. FUNDING FOR K–12 SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE FACILITIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 51 is a law that provides funding for K-12 schools and Community Colleges. This law provides for selling $9 billion in bonds to pay for education. Most of this money would go to K-12 schools ($7 billion) for “new construction, modernization, career technical education facilities, and charter school facilities,” with most of the money going towards new construction and modernization. The additional $2 billion would go to community colleges for essentially facility improvements and construction.
The way that the State would fund this is through bonds. Bonds are essentially stock that you can buy in the government. As an individual, you buy a bond and then the government ensures that you get a rate of return on your bond. This rate fluctuates with the market but averages about a 5% rate of return. With this in mind, this measure would cost about $17.6 billion over 35 years. The state would pay 500 million a year, or .5% of current annual budget for this.
Personal Opinion: I will be voting YES on this proposition. Being an educator, and someone who is very tied to our community college system I think we are very due for some infrastructural spending in this area. Generally speaking, education spending usually has a very advantageous rate of return with every dollar spent on education being repaid many times over through increased production or increased wages. I think this is a good deal and should be approved. My only hesitation is the funding for charter schools, which I do not believe in. However they are almost an afterthought, receiving only 500 million total, so the benefits outweigh the costs in this case.
Proposition 52: MEDI‐CAL HOSPITAL FEE PROGRAM. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
This proposition essentially takes an existing law that is scheduled to expire on January 1st, and extends it in perpetuity. It is common for laws to be written with expiration dates, to be reviewed for effectiveness at a later date.
However, this is a bit confusing because it involves two separate aspects, one related to healthcare and one related to the proposition system as a whole.
In regards to healthcare: Currently private hospitals, which make up ⅔s of all the hospitals in the state, pay a fee to the State to help pay for the federal low income health care agency, known in CA as Medi-cal. Basically this law requires the private hospitals to chip in. This proposition makes this fee permanent.
But the state doesn’t use all of this money for Medi-Cal, some of this money is diverted for different things. What this bill also requires is that anytime the State wants to divert some of this fee money, they have to pass a proposition. The second half of this law is asking if you want to vote on more propositions.
So, if you want to have private hospitals keep paying these fees for Medi-Cal and you, directly, want control over the state diverting any of these funds, vote yes.
If you don’t want hospitals paying these fees and you don’t want control, vote no.
If you want a different combination of the two...um… well figure out which one is more important and vote that way.
Personal Opinion: While I am generally slightly cold on the proposition system (institutions are great ya’ll), I think the positives of this bill outweigh the negatives. I will be voting YES. Private hospitals benefit from Medi-Cal, so they should help pay for it. Voting on more propositions is inconvenient, but it is how we’ve decided to work in CA.
Proposition 53: REVENUE BONDS. STATEWIDE VOTER APPROVAL. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
This brings up basically the same issue as the last prop. Do you want more propositions or less? This bill requires that any time the state wants to pass a bond measure over $2 billion, it requires a statewide vote.
In other words. If the state wants to sell more than $2 billion in bonds (see Prop 51 for what bonds are) then it has to pass a proposition.
So, if you want more propositions, vote yes.
If you want to let the state legislature figure that stuff out, vote no.
I generally think that the proposition system, especially with regards to budgetary matters, is problematic, so I will be voting NO. I’m not sure I trust the general mass of people more than the state legislature to figure out budget things.
Proposition 54: LEGISLATURE. LEGISLATION AND PROCEEDINGS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
Now we are getting into the fun ones! This is the internet bill prop.
This prop would require the legislature to post any bill on the internet 72 hours before they vote on it. It would also require them to record all legislative proceedings and post those on the internet too. It would cost about $1 million a year.
While I get some of the opposition to this bill, that it might slow down legislation (often simple bills are voted on by “voice vote” where everyone just agrees, and this would make that harder) the $1 million is peanuts to a state like CA and I have heard arguments that it would make some political science research easier and I’m all about that. So I’m voting YES.
Proposition 55: TAX EXTENSION TO FUND EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
So in 2012 we voted on a tax increase on high-income earners, or people who earned over $250,000 a year ( $500,000 for joint filing, $340,000 for head of household). This prop makes that increase permanent. Most of the money goes to schools, or Medi-cal, but that is not set in stone. This goes into the general budget where it is allocated. Basically we voted on a prop in 2012, and this is just continuing the thing we voted on in 2012.
So, if you think our current tax rate on high income earners works well, vote yes.
If you think the tax rate on high income earners should be reduced, vote no.
I am going to be voting YES on this proposition. This tax rate hasn’t drastically impacted California since 2012, so I see no reason why it shouldn’t be continued. In addition to this, my desire for more school funding means that I am opposed to any reduction in this budget.
During the course of my Intro to American Government class we dedicate several days to studying the origins of the Constitution. During this period we spend some time discussing the debate on representation. This debate is the fundamental question of how both individuals and states should be represented and present their wants and needs to the soon-to-be-formed federal government. This gets into the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan and all of the other elements you remember from AP US History but, while interesting, it isn’t the most engaging part of this discussion. What the most interesting part of this debate is the question of how the federal government should treat the slaves. In what way, if any, should slaves be represented in the newly formed federal government?
So, apparently moving 3000 miles away from my grandparents doesn’t exempt me from the crazy.
Here’s the story as I know it.
First, some background.
My grandparents live in a 2 story colonial house in Connecticut. They have a large backyard with a pool, and (for reasons that will be important later) there is a shed in the back corner of the backyard. This is a blue, 10 x 10 shed that houses all of the pool things, including the pool pump and filter, but also holds all of the pool toys, the pool vacuum, and is winter storage for some of the lawn furniture.