Summary of CA 2020 Propositions

Originally, I formatted this summarization to share with classmates in my Environmental Studies course (our professor has forums set up to talk about this incredibly important election, super neat!) However, I thought I should also include it here on my blog to share with others who aren’t in my class.


In California, 12 statewide ballot propositions are on the ballot for November elections in 2020 (numbered 14 through 25).

The “nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture” CalMatters has a very good abridged summary of the propositions on the CA ballot, linked here. It’s also been translated into Spanish, in case you or your relatives would prefer to read en español.

For some reason, they don’t list it in chronological order (annoying, at least for me) so I listed it in order with its’ general summary below. Hope this helps you as it helps me!!!

Before we get started: please, please register to vote–the deadline to register is October 19th!

Here’s the gist behind each proposition, as per CalMatters

Prop. 14: Borrowing for stem cell research – Borrow $5.5 billion to fund stem cell research… In 2004, voters passed Proposition 71 to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The institute exists to channel state money toward stem cell research. Prop 71 also let the state borrow $3 billion to do that. That pot of cash is now almost empty.

Prop. 15: Split roll – Tax some commercial property based on its market value, rather than the price at which it was purchased. This would raise property taxes on many large businesses across the state, increasing funding for schools and local government. In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, placing a cap on property taxes, kicking off a nationwide anti-tax revolt and placing city and county budgets in a generation-spanning straitjacket… This initiative attempts to divide and conquer that political problem by repealing the property tax protections only for commercial landlords with more than $3 million in holdings. If this measure passes, those landowners would have to make tax payments based on the current value of their properties — a tax hike for most — resulting in an estimated $6.5 to $11.5 billion more for cities, counties and school districts.

Prop. 16: Ending the ban on affirmative action – Allow schools and public agencies to take race and other immutable characteristics into account when making admission, hiring or contracting decisions. In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 209, a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action at state institutions. The result was an immediate drop in Black and Latino enrollment at the state’s elite public universities. Some civil rights organizations have been trying to repeal Prop. 209 ever since.

Prop. 17: Restoring the right to vote to people on parole – Allow Californians who are currently on parole to vote… there are some 40,000 Californians who are not in prison but unable to legally cast a ballot. But as with any criminal justice debate, this is also one about race. According to an estimate from 2016, two thirds of people on parole in the state are Latino or Black.

Prop. 18: Letting (some) 17 year olds vote (some of the time) – Allow 17-year-old U.S. citizens to vote in a primary and special election as long as they will turn 18 by the subsequent general election… Democratic legislators have tried to do this six times before; this is the first to make the ballot.

Prop. 19: Property tax breaks and closing the “Lebowski loophole” – Allow homeowners who are over 55, disabled or victims of natural disaster to take a portion of their property tax base with them when they sell their home and buy a new one. It would also limit the ability of new homeowners who inherit properties to keep their parents’ or grandparents’ low property tax payments. Most of the additional money raised would go into a state fire response fund… In 2018, the California Association of Realtors put a measure on the ballot allowing older or disabled homeowners to keep a portion of their Prop. 13 tax break. The Realtors argued that the current property tax rules disincentivize longtime homeowners from moving, “trapping” empty-nesters in houses that are too big for them and locking out new families. But because the measure would cost schools, counties and cities, it was opposed by organized labor and local government groups — and failed by 20 points. The Realtors tried again this year, but with an added fiscal sweetener.

Prop. 20: Rolling back Brown-era “leniency” – Allow prosecutors to charge repeat or organized petty theft as a felony, require probation officers to seek tougher penalties for those who violate the term of their parole three times, and exclude those who have been convicted of domestic violence and certain nonviolent crimes from early parole consideration… In 2011, California legislators reduced punishments for parole violators. In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, recategorizing some non-violent crimes as misdemeanors. In 2016, voters passed Proposition 57, giving inmates convicted of certain non-violent offenses a shot at early release. This ballot measure would partially undo each of those.

Prop. 21: Rent Control (Again) –Allow cities to introduce new rent control laws, or expand existing ones… Polling from [the 2018 election season] suggested that California voters generally liked rent control as a concept, but worried about the specifics of the proposal. Accordingly, this new initiative makes a few tweaks. Under this one, cities would be allowed to apply new rent control ordinances only to homes that are at least 15 years old. And it exempts single-family homes owned by landlords with no more than two properties.

Prop. 22: Self-employment for ride-hail and other app-drivers – Turn “app-based” drivers into independent contractors, exempting companies such as Lyft and Uber from standard wage and hour restrictions. It would also guarantee these drivers an earnings floor, a stipend to purchase health insurance and other minimum benefits… In the months since [Assembly Bill 5], all attempts at legislative compromise have fizzled, California’s Attorney General has sued Uber and Lyft for violating the new law and California regulators declared their drivers to be employees. As a last-ditch effort, the various companies implicated have poured $110 million — and counting — to push a ballot measure that would simply exclude their drivers from the law. 

Prop. 23: Regulating dialysis clinics – Require dialysis clinics to have at least one physician on site at all times and to report patient infection data to California health officials… DaVita Kidney Care and Fresenius Medical Care own the majority of the for-profit dialysis clinics in the state. For years, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers union has been at war with them.

Prop. 24: Stronger consumer privacy laws (again) – Strengthen California’s already strongest-in-the-nation consumer privacy law and establish a California Privacy Protection Agency… Along with setting up a state agency tasked with enforcing state privacy law, the measure would beef up financial penalties for violators and allow consumers to demand that personal information not be shared at all, rather than simply not sold.

Prop. 25: Ditch or keep cash bail – Ask voters to either approve or strike down a state law that banished money bail from the state criminal justice system… the bail bond industry mounted a campaign to put the question [of ending cash bail in California] on the ballot as a referendum. Voters will vote either “Yes” to keep the state law and end cash bail for good, making California the first state to do so, or “No” to keep the bail system.

On social media you can only find posts that cover a select few propositions. I hope seeing all of their summaries together, in chronological order, helps you understand these propositions as much as it helps me.

(via @ashlukadraws)

I won’t tell you how exactly to vote, but I do ask to keep your vote as compassionate and intersectional as possible. You should always vote in the interest of yourself–and more than likely, you have more in common with (or are directly part of) the many marginalized communities of the working class than giant corporate and/or political figureheads.

For example, Prop. 20 is extremely insidious and underhanded. Many political figures and businesses back it; they say to vote Yes, to protect domestic violence victims… however, there is additional agendas in Prop. 20 that is more harmful than helpful. Below is a tweet that’s against it, and lists some reasons why to vote ‘No’ on Prop. 20.

Of course, please research more into these props to come to your own informed voting decision! When researching, it’s important to know who is backing it — what entities or organizations, large and small, are supporting this proposition (or lobbying against it)? These are questions you must ask to get a clear picture on what each Proposition hopes to achieve. Remember, that if it’s meant to do more harm to the people than good, the oppressors who’d benefit from it will try their best to pass it off as beneficial and ‘good’.

Thanks for reading, and please, please, please: VOTE.

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