Let’s make some new rules for California gig workers!
Let’s get back to the old rules when it comes to using race and ethnicity to admit or reject students at California universities!
Let’s tweak the living heck out of the current rules that define the mother of all California tax laws, the 1978 version of Prop 13!
These are just a few of the dozen proposals that California voters will approve or reject in the Nov. 3 general election. Others would lower the voting age by a few months in primary elections, expand consumer privacy protection, change cash bail and give cities more clout regarding rent control, among other things.
It’s a lot to consider. And given that mail-in ballots go out in early October, it might be time to look hard at what each proposition is about.
Here’s a primer:
Proposition 14: Stem Cell Research Institute Bond
Vote yes for this and state taxpayers will be on the hook for $5.5 billion in bonds aimed at reviving the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), a program created in 2004 to boost stem cell research.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 14
A vote against it would save money, but it might kill CIRM. The 16-year-old program ran out of its initial funding last year and it hasn’t taken on new research since last summer, according to the state.
Stem cells, if you’re wondering, are used in medical research on everything from nerve disorders and blindness to tooth decay.
Prop. 14 would create some rules for how CIRM spends money going forward. And at least $1.5 billion would be used for research on age-related issues such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia, among other things.
Supporters say keeping CIRM alive could be key to future medical breakthroughs.
Opponents note that federal limits on spending for stem-cell research — the reason why California voters were asked to fund CIRM in the first place — no longer exist.
Proposition 15: Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding
A yes vote here would represent a big change in California, essentially creating two distinct tracks (“split roll”) – one for most commercial buildings and another for residential dwellings – in our famed Proposition 13 property tax code.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 15
Under Prop. 15, the tax rate on most commercial and industrial properties would be based on the building’s market value, not its purchase price. Exceptions would be made for buildings used in agriculture and for buildings owned by individuals or companies with less than $3 million in other assets. Overall, the state estimates it would generate up to $12.5 billion a year in new taxes from the owners of commercial properties.
A no vote would leave California’s Prop. 13 tax rules intact. All structures in California – commercial, industrial, residential – would continue to be taxed as they are now, with annual tax hikes jumping no more than the rate of inflation or 2%, whichever is lower.
Supporters say Prop. 15 would close a loophole that often benefits big businesses at the expense of small businesses, and that the money raised would help offset revenue losses expected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Opponents say it will hurt job creation and make California a less attractive place to do business. Others argue it’s effectively a tax hike at a time when businesses are already struggling.
Proposition 16: Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment
A yes vote on Prop. 16 would make it legal to consider race and gender, among other things, as potentially favorable factors when it comes to making decisions about public employment, public education and public contracting.
Technically, Prop. 16 is a constitutional amendment to repeal Prop. 209, a 1996 law approved by voters that ended the use of affirmative action in California.
Legally, Prop. 16 would reinstate the federal version of affirmative action, which allows for race-based and sex-based preferences in the interest of promoting diversity as long as quotas and other strict mandates aren’t part of any acceptance formula.
Supporters argue that Prop. 16 would be a step to helping undo the results of long-standing race and gender discrimination that have been key to economic and social inequality. They note that most states already follow federal guidelines on affirmative action.
Opponents counter that by saying any law that allows preferences essentially legalizes racism and sexism. Some also argue that Asian students – who currently qualify for University of California schools at roughly twice the rate of other race and ethnic groups – could be unfairly affected by Prop 16.
Proposition 17: Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole
A yes vote for Prop. 17 would make it legal for people to vote while on parole for a felony conviction.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Propositions 17 and 18
Right now, in California, felons can’t vote until after they’ve served both their prison sentence and any parole. And, just so we’re clear, Prop. 17 does not propose letting felons vote while in prison.
Supporters say parolees are in the process of rejoining public life and that voting, much like working and paying taxes, is part of being a member of your community.
Opponents say voting is a right that should not be restored until a felon has completed all of his or her punishment, including parole.
Proposition 18: Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds
A yes vote would make it legal for people who will turn 18 in time for the general election to vote, even while still 17, in that year’s primary.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Propositions 17 and 18
Supporters say the move would boost the number of engaged, informed voters in any election cycle.
Opponents note that people under 18 are children. They also argue that because almost all 17-year-olds still live with their parents their votes might be unfairly influenced.
Proposition 19: Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties
This complicated, grab bag of a proposal would allow older homeowners (ages 55 and up), as well as disabled people and people who’ve lost properties in a natural disaster, to take some of their property tax base with them when they sell a home and buy a new one.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 19
It also would make it harder to keep a low property tax rate while transferring properties between generations.
And, finally, most of the new money generated by these changes would be used to help pay for firefighting.
The details matter. Specifically, Prop. 19 would:
• Bump up from one to three the number of times an older individual can move while keeping their original property tax rate.
• Limit a family’s ability to pass on a low tax rate to properties used as principal residences, and limit the low tax rate to the first $1 million in equity. Right now, a parent or grandparent can bestow their low tax rate while passing on a rental home or vacation property. That feature would be eliminated under Prop. 19.
Supporters say the law will make it easier for older people to move. And supporters in the real estate industry like the idea that it could promote buying and selling of homes.
Opponents say Prop. 19 will result in less money for schools and other public entities funded by property taxes in California. A similar idea – without the firefighting fund – failed in 2018. It also was backed by the home-selling industry.
Proposition 20: Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection
A yes vote for Prop. 20 would add to the state’s list of “wobbler” crimes, violations that currently are misdemeanors but, under this proposal, could be charged as felonies in some circumstances. We’re talking about crimes like organized petty theft, credit card scams and stealing a firearm, among others.
Prop. 20 also would create stiffer penalties for people who violate terms of their parole three times and make it tougher for people convicted of certain crimes – including domestic violence – to be considered for early parole. And, finally, Prop. 20 would require that DNA samples be taken from people convicted of some misdemeanors.
Supporters say some crimes now considered minor have a serious effect on victims and, because of that, warrant tougher penalties.
Opponents argue that harsh sentencing guidelines haven’t prevented crime and that an opposite trend in recent years has made California safer.
Proposition 21: Local Rent Control
A yes vote on Prop. 21 would let cities write new rent control laws for older housing (15 years and older) or expand any rent control rules they already have on the books.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 21
The proposal carves out an exception for single-family homes owned by landlords with no more than two properties. And, while Prop. 21 would wipe out the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Costa-Hawkins) of 1995, it would not change the 7% rent hike limit set by state lawmakers last year.
Supporters say this could make a dent in homelessness and housing unaffordability, two problems that have reached crisis levels in California.
Opponents say rent control doesn’t work as intended and that other rules – including limits on building restrictions – would better address the problems targeted by Prop. 21.
Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies
Do you work for an app like Lyft or Uber? If so, a yes vote on Prop. 22 would make you an independent contractor, same as you were before the passage of AB 5, which took effect last September.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 22
Under Prop. 22, rideshare and delivery companies that depend on armies of gig workers, would not have to pay standard wage and hour restrictions, though they would have to provide an earnings floor and some money to purchase health insurance, among other things.
A no vote on Prop. 22 means existing law – including AB 5 – will apply to all employers.
It’s important to note that Prop. 22 is about people who use their own cars and cell phones as keys to their trade. Independent musicians, writers and others who work independently but don’t use tech platforms as a tool would remain covered by controversial AB 5.
Supporters say Prop. 22 will keep rideshare and delivery services inexpensive.
Opponents say the employers who depend on gig workers have abused that relationship and are simply refusing to pay minimum wage, something all other businesses must do. Others also point out that Prop. 22 does nothing to address the problems created by AB 5, which has led to less work for some traditional independent contractors and financial problems for their employers.
Proposition 23: Dialysis Clinic Requirements
A yes vote on Prop. 23 would mean at least one physician would have to be on site at an operating dialysis clinic. It also would require clinics to report on infections and get health department approval to close. And it would prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on how they pay for the clinic’s services.
SCNG editorial board’s endorsement on Proposition 23
Supporters say the new rules would make it safer for kidney dialysis patients.
Opponents say the new rules would add burdensome costs.
Proposition 24: Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency
A yes vote on Prop. 24 would expand and add to California’s two-year-old law on consumer data privacy and its reuse. Consumers could prohibit companies from sharing their personal information for any reason and shorten the period companies currently are given to fix the problem.
Prop. 24 also would create a Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the new rules.
Some other details in Prop. 24:
• Companies would be limited when collecting data on any consumer younger than 16, and would need permission from a parent or guardian to collect data on consumers younger than 13.
• Companies would have to correct any inaccurate information upon request.
Supporters say Prop. 24 adds teeth to the privacy law that California voters approved in 2018.
Opponents say Prop. 24 doesn’t go far enough, and it would serve as a giveaway to the biggest social media companies.
Proposition 25: Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments
Two years ago, state legislators passed a law (SB 10) to end cash bail in California. A yes vote on Prop. 25 would keep that law in place, replacing cash bail with a risk assessment system that would let people wait for trial at home based on a variety of factors.
A no vote on Prop. 25 would maintain the cash bail system, letting people stay or leave jail while awaiting trial based largely on their ability to pay.
Supporters argue that cash bail is, by definition, an unequal application of justice favoring people with money. They also note that Prop. 25 is a referendum sponsored by the cash bail industry and that its success would pave the way for other industries to simply spend their way around laws they don’t like.
Opponents say the risk assessment system that would replace cash bail is biased and, because it uses computer modeling, is potentially inflexible.
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