Breakdown of every CA proposition on your 2020 ballot

Photo by Carrie Graham

Prop this, prop that, prop what? Knowing what is going on and what to vote for is sometimes difficult when you don’t understand and/or know what is actually on the ballot.

To ease your mind, here is a rundown and description of props that will be in this upcoming ballot.

Prop 14 :

What it is: A measure for approval of a bond to the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which focuses on stem cell research, for $5.5 billion. It would cost the state about $260 million per year over the next 30 years. 

Voting Yes Means: CIRM focuses largely on researching stem cells as a means to cure brain and nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, and damage from strokes.

 It would add an additional 6 members to the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee that oversees ICRM, focused on making stem cell treatments and cures more accessible. 

And finally, it would  establish training programs for undergraduate students and fellowships for graduate students related to advanced degrees and technical careers in stem cell research, treatments, and cures

Voting Against Means: Though stem cell research is valuable, at a time when our economy is already suffering and unemployment and homelessness are rising, the money should be spent on social programs.

Prop 15 :

What It Is: A proposed change to the California State Constitution that would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed on their market value instead of their purchase price. So, if a major developer buys land in a cheap area and raises the property values as a result, they’ll pay more in property taxes. Exceptions will be made for businesses with less than $3 million in holdings in California. It wouldn’t affect residential properties

Voting Yes’s estimated that prop 15 would generate between $6.5-$11.5 billion per year. That money would go in part to K-12 schools and community colleges. It also includes a provision that each school receives at least $100 per full-time student.

Voting Against Means: The primary concerns are that from a business owner’s standpoint, this is an up to nearly $12 billion tax hike, potentially the largest in the state’s history. 

Additionally, there are concerns that it removes taxpayer protections capping property tax costs, and limiting annual increases.

Prop 16 :

A yes vote on prop 16 means approval to repeal prop 209 in the California Constitution.

The passage of prop 209 in 1996 made California the first state to ban race and sex-based Affirmative action,  

Voting Yes Means: Permits government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity

Prop 16 does not alter other state and federal laws guaranteeing equal protection and prohibiting unlawful discrimination.

Voting Against Means: By allowing government entities (including schools), to give preferred treatment to certain groups for the sake of filling a diversity quota, it takes opportunities away from those who may be more qualified or otherwise deserving.

Prop 17 :

What It Is: an amendment to the California constitution that would allow those convicted of felonies who haven’t completed parole to vote

Voting Yes Means: It would increase the number of eligible voters in the state and allows felons reentering society to more fully engaged citizens.

Voting Against Means: Those who are on parole for felonies committed serious, violent crimes. Until they’ve finished their entire sentence, including parole, they shouldn’t have the right to vote restored.

Prop 18 :

What it Is: Prop 18 is an amendment to the California constitution that would; allow 17 year-olds who will be 18 by the next general election to vote in the primary election of that year.

Voting Yes Means: This would allow first-time voters to participate in the fall election cycle rather than jumping in partway through.

Voting Against Means: 17 year-olds are still legally children, the large majority of which still live at home with parents or guardians. As a result, 17-year-olds are more likely to be pressured by those they live with on how to vote, diminishing the integrity of the election process.

Prop 19 :

What it is: Permits homeowners who are over 55, severely disabled, or whose homes were destroyed by wildfire or disaster, to transfer their primary residence’s property tax base value to a replacement residence of any value, anywhere in the state.

It also Limits tax benefits for certain transfers of real property between family members,.expands tax benefits for transfers of family farms, and allocates most resulting state revenues and savings (if any) to fire protection services and reimbursing local governments for taxation-related changes.

Voting Yes Means: Limits the amount of property tax charged to those who are disabled, elderly, or affected by wildfires so they have more freedom to move in instances of lost housing, or housing that isn’t accessible or requires too much work to maintain.

Voting Against Means: As with prop 15, there are concerns that this proposition overrules voter-approved taxpayer protections put in place by prop 13.

Prop 20 :

What it is: Prop 20 limits access to parole programs established for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense by eliminating eligibility for certain offenses.

Additionally, it changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program, allowing prosecutors to request a review before a felon is released, rather than an automatic release at the end of their prison term.

It also authorizes felony charges to be filed for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950.

And last, it would require people convicted of specified misdemeanors such as shoplifting and drug possession, as well as other crimes like domestic abuse and prostitution with a minor to submit to the collection of DNA samples for state database.

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Voting Yes Means: Prop 20 reclassifies several offenses from “nonviolent” to “violent” such as assault with a deadly weapon, date rape, and sex with minors, while excludes them from the list of offenses eligible for parole.

It would also require that victims be informed when their assailant is released, which could offer protection to domestic violence survivors, among others.

Voting Against Means:  Prop 20 will increase the population in already overfilled prisons at the expense of tens of millions of tax dollars. Also, as it would allow theft of over $250 to be charged as a felony, it will disproportionately affect, Black Latino, and low-income citizens. 

Prop 21 :

What it is: This measure would allow local governments to enact rent control, limiting the ability of landlords in certain situations to increase the rent by more than a set amount. 

Voting Yes Means: By limiting how much landlords can increase the rent during a given time, it limits the number of families that will be shifted into homelessness by a large rent increase.

Voting Against Means: Prop 20 limits the amount that rent can be increased but does nothing to address already overpriced rental costs. It also fails to address the lack of affordable housing, again limiting rental increases, but not mandating the construction of more low and middle-income housing.

Prop 22 :

What it is: this ballot initiative aims to define app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors and adopt labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies.

And if prop 22 doesn’t pass, companies like Uber and Lyft may make good on threats to, at least temporarily, pull their operations in California and offer significantly fewer positions when they return.

Voting Yes Means: Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Doordash would be required to offer their drivers healthcare based on the number of hours they work and pay them at least minimum wage for the time they’re logged on.

They would also have to offer workplace injury insurance and accidental death insurance. 

Leaving drivers as independent contractors may also leave them more flexibility than being classified as an employee.  

Voting Against Means: Prop 22 doesn’t offer drivers protections for things like sick leave, and worker’s compensation, allowing these major companies to save money at the expense of their drivers.

Prop 23 :

What it is: This ballot initiative would require chronic dialysis clinics to: have an on-site physician while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections; obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic; and not discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care.

Voting Yes Means: Prop 23 prevents dialysis clinics from closing without notice or from discriminating against patients based on insurance, increasing and maintaining access to those in rural or low-income areas. It also requires infections caused by the procedure to be tracked so problems can be more easily identified.

Voting Against Means: Because it would require a doctor to be onsite at every clinic when not currently required, “would increase clinic costs by hundreds of millions annually, putting half of all clinics at risk of closure.”

Prop 24 :

What it is: This ballot initiative will expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws, including provisions to allow consumers to direct businesses to not share their personal information; remove the time period in which businesses can fix violations before being penalized; and create the Privacy Protection Agency (PPA)to enforce the state’s consumer data privacy laws.

Voting Yes Means: Both the establishment of the PPA and the removal of time for businesses to fix offenses before being fined, it will create more accountability for companies to actually follow the recently established (2018) consumer privacy laws. 

Voting Against Means: “Proposition 24 asks you to approve an Internet ‘pay for privacy’ scheme. Those who don’t pay more could get inferior service—bad connections, slower downloads and more pop up ads. It’s an electronic version of freeway express lanes for the wealthy and traffic jams for everyone else.”

Prop 25 :

What it is: Risk assessments would replace the current cash bail system. Assessments would categorize suspects as low risk, medium risk, or high risk. 

Suspects deemed as having a low risk of failing to appear in court and a low risk to public safety would be released from jail, while those deemed a high risk would remain in jail, with a chance to argue for their release before a judge. 

Those deemed a medium risk could be released or detained, depending on the local court’s rules. .

Voting Yes Means: This would allow low-risk offenders who are also low-income to get back to their lives sooner rather than being stuck in jail simply due to an inability to pay. Alternately, it could keep those who are a danger to the public but have the means to make bail behind bars.

Passage of Prop 25 would make California the first state to abandon cash bail.

Voting Against Means: It strips Californian’s of their right to bail, instead shifting release before trial to an automated process. It also could prove damaging to minorities who are more frequently assessed as community “risks” based on appearance.


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