Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

There are 12 propositions on the 2020 Presidential General Election Ballot. In addition, there is a local tax initiative. By the time I got to this part of the ballot, I was out of “spoons”. Honestly needed a break before embarking on the research required to figure all of this out.

Proposition 14

This one is “Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative (2020)”. I have no problem with stem cells being used in order to keep people healthy or help those who have currently incurable health conditions to live a healthier life. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) wants $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds.

I see some problems with this proposition. First of all, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine received billions of dollars in 2019. It doesn’t make sense to give them more money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The thing that really bothers me, though, is CIRM wants to use stem cell research for treatments for autism. Something about that seems wrong. People who have autism don’t need to be “cured”. Instead, we need society to be more accepting of people who have autism.

Proposition 14 feels really icky, and I voted NO.

Proposition 15

This one is controversial, and there has been a lot of misinformation spread about it. Some politicians used this proposition to frighten people.

Proposition 15 would amend the California State Constitution to require commercial and industrial properties (except those zoned as commercial agriculture) to be taxed on their market value. Right now, they are being taxed based on their purchase price.

Obviously, this means that a commercial or industrial property that was purchased decades ago is getting away with not paying the amount of taxes that they should be. That’s a big problem, and it affects California’s economy.

Let me make one thing clear: Proposition 15 DOES NOT AFFECT HOMES. It does affect commercial and industrial properties with combined values of $3 million or more. The change from the purchase price level of taxes to the market value level of taxes would be phased in beginning in fiscal year 2022-2023.

If Proposition 15 passes, the money would go public schools, community colleges, and local government services. As a former teacher, I believe we need more money placed in public schools, community colleges, and local government services.

I voted YES on Proposition 15.

Proposition 16

In my opinion, Proposition 16 is a mess because people are intentionally obfuscating what it does and does not do. Don’t attempt to research this one by looking for it on Twitter or Facebook. I tried that, and found way too much misinformation about it. I recommend looking at Ballotpedia instead.

In short, Proposition 16 is an attempt to put back the Affirmative Action Amendment, which was repealed in 1996 when Proposition 209 passed. This changed the California Constitution’s Declaration of Rights with Section 31 which states:

“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.”

Here is some information about Affirmative Action from Britannica:

Affirmative Action is an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women. It began as a remedy to the effects of long-standing discrimination against such groups and has consisted of policies, programs, and procedures that give limited preferences to minorities and women in job hiring, admission to institutions of higher education, the awarding of government contracts, and other social benefits. The typical criteria for affirmative action are race, disability, gender, ethnic origin, and age.

Affirmative action was initiated by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson in order to improve opportunities for African Americans while civil rights legislation was dismantling the legal basis for discrimination. The federal government began to institute affirmative action policies under the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an executive order in 1965. Businesses receiving federal funds were prohibited from using aptitude tests and other criteria that tended to discriminate against African Americans.

Affirmative action programs were monitored by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Subsequently, affirmative action was broadened to cover women and Native Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities and was extended to colleges and universities and state and federal agencies.

By the late 1970s the use of racial quotas and minority set-asides led to court challenges of affirmative action as a form of “reverse discrimination.” The first major challenge was Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5–4) that quotas may not be used to reserve places for minority applicants if white applicants are denied a chance to compete for those places. Although the court outlawed quota programs, it allowed colleges to use race as a factor in making admissions decisions. Two years later a fragmented court upheld a 1977 federal law requiring that 10 percent of funds for public works be allotted to qualified minority contractors…

According to Ballotpedia, Ward Connerly, a member of the University of California Board of Regents, led the campaign behind Proposition 209. “Affirmative Action was meant to be temporary,” wrote Connerly, “It was meant to be a stronger dose of equal opportunity for individuals, and the prescription was intended to expire when the body politic had developed sufficient immunity to the virus of prejudice and discrimination.”

In 2020, Ward Connerly is listed on the official information about the propositions that are on the 2020 Presidential Election ballot as being against Proposition 16. He is involved with a group called Californians for Equal Rights.

Ballotpedia explains what type of Affirmative Action would be allowed if Proposition 16 passed:

Proposition 16 would remove the ban on affirmative action involving race-based or sex-based preferences from the California Constitution. Therefore, federal law would define the parameters of affirmative action. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that race-based affirmative action in higher education and government contracting must be reviewed under strict scrutiny. In the U.S., strict scrutiny is a form of judicial review that requires a law, policy, or program to serve a compelling state interest and be narrowly tailored to address that interest. Courts have ruled that strict racial quotas and racial point systems in higher education admissions are unconstitutional but that individualized, holistic reviews that consider race, when tailored to serve a compelling interest (such as educational diversity), are constitutional.

The group that is for Proposition 16 is called Yes on 16. Here is why they support this proposition:

Our shared values and communities are under attack in America today. White supremacists are on the march, Black people are being shot, Latino immigrants are demonized on a daily basis, COVID-19 is ravaging Native communities, hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise, and many of us fear for our safety because of who we are.

There is something we can do. By supporting Proposition 16, we can push back against Trump and the racism he promotes and build a better future in California. There has never been a more critical time to reinstate affirmative action in California – as we chart a path forward to a stronger economic future for women and communities of color, and to a California where Black lives matter and our systems are just

According to SFGate, those who are in favor of Proposition 16 include: The University of California Board of Regents, Senators Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein, and various Black Lives Matter-related advocacy groups.

SFGate also reported that those who are against Proposition 16 include: A number of Asian American groups and Republicans in the California state Assembly.

I find the argument from Yes on 16 to be way more compelling than the argument from Californians for Equal Rights. Based on the multitude of news articles I have read, and the videos I’ve seen, we definitely do need Affirmative Action.

I voted YES on Proposition 16.

Proposition 17

Proposition 17 is the Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment. The information in the Voters Guide describes it this way:

Restores voting rights upon completion of a prison term to persons who have been disqualified from voting while serving a prison term. Annual county costs: likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars statewide for voter registration and ballot materials. One time state costs: likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for voter registration cards and system.

Ballotpedia explains that Proposition 17 is a constitutional amendment that would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California.

Currently, the California Constitution disqualifies people with felonies from voting until their imprisonment and parole are completed. The ballot measure would amend the state constitution to allow people with felonies who are on parole to vote; therefore, the ballot measure would keep imprisonment as a disqualification for voting but remove parole status.

A YES vote means people on state parole who are U.S. citizens, residents of California, and at least 18 years of age would be able to vote, if they register to vote.

A NO vote means people on state parole would continue to be unable to vote in California.

Those who support Proposition 17 include:

  • Free the Vote CA
  • U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D)
  • State Senators Steven Bradford (D), Holly Mitchell (D), and Scott Weiner (D)
  • Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D), Wendy Carrillo (D), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D), Mike Gipson (D), Ash Kaira (D), Kevin McCarty (D), Kevin Mullin (D), Mark Stone (D), Shirley Weber (D)
  • Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D)
  • California Democratic Party
  • ACLU of California, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, Brennan Center for Justice, League of Women Voters of California

Here is an argument for Proposition 17 from Free The Vote CA:

Nearly 50,000 Californians who have returned home from prison can’t vote even though they are raising families, holding jobs, paying taxes, and contributing to society in every other way. They should be encouraged to reenter society and have a stake in their community, not be punished by having their voting rights denied. Prop 17 will right this injustice and restore voting rights to Californians returning home from prison.

I believe that everyone who is an American citizen, who lives in California, who is age 18 (or older) and who registers to vote should have the right to vote.

I voted YES on Proposition 17.

Proposition 18

Proposition 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”. It is a Legislative Constitutional Amendment.

A YES vote supports this constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections.

A NO vote opposes this constitutional amendment, thereby continuing to prohibit 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections.

Ballotpedia states that as of June 2020, 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., allowed 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in primary elections.

The Official Voter Information Guide says:

Proposition 18 will allow those who will be 18 years of age by the time of the general election to participate in the primary election of that year if they are 17 at the time of the primary. This important election reform will not only allow first-time voters to participate in the full election cycle, but also has the potential to boost youth participation in our elections.

We need youth voices to be represented at the ballot box. Allowing some 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if, and only if, they will be 18 by the time of the general election is a simple way to amplify the voices of young voters throughout California and will lead to a more inclusive election process for our state overall.

California is behind the curve when it comes to this issue. Nearly half of all states in the U.S. already allow 17-year-olds to participate in primaries and caucuses. If an individual plans to participate in a general election as a first-time voter, it is only reasonable that they be afforded the opportunity to shape the choices that appear on the general election ballot by participating in the primary.

Proposition 18 links this 17-year-old participation to the age of majority by requiring that the individual be 18 by the time of the general election.

According to research conducted by the California Civic Engagement Project, in the 2020 primary election in California, youth voters (those between 18 and 24) made up 14.5% of the population eligible to vote, however only about 6% of those who actually voted in the election. Youth are extremely underrepresented in our electoral process despite the fact that they are heavily impacted by the policies created by those elected.

Not only does research indicate that the youth population has the lowest turnout levels of any age demographic, but studies show that voting is habit forming – once an individual votes in an election, they are more likely to do so again. Early involvement in the electoral process for first-time voters should be a high priority for this reason…

People who are 17-years-old are not legally considered to be adults. But, that doesn’t mean they should be treated as though they were five years old. Here’s a quick list of thing that 17-year-olds can do in California without parental consent:

  • No parental involvement required in order to get an abortion
  • Are explicitly allowed to consent to contraceptive services
  • California law permits minors 12 years and older to consent to confidential medical services for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) without parental consent (including the HPV vaccine for the prevention of human papillomavirus)
  • California minors can consent to the hepatitis B vaccine
  • A pregnant minor in California can consent to placing their child up for adoption.
  • Can take the GED test if they are within 60 days of their 18th birthday; are within 60 days of when they would have graduated from high school if they remained in school and followed the usual course of study; or are 17 years of age and have been out of school for at least 60 consecutive days, and provide a letter of request for the test from the military, a postsecondary education institution or a prospective employer.
  • Can get a work permit from their school and can work four hours on school days and eight hours on non-school days or days preceding a non-school day.
  • Can legally sign a lease as a college student without parental permission (but many landlords will require a parent or guardian to guarantee the lease).

From this, it is clear that 17-year-olds are considered able to do plenty of important things in California without parental consent. It makes sense for the 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the next general election to cast a vote in a primary or special election.

I voted YES on Proposition 18.

Proposition 19

Proposition 19 “Allows homeowners who are over 55, disabled, or wildfire/disaster victims to transfer primary residence’s tax base to replacement residence. Changes taxation of family property transfers. Establishes fire protection services fund.

“Fiscal impact: Local governments could gain tens of millions of dollars of property tax revenue per year, probably growing over time to a few hundred million dollars per year. Schools could receive similar property tax gains.”

As you may recall, California had a ton of wildfires this year. Some were sparked by lighting. Others were sparked by power lines, equipment failures, car accidents and campfires. There was a “firenado”. Most of the fires were sparked by humans. Many families lost their homes (and everything in them) and had to start all over again.

Ballotpedia provided the following information:

The ballot measure would change the rules for tax assessment transfers. In California, eligible homeowners can transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same of lesser market value, which allows them to move without paying higher taxes. Homeowners who are eligible for tax assessment transfers are persons over 55 years old, persons with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and hazardous waste contamination.

How would this ballot measure affect inherited properties?

In California, parents or grandparents can transfer primary residential properties to their children or grandchildren without the property tax assessment resetting to market value. Other types of properties, such as vacation homes and business properties, can also be transferred from parent to child or grandparent to grandchild with the first $1 million exempt from re-assessment when transferred.

The ballot measure would eliminate the parent-to-child and grandparent-to-grandchild exemption in cases where the child or grandchild does not use the inherited property as their principle residence, such as using a property as rental house or a second home. When the inherited property is used as the recipient’s principle residence but is sold for $1 million more than the property’s taxable value, an upward adjustment in assessed value would occur. The ballot measure would also apply these rules to certain farms. Beginning on February 16, 2023, the taxable value of an inherited principle residential property would be adjusted each year at a rate equal to the change in the California House Price index.

If this ballot measure passes, the money that comes from it would create the California Fire Response Fund (CFRF) and County Revenue Protection Fund (CRPF). It would require the California Director of Finance to calculate additional revenues and net savings resulting from the ballot measure.

The California State Controller would be required to deposit 75 percent of the calculated revenue to the Fire Response Fund and 15 percent to the County Revenue Protection Fund. The County Revenue Protection Fund would be used to reimburse counties for revenue losses related to the measure’s property tax changes. The Fire Response Fund would be used to fund fire suppression staffing and full-time station-based personnel.

The way I see it, this is a “take from the rich and give to the poor” kind of proposition. It gives people who lost their homes in a fire the ability to transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same or lesser market value. That means the person or family would be able to buy a home without struggling to pay for a higher tax assessment. It gives them time to rebuild.

The proposition also takes away a “loophole” that rich people are using to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. A parent or grandparent who transfers ownership of a home to a child or grandchild – who does not and will not live in that transferred home – is not about making sure the younger person will avoid being homeless. It is simply so the parent or grandparent can pay a lower amount of taxes on that home.

We live in a society, and that means that rich people need to pay their fair share of taxes, too.

I voted YES on Proposition 19.

Proposition 20

According to SFGate, Proposition 20 adds several crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted. It would undo a series of reforms enacted in 2011 and 2016 aimed at reducing California’s prison population.

Ballotpedia explains a YES vote supports this initiative to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies); and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

A NO vote opposes this initiative to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies); and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

Here’s a summary of what sentencing laws this proposition would change (if it passes):

  • Would make specific types of theft and fraud crimes, including firearm theft, vehicle theft, and unlawful use of a credit card, chargeable as misdemeanors OR felonies, rather than misdemeanors.
  • Would establish two additional types of crime in state code – serial crime and organized retail crime – and charge them as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors OR felonies)
  • Would require persons convicted of certain misdemeanors that were classified as wobblers before 2014, such as shoplifting, grand theft, and drug possession, along with several other crimes, including domestic violence and prostitution with a minor, to submit to the collection of DNA samples for state and federal databases.

Proposition 20 is scary. I really don’t like the idea of making people who convicted of a crime before 2014 to now have to submit their DNA to state and federal databases.

I also hate the idea that a person who was convicted of something as non-violent as shoplifting and charged with a misdemeanor before 2014, to suddenly have that charge increased to a felony all these years later. It seems incredibly unfair.

The new categories of crimes that this proposition would add (if it passes) “serial crime” and “organized retail crime” seem to be designed to target protestors who may or may not have “looted” stores during a protest.

Put all of this together, and it sounds like the police in California want to use Proposition 20 to get around the state legislature – who might or might not enact laws that would curtail some of the worst behaviors that (some) police officers have been doing. It also sounds like it gives police more ability to target people that (some police) are already enacting violence on or outright murdering.

The part that would make drug possession a felony is also disturbing. Many people who are convicted of drug possession had a small amount of marijuana on them. In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 which legalized recreational pot. The people who are currently convicted of having a small amount of marijuana on them before Proposition 64 passed should be released. They should not suddenly have their status changed from misdemeanor to felony.

Another really frightening thing about Proposition 20 is that the police are trying to use it to overturn several existing laws that the state legislature is not willing to overturn. It would also overturn a Supreme Court decision. The police don’t have the power to do that.

In 2011, NPR posted an article titled: “High Court Rules Calif. Must Cut Prison Population”. It was written by Nina Totenberg. From the article:

A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to reduce its prison population by some 33,000 prisoners within the next two years.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the high court ruled that severe overcrowding in state prisons has resulted in extreme suffering and even death, a deprivation of the inmates’ rights that violates the Constitution and the 1995 federal Prison Litigation Reform Act, as well.

California’s 33 prisons, designed to house 80,000 inmates, housed twice that many prisoners by 2009.

“The California state prison system is the worst overcrowded system I have seen in my experience,” says Wayne Scott, who headed the Texas prison system under then-Gov. George W. Bush.

Scott was one of many expert witnesses called in to look at the California system after 20 years of litigation and failure by the state to achieve reforms that it had agreed upon. Scott and other prison experts told a special three-judge court that overcrowding was the primary cause of the state prison’s problems. The court then ordered the state to reduce the prison population to 137 percent of capacity, more than the 130 percent recommended by the Federal Bureau of Prisons…

The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it lost on Monday. Writing for the five-member court majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the court has long held that prisoners are, in essence, wards of the state since they cannot provide for themselves. “Just as a prisoner may starve if not fed, he or she may suffer or die if not provided adequate medical care.” Moreover, said Kennedy, a prison system that fails to provide basic medical care is “incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in a civilized society.” California, he said, by virtue of its overcrowding, violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and the courts “must not shrink from their constitutional obligation to ‘enforce the rights of all persons, including prisoners.’ “

In a 48-page opinion, Kennedy laid out some of the facts of the case. Prisoners are not only doubled and tripled up in 6-by-9 cells but are stacked in bunks in areas meant to be gymnasiums, classrooms and even clinics. As many as 54 prisoners use one toilet, breeding disease, and medical care is so deficient that one prisoner dies needlessly every six to seven days. On the mental health side, prisoners awaiting care are often housed in “tiny, phone-booth sized cages,” with some inmates falling into hallucinations and catatonic states, and suicides well above national norms.

Justice Kennedy pointed out that the state had repeatedly agreed to fix these conditions by building more prisons, but the Legislature didn’t provide the money, and the overcrowding just grew worse. Given California’s ongoing budgetary crisis, Kennedy observed, there is no possibility the state can “build itself out of” its overcrowding problem, so the state will have to choose a combination of other methods, even perhaps release of nonviolent prisoners to reduce the state prison population. Joining Kennedy in the majority were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenters were Justices Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas in one dissenting opinion, and Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts in another.

Ballotpedia provides context to Proposition 20:

The ballot initiative was designed to make changes to AB 109 (2011), Proposition 47 (2014) and Proposition 57 (2016) – three measures that were intended to reduce the state’s prison inmate population. According to Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-9), the goal of the initiative is to “reform the unintended consequences of reforms to better protect the public. Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) disagreed with Cooper’s assessment, saying the initiative is the “latest scare tactic on criminal justice reform”.

Before Proposition 47 and Proposition 57, and a month after the passage of AB 109, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in the state’s prisons resulted in cruel and unusual punishment and affirmed a lower court’s order to reduce the prison population. AB 109 shifted the imprisonment of non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual offenders, as defined in state law, from state prisons to local jails. AB 109 also made counties, rather than the state, responsible for supervising certain felons on parole. Proposition 47, which voters approved in 2014, changed several crimes, which the measure considered non-serious and non-violent, from felonies or wobblers to misdemeanors. Former Gov. Brown (D) developed Proposition 57, which voters approved in 2016. Proposition 57 increased parole chances for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, as defined in state law, and gave them more opportunities to earn sentence-reduction credits for good behavior.

It is worth noting that U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-California) is among the supporters of Proposition 20. He makes bad decisions. Here is one example:

Los Angeles Times reported in 2019 that Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter, demanding $250 million in damages, for Twitter failing to police the accounts of parody accounts @DevinCow and @DevinNunes Mom, and also a political activist named Liz Mair.

…In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Virginia, Nunes complained that all three defamed him in hundreds of tweets over several months last year. It also seeks $350,000 in punitive damages, through legal experts say the suit has little chance of moving forward.

Nunes, a close ally of President Trump says in his complaint that he endured what “no human should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life.”…

There is no good reason for the police, who already have a lot of power, weaponry, and military gear, to have the power to change people’s sentencing years after the sentence was given. There is absolutely no good reason to allow police to overturn a Supreme Court decision.

I voted NO on Proposition 20. I really hope it does not pass.

Proposition 21

Proposition 21 is the Local Rent Control Initiative. SFGate reported that this proposition would allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago.

The information in the Quick Reference Guide says:

Allows local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Local limits on rate increases may differ from statewide limits.

Fiscal Impact: Overall, a potential reduction in state and local revenues in the high tens of millions of dollars per year over time. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or more.

A YES vote supports this ballot initiative to allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.

A NO vote opposes this ballot initiative, thereby continuing to prohibit rent control on housing that was first occupied after February 1, 1995, and housing units with distinct titles, such as single-family homes.

Ballotpedia provides the following context about what this ballot measure would change about rent control in California:

The ballot measure would replace the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Costa-Hawkins), which was passed in 1995. Prior to the enactment of Costa-Hawkins, local governments were permitted to enact rent control, provided that landlords would receive just and reasonable returns on their rental properties. Costa-Hawkins continued to allow local governments to use rent control, except on (a) housing that was first occupied after February 1, 1995, and (b) housing units with distinct titles, such as condos, townhouses, and single-family homes.

The ballot measure would allow local governments to adopt rent control on housing units, except on (a) housing that was first occupied within the last 15 years and (b) units owned by natural persons who own no more than two housing units with separate titles, such as single-family homes, condos, and some duplexes, or subdivided interests, such as stock cooperatives and community apartment projects.

Under Costa-Hawkins, landlords are allowed to increase rent prices to market rates when a tenant moves out (a policy known as vacancy decontrol). The ballot measure would require local governments that adopt rent control to allow landlords to increase rental rates by 15 percent during the first three years following a vacancy.

Supporters of Proposition 21 include:

  • Renters and Homeowners United to Keep Families in Their Homes (also known as Yes on 21)
  • Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent) and U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (Democrat)
  • California Democratic Party
  • Delores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers and Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  • AFSCME California, California Nurses Association, and SEIU California State Council
  • ACCE Action, ACLU of Southern California, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles, Eviction Defense Network, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles

Business Wire posted a press release on September 17, 2020, titled: “Bernie Sanders Backs Rent Control, Slams Greedy Landlords in New ‘Yes on 21’ Spot”. From the press release:

The ‘Yes on 21’ campaign is releasing a new :15 second video spot featuring United States Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the most most-trusted voices for the rights and needs of working families, reiterating his support for rent control and slamming greedy landlords. The spot will be deployed on ‘Yes on 21’ social media platforms and air later on cable and broadcast TV outlets.

In the spot, Sanders, who officially endorsed Proposition 21 in November 2019, says “… rent control is an appropriate tool to tell landlords that they cannot jack up their rents to any rate that they want.”

“The No on 21 campaign will try to convince voters that they are the ones fighting against homeless and for affordable housing. But Bernie knows that the billionaires who are funding the ‘No’ campaign are greedy billionaires who care nothing about the people, but only about their enormous profit margins,” said Susie Shannon, director of policy for the Yes on 21 campaign and former California political director for Senator Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. “Proposition 21 is a practical measure that will help keep families in their homes.”..

Yes on 21 points out that Proposition 21 will limit rent increases and preserve affordable housing to keep CA families in their homes. If passed, the measure would allow local communities to:

  • Limit Annual Rent Increases
  • Preserve Currently Affordable Housing
  • Incentivize the Construction of New Housing
  • Exempt Single-Family Homeowners
  • Guarantee Landlords a Fair Profit

Yes on 21 also points out the following information:

  • More than half of all renters statewide – more than 3 million households – spend more than 30% of their income on rent, meeting the federal government’s definition of “rent-burdened.” Worse still, nearly a third of renters spend at least half of their income on rent.
  • Prop 21 was written to target corporate landlord billionaires, not mom and pop landlords who are a staple of our communities.
  • Prop 21 codifies the right of landlords to make a fair return on their investment.
  • Prop 21 also protects groups of people who have historically (and today) are discriminated against when it comes to renting. This group includes Black Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Transgender individuals, LGBTQ Youth, LGBTQ Seniors, Veterans, people with disabilities, and the unhoused.

Those who oppose Prop 21 include:

  • The No on Prop 21 website, which was paid for by Californians to Protect Affordable Housing – a coalition of housing advocates, renters, businesses, taxpayers and veterans. Committee major funding from California Business Roundtable, California Association of Realtors, Apartment Association of Orange County.
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Republican Party of California
  • California Conference of Carpenters, California District of Iron Workers, California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Pipe Trades Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
  • Alavonbay Communities, Inc., Equity Residential, Essex Property Trust, Inc., Invitation Homes, Prometheus Real Estate Group
  • AMVETS Department of California, American Legion, Department of California, California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, California Chamber of Commerce, California Council of Affordable Housing, California NAACP State Conference, California Seniors Advocates League, California Taxpayers Association, Congress of California Seniors, Howard Jarvis Taxyapers Association

Most of the groups listed as opposed the Prop 21 are those who are making their living by building or selling homes/rentals. This strikes me as very suspicious and self-serving. The Republican Party, who has a history of putting the amount of money they can make over the well-being of their constituents, also opposes Prop 21.

Curbed San Francisco posted an article in October of 2019 titled: “California governor to sign statewide rent control bill in Oakland”. It was written by Adam Brinklow. From the article:

At a ceremony in Oakland today, Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign into law California’s “anti-rent gouging” bill, Assembly Bill 1482, which, starting next year, will cap annual rent increases and extend de facto rent control protections across the state.

The governor calls AB 1482 the “nation’s strongest statewide renter protections.”

Newsom, Assemblymember David Chiu, who authored the bill, and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins will appear at the West Oakland Senior Center for today’s signing. The appearance marks the beginning of what the Governor’s office calls a “statewide rent and housing tour,” with stops in multiple California cities to sign bills that the administration hopes will address the escalating state housing crisis.

The new law will restrict landlords from raising rents more than five percent in one year, plus the local cost of inflation, a formula that comes out to approximately seven percent in most cities.

The bill also seeks to help tenants by requiring landlords to have “just cause,” such as failure to pay rent, when terminating a lease.

AB 1482 does not override SF’s current, more aggressive rent control laws. However, it does apply to thousands of units not covered under existing local rent control protections; starting in 2020, units built in 2005 or before will fall under the purview of the rent cap.

In 2021, circa 2006 homes will also be affected, and so on. The law will sunset in 2030.

Before today’s signing, the California Rental Housing Association, a group representing over 22,000 rental property owners, sent out a missive stating its opposition to the bill…

My best guess is that Governor Gavin Newsom is opposed to Prop 21 because he prefers the rent control bill he signed in 2019? I don’t understand why he isn’t taking the same side as the Democratic Party is on this proposition.

I voted YES on Proposition 21.

Proposition 22

Proposition 22 is extremely controversial and a huge mess. There has been a lot of misinformation spread about what it is and what it will do. In short, this proposition is opposed by two big ride share companies, Uber and Lyft, who refuse to provide their workers with the pay and benefits of full employees.

To fully understand what this proposition is about, you need to know about AB5. It went into affect in California on January 1, 2020 (which feels like at least ten years ago). It required employers to provide “gig workers” with the same benefits that they offer to their employees.

The conditions in which an employer must classify a “gig worker” as an employee included:

  • The worker is free to perform services without the control or direction of the company.
  • The worker is performing work tasks that are outside the usual course of the company’s business activities.
  • The worker is customarily engaged in an independent established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

On September 4, 2020, AB2257 passed the California Senate floor and became a law. It made changes to AB5 that would protect several groups of freelancers from the limitations that were imposed by AB5. For example, freelance writers were limited to a total of 35 paid articles per year. That limitation was removed by AB2257.

Proposition 22 is the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2020) proposition.

A YES vote supports this ballot initiative to define app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors and adopt labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and other companies.

A NO vote opposes this ballot initiative, meaning California Assembly Bill 5 (2019) could be used to decide whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors.

It is important to know that Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have been fighting against having to give their workers – who do the primary tasks that those companies are built on – as employees.

On August 10, 2020, The Guardian posted an article titled: “Uber and Lyft must classify driers as employees, judge rules, in blow to gig economy”. It was written by Kari Paul. From the article:

A California judge has issued a preliminary injunction that would block Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The move on Monday came in response to a May lawsuit filed by the state of California against the companies, which alleged they are misclassifying their drivers under the state’s new labor law.

That law, known as AB5, took effect on 1 January. The strictest of its kind in the US, it makes it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits. The lack of workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits for drivers has become increasingly urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, as ridership plunges and workers struggle to protect themselves.

California is the largest market in the US for Uber and Lyft and the state where both companies were founded.

The lawsuit, and Monday’s injunction, are the most significant challenges to the ride-hailing companies’ business model thus far. Judge Ethan Schulman of the San Francisco superior court delayed enforcing his order by 10 days to give the companies a chance to appeal.

The court has provided a 10-day stay during which Uber can file an appeal – which the company plans to do immediately, a spokesman told the Guardian. This means the injunction will not have effects on Uber or Lyft’s services, for now…

On August 22, 2020, Business Insider posted an article titled: “Uber and Lyft have poured millions of dollars into a November ballot measure to keep California driver paid as independent contractors”. It was written by Katie Canales. From the article:

A California court in August granted Uber and Lyft a stay in their appeal of a court ruling that said drivers must be classified as employees, not contractors.

If they weren’t given the extra time, the companies were threatening to shut down their business throughout California. And if the companies had shut down, riders would have been cut off from booking rides on the apps – which likely would have incentivized Californians to back Proposition 22, a measure that will appear on the ballot in the November election.

Prop 22 strives to exempt ride-sharing and food-delivery companies from Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) gig worker law that was passed in September 2019, meaning Uber and Lyft could continue classifying – and paying – drivers as contractors, not employees. Uber and Lyft have built their business models around doing so, reserving full-time employee status for corporate roles to keep costs low. Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates and Instacart have poured a total of $110 million into support for the measure, according to the San Francisco Chronicle…

It should be noted that the same San Francisco Chronicle article says:

…Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have each put up $30 million to promote the measure; Postmates and Instacart each put up $10 million…

Here is who supports Proposition 22:

  • Yes on 22 – Save App Based Jobs & Services
  • Republican Party of California
  • California Peace Officers Association, California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association
  • DoorDash, InstaCart, Lyft, Postmates, Uber
  • CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau Federation, California NAACP State Conference, California Small Business Association, California State National Action Network, California Taxpayers Association, Crime Victims United of California, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Taxpayers Union

Here is who opposes Proposition 22:

  • No on Prop 22
  • U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D), Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I), Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)
  • U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D)
  • State Senators Marie Elena Durazo (D), Nancy Skinner (D), Scott Weiner (D)
  • Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D)
  • Speaker of the State Assembly Anthony Rendon (D)
  • State Assemblyperson Buffy Wicks (D)
  • Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs (Nonpartisan)
  • State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara (D)
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (Nonpartisan)
  • State Controller Betty Yee (D)
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden (D)
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich
  • California Democratic Party
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, California Labor Federation, California Professional Firefighters, California State Council of Laborers, California Teachers Association, SEIU California State Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Transport Workers Union of America, Unite HERE, United Food and Commercial Workers Westerns States Council
  • ACLU of Southern California, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California League of Conservation Voters, Gig Workers Rising

I am always inclined to vote against the wishes of large companies that spend $30 million (or more) on Propositions that would benefit them, save them money, and cause harm to their gig workers. That $30 million could have been used to pay their workers like they do the rest of their employees and to give them the proper benefits.

I voted NO on Proposition 22 because I oppose this ballot measure.

Proposition 23

Proposition 23 is the Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative. There has been some misinformation spread around about this proposition. If you live in California, then you probably got some propaganda about it in your mailbox.

A YES vote supports this ballot initiative to 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.

A NO vote opposes this ballot initiative. Voting NO means you think it is fine for dialysis clinics to NOT have an on-site physician while patients are being treated; to NOT report data on dialysis-related infections; to NOT obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic; and to go ahead and discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care.

It really is that simple. But the misinformation about what Proposition 22 is about has obscured how simple it truly is.

Ballotpedia provides the following information about Proposition 22:

The ballot measure would require chronic dialysis clinics to:

  • Have a minimum of one licensed physician present at the clinic while patients are being treated, with an exception for when there is a bona fide shortage of physicians;
  • Report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN);
  • Require the principal officer of the clinic to certify under penalty of perjury that he or she is satisfied, after review, that the submitted report is accurate and complete; and
  • Provide a written notice to the state health department and obtain consent from the state health department before closing a dialysis clinic.
  • Prohibits chronic dialysis clinics from discriminating with respect to offering or providing care or refusing to offer to provide care, on the basis of who is responsible for paying for a patient’s treatment.

Ballotpedia also provided this background:

In 2018, 59.9 percent of voters rejected California Proposition 8, which would have required dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients (or patients’ insurers) for profits above 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements. Proposition 8 (2018) and the Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative (2020) were designed to enact policies related to dialysis clinics, but the specific policies are different. Proposition 8 would have capped profits and required refunds, whereas this year’s initiative would address minimum physician staffing, data reporting, and clinic closures.

Proposition 8, like this year’s dialysis-related ballot initiative, had the support of the SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers. Proposition 8 established a new front in the conflict between the SEIU-UHW West and the state’s two largest dialysis businesses, DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care. The SEIU-UHW West said workers at dialysis clinics have been attempting to unionize since 2016, but that their employers were retaliating against pro-union employees. Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita, argued that “Proposition 8 puts California patients at risk in an effort to force unionization of employees.” Sean Wherley, a spokesperson for the SEIU-UHW West, contended that dialysis workers “want these [initiative] reforms regardless of what happens with their union efforts.”

Supporters of Proposition 23 include: California Democratic Party, and SEIU-UHW West

Opponents of Proposition 23 include:

  • Republican Party of California
  • DaVita, Inc.,and Fresenius Medical Care
  • AMVETS Department of California, American Legion, Department of California, California Medical Association, California NAACP State Conference.

It seems to me that DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care are motivated to convince people to vote NO on Proposition 23 because doing so will enable them to keep making a profit in the way that they currently are. That’s awfully suspicious, and makes me concerned about how they have been treating their dialysis patients.

Yes on 23 posted this on their website:

The two corporations that dominate the industry — DaVita and Fresenius — have done everything possible to keep their huge profits flowing by stopping patients and workers from making improvements to dialysis care. In 2018 the “Big Dialysis” corporations spent $111 million just to defeat Proposition 8, which would have required dialysis clinics to invest more of their revenues into improving direct patient care. Those same corporations are fighting Prop 23 and have already put $100 million into defeating the initiative.

I voted YES on Proposition 23 because I want dialysis patients to have really good care, from actual physicians, in a clean environment. I want them to not have to worry that the dialysis center will refuse to treat them because they are using Medicaid or Medicare.

Proposition 24

Proposition 24 is the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative (2020).

A YES vote supports this ballot initiative to expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws, including provisions to allow consumers to direct businesses not to share their personal information, remove the time period in which businesses can fix violations before being penalized; and create the Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the state’s consumer data privacy laws.

A NO vote opposes this ballot initiative to expand the state’s consumer data privacy laws or create the Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the state’s consumer data privacy laws.

Ballotpedia provides the following overview:

Proposition 24, also known as the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020, would expand and amend the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), create the California Privacy Protection Agency, and remove the ability of businesses to fix violations before being penalized for violations. The ballot initiative would require businesses to do the following:

  • not share a consumer’s personal information upon the consumer’s request
  • provide consumers with an opt-out option for having their sensitive personal information, as defined in law, used or disclosed for advertising or marketing
  • obtain permission before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 16
  • obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 13 and
  • correct a consumer’s inaccurate personal information upon the consumer’s request

Those who support Proposition 24 include:

  • Yes on 24
  • U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D)
  • State Senator Ben Allen (D), State Senator Robert Hertzberg (D) State Senator Nancy Skinner
  • Assemblymember David Chiu (D)
  • State Controller Betty Yee (D)
  • Andrew Yang (D) – Former 2020 presidential candidate
  • AFSCME California, California Professional Firefighters, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
  • California NAACP State Conference, Common Sense, Consumer Watchdog

Those who oppose Proposition 24 include:

  • No on Prop 24
  • Green Party of California, Libertarian Party of California, Republican Party of California
  • Dolores Huerta – Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers
  • California Nurses Association
  • ACLU of California, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Small Business Associations, Center for Digital Democracy, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of California, Council on Islamic American Relations – California, League of Women Voters in California, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Media Alliance

To me, the most compelling argument about why voters should support Proposition 24 comes from Andrew Yang:

“Other proposals simply do not match the strength and thoughtfulness of Prop 24. Alternatives would require all online businesses to offer their services for “free,” even if the business doesn’t have any alternative model to create revenue. This is unsustainable. As we’ve seen for years, if a service is free, the user is the product. Requiring this type of digital system would further marginalize privacy and data rights and make it nearly impossible to provide consumers with meaningful control over their information… But most importantly, Prop 24 provides Californians greater control over their data: If they don’t like a business or don’t trust its privacy protections, consumers can tell it that it can’t sell their personal information, and businesses are prohibited from unfairly punishing consumers for exercising these rights. This is a strong new protection, and puts control where it belongs: with the consumer.”

During the primaries, I spent a lot of time reading about Andrew Yang’s policies and ideas. He is a very smart man. He is in favor of Prop 24, and explained exactly why that is so.

I voted YES on Proposition 24.

Proposition 25

Proposition 25 is the “Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum (2020)” Proposition.

A YES vote is to uphold the contested legislation, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), which would replace cash bail with risk assessments for detained suspects awaiting trials.

A NO vote is to repeal the contested legislation, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), thus keeping in place the use of cash bail for detained suspects awaiting trials.

Personally, I don’t understand why this is on the on the 2020 ballot at all. SB 10 was signed into law by (then Governor) Jerry Brown in 2018. That was two years ago! It seems very strange that someone felt the need to get this two-year-old law on the 2020 ballot.

Ballotpedia provided information titled: “How did the veto referendum get on the ballot?”

In the California State Legislature, most Democrats (67 of 81) supported SB 10, while one (of 39) Republican supported the legislation. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed SB 10 on August 28, 2018, and the veto referendum to overturn the bill was filed on August 29. Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-18), the bill’s lead sponsor, described SB 10 as a “transformational shift away from valuing private wealth and toward protecting public safety.” He also said that upholding the legislation “is ground zero in the fight over criminal justice reform.”

The American Bail Coalition, a nonprofit trade association, organized the political action committee Californians Against the Reckless Bail Scheme to lead the effort to repeal SB 10 through a veto referendum. Jeff Clayton, the coalition’s executive director, stated, “The only debate we’re having right now is: Is the current system worse than the alternative? And the answer is, no, it’s not.” The top ten donors to the committee were bail bond businesses, owners of bail bond businesses, or companies that provided services or insurance to bail bond businesses. David Quintana, a California Bail Agents Association lobbyist, said, “You don’t eliminate an industry and expect those people to go down quietly.”

California’s three ACLU affiliates opposed SB 10, issuing a joint statement that said: “SB 10 is not the model for pretrial justice and racial equity that California should strive for.” The statement called for new legislation to “address racial bias in risk assessment tools.” ACLU of North California executive director Abdi Soltani said the group would not, however, align with bail bond businesses to overturn SB 10. Soltani stated, “Make no mistake, the bail industry is not interested in equal justice or equal protection under the law, they are seeking to turn back the clock to protect their bottom line.

How does bail work in California?

As of 2019, California utilized a cash bail system to release detained criminal suspects before their trials. Suspects paid a cash bond to be released from jail pending trial with the promise to return to court for trial and hearings. The cash bond was repaid to suspects after their criminal trials were completed, no matter the outcome. The Judicial Council of California, which is the rule-making department of the state’s judicial system, described bail as a tool to “ensure the presence of the defendant before the court.” The state’s countywide superior courts were responsible for setting cash bail amounts for crimes, and judges were permitted to adjust the cash bail amounts upward or downward. Suspects could post bail with their own money or through a commercial bail bond agent, who pays the full bail amount in exchange for a non-refundable premium from suspects. In California, there was no law setting or capping premiums on bail bonds. According to the California Department of Insurance, agents typically charged around 10 percent.

Those in support of Proposition 25 include:

  • Yes on Prop 25
  • U.S. Representative Karen Bass (D) and U.S. Representative Ted Lieu (D)
  • Governor Gavin Newsom (D)
  • State Senate President Toni Atkins (D)
  • State Senator James Beall Jr. (D), Senator Bill Dodd (D), Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D), Senator Steve Glazer (D), Senator Robert Hertzberg (D), Senator Gerald Hill (D), Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), Senator Connie Leyva (D, Senator Holly Mitchell (D), Senator Bill Monning (D), Senator Bob Wieckowski (D), and Senator Scott Weiner
  • Assemblymembers David Chiu (D), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D), Todd Gloria (D), Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D), and Sydney Kamlager (D)
  • Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon (D)
  • Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (Nonpartisan)
  • Former State Senate President Kevin de Leon (D)
  • California Democratic Party
  • California Teachers Union, SEIU California State Council
  • Action Now Initiative, California Medical Association, League of Women Voters of California, NextGen California

Here is a quote from the Orange County Register Editorial Board showing support for Proposition 25:

“The problem with the current system is that people who are innocent can suffer life-destroying consequences if they are arrested and eligible for bail, but lack the financial resources to pay thousands of dollars for a bail bond. While locked up for months before a trial, people can lose their jobs, fall behind on payments for housing, and plunge into an even deeper financial hole. Those who are able to borrow money for a bail bond can suffer ongoing harm from the added debt burden. Poverty is not a crime, but for people who are arrested and can’t afford bail, it is punished as if it were.”

Those opposed to Proposition 25 include:

  • No on Prop 25 (also known as Californians Against the Reckless Bail Scheme)
  • Republican Party of California
  • Orange County Board of Supervisors
  • ACLU of Southern California, American Bail Coalition, California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, California Bail Agents Association, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, California NAACP State Conference, California Small Business Association, Crime Victims United of California, Golden State Bail Agent’s Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Personally, I’ve always believed it is unfair and unjust to lock people up who have not yet been convicted of a crime. The rich people can afford to pay their way out of jail, but poor people cannot and so they are stuck there. Some of them are likely innocent.

I also don’t like propositions that appear to be put on the ballot simply to line the pockets of businesses who benefit by preying on poor people.

I voted YES on Proposition 25.

You may want to read How I Voted in the Presidential General Election 2020.

How I Voted on the Propositions in the 2020 California General Election is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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