🗳 November 2020 Ballot Analysis – The Propositions

One of the key hallmarks of this election season will be the need to vote early (and not, as Trump says, to vote often). So to that end, I’m beginning my ballot analysis as early as possible. California has published the list of qualified ballot measures for the November ballot, so what better place to start. This is especially true because as of Labor Day weekend, there were twelve statewide ballot measures! So let’s start going through them. My starting point on this analysis, as I don’t have the ballot pamphlet yet, is Ballotpedia. This post covers the 12 measures on the California State Ballot, plus two local measures that will be on my ballot: a #DefundThePolice related measure on the LA County ballot (Measure J), and an LA Unified School Bond measure (Measure RR). Note that this was written Labor Day weekend, so we may learn more about all of these.

Tomorrow I’ll post my analysis of the people on the ballot.

Proposition 14: Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research. Initiative Statute. (Initiative 19-0022A1)

Ballot Summary: Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non-profit, and private entities for: (1) stem cell and other medical research, therapy development, and therapy delivery; (2) medical training; and (3) construction of research facilities. Dedicates $1.5 billion to fund research and therapy for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain and central nervous system diseases and conditions. Limits bond issuance to $540 million annually. Appropriates money from General Fund to repay bond debt, but postpones repayment for first five years. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: State costs of $7.8 billion to pay off principal ($5.5 billion) and interest ($2.3 billion) on the bonds. Associated average annual debt payments of about $310 million for 25 years. The costs could be higher or lower than these estimates depending on factors such as the interest rate and the period of time over which the bonds are repaid. The state General Fund would pay most of the costs, with a relatively small amount of interest repaid by bond proceeds.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): The ballot initiative would issue $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created to fund stem cell research. In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71, which created CIRM, issued $3.00 billion in bonds to finance CIRM, and established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research.

Supporters and Opponents: The primary supporter appears to be a PAC: Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures, and the UC Board of Regents (which probably gets a lot of the funding). No financial opposition at this time. Right to life groups are also opposed. As of Labor Day weekend when I wrote this, there was ~$6 Mil donated in favor, and no donations against.

Endorsement Notes:No endorsements yet. Opposition comes from a number of conservative newspapers (OC Register, Mercury News)

Websites:Yes on 14No on 14

Initial Thoughts:In general, I think this is an area where the state should be funding research, especially given Federal limitations and lack of funding. The only concern is really the cost of the bonded indebtedness, especially in a post-COVID world where we have additional costs related to the pandemic.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to support.

Proposition 15: Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Increases Funding for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment  (Initiative 19-0008)

Ballot Summary: Increases funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local governments by requiring that commercial and industrial real property be taxed based on current market value. Exempts from this change: residential properties; agricultural properties; and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less. Increased education funding will supplement existing school funding guarantees. Exempts small businesses from personal property tax; for other businesses, exempts $500,000 worth of personal property. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Net increase in annual property tax revenues of $7.5 billion to $12 billion in most years, depending on the strength of real estate markets. After backfilling state income tax losses related to the measure and paying for county administrative costs, the remaining $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion would be allocated to schools (40 percent) and other local governments (60 percent).

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):Proposition 15 would amend the California State Constitution to require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value. In California, the proposal to assess taxes on commercial and industrial properties at market value, while continuing to assess taxes on residential properties based on the purchase price, is known as split roll. The change from the purchase price to market value would be phased-in beginning in fiscal year 2022-2023. Properties, such as retail centers, whose occupants are 50 percent or more small businesses would be taxed based on market value beginning in fiscal year 2025-2026 (or at a later date that the legislature decides on). Proposition 15 would define small businesses as those that that are independently owned and operated, own California property, and have 50 or fewer employees.

The ballot initiative would make an exception for properties whose business owners have $3.00 million or less in holdings in California; these properties would continue to be taxed based on their purchase price. The ballot initiative would exempt a small business’s tangible personal property from taxes and $500,000 in value for a non-small business’s tangible personal property.

Supporters and Opponents: A large number of progressive individuals and organizations are in favor of this. Opposed by business organizations, Howard Jarvis organization. Contributions as of Labor Day show almost $21 Mil in favor, and $5.5 Mil against (and I expect the against spending to rise).

Endorsement Notes: Predictable opposition from conservative media.

Websites: Yes on 15No on 15

Initial Thoughts: I personally think Proposition 13 has done a lot of harm to the state. I recognize how it initially helped people stay in their homes, but at this point I feel it is contributing to making home owners for home buyers in California difficult — not only do they have to deal with high housing prices, but then they have incredible tax bills. But right now, that private home ownership side is still third rail of California politics (even though it is in many ways an expression of privilege, for often the economically disadvantaged don’t have the homes to pass down in the first place, and they bear the brunt of the services impacted by the 1978 Prop 13). Further, large corporations have been exploiting Prop 13 for years, using legal tricks to exempt commercial properties from paying their share of property taxes, even though they impact the community and use community services. They want to preserve their tax breaks in a big way, which is why they are mischaracterizing this as an attack on the property tax bills of personal homeowners and on Prop 13 in general. This measure isn’t perfect, but I think adjusting Prop 13 to allow commercial properties to pay the rate on what their properties are worth is only fair.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to support.

Proposition 16: Repeal Proposition 209, Allowing Affirmative Action Amendment

Ballotpedia Description: Repeals Proposition 209 (1996), which says that the state cannot discriminate or grant preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. (ACA 5)

Legislative Analyst Summary: The California Constitution, pursuant to provisions enacted by the initiative Proposition 209 in 1996, prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting 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. The California Constitution defines the state for these purposes to include the state, any city, county, public university system, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of, or within, the state.

This measure would repeal these provisions. The measure would also make a statement of legislative findings in this regard.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): Proposition 16 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal Proposition 209, passed in 1996, from the California Constitution. Proposition 209 stated that discrimination and preferential treatment were prohibited in public employment, public education, and public contracting on account of a person’s or group’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Therefore, Proposition 209 banned the use of affirmative action involving race-based or sex-based preferences in California. 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.

Supporters and Opponents: It is supported by numerous progressive organizations. The opposition is mostly predictable: the groups that supported Prop 209, and conservative groups who oppose affirmative action. Some Asian-American groups are also opposed, as they appear to feel it will impact university acceptance. As of Labor Day, contributions are running about $3.3 mil in favor, and $123 K against.

Endorsement Notes:The San Francisco Chronicle and the Mercury News are in favor; the WSJ is against.

Websites: Yes on 16No on 16

Initial Thoughts: It has often been said that being color blind is a good thing. But that often overlooks the impact of systematic racism and privilege. If more economically advantaged students get a leg up through where they live and what their parents can afford in terms of education, being “color blind” is still discriminatory. As this summer’s battles have shown us, we need to make an active effort to undo systematic racism. Permitting compensating action, where permitted under Federal Law, should be available as an option.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to support.

Proposition 17: Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment

Ballotpedia Description: Restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. (ACA 6)

Legislative Analyst Summary: The California Constitution requires the Legislature to provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony. Existing statutory law, for purposes of determining who is entitled to register to vote, defines imprisoned as currently serving a state or federal prison sentence.

This measure would instead direct the Legislature to provide for the disqualification of electors who are serving a state or federal prison sentence for the conviction of a felony. This measure would also delete the requirement that the Legislature provide for the disqualification of electors while on parole for the conviction of a felony. The measure would provide for the restoration of voting rights upon completion of the prison term.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):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.

Supporters and Opponents: A large number of Democratic officials support this. A lone Republican state senator opposes. As of Labor Day, there were no contributions for or against.

Endorsement Notes: None currently

Websites: Yes on 17No on 17

Initial Thoughts:  The person has been released from prison. They have done the time for their crime. I see no reason why we shouldn’t recognize that and allow them to vote. What is the fear? That released felons will be inclined to support liberal causes? Conservative causes? The reality is that they don’t lose their right to an opinion or the ability to be a citizen just because they have paid the penalty for a crime by being locked up. We should encourage them along the path of being productive citizens. Additionally, as we were talking about systematic racism: Consider that a high proportion of those released on parole are minorites, and often policies that prevent parolees and felons from voting are back-door ways of restricting the minority vote.

Conclusion:Inclined to support.

Proposition 18: Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment

Ballotpedia Description: Allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primaries and special elections. Legislative Constitutional Amendment (ACA 4)

Legislative Analyst Summary: The California Constitution authorizes any person who is a United States citizen, at least 18 years of age, and a resident of the state to vote.

This measure, in addition, would authorize a United States citizen who is 17 years of age, is a resident of the state, and will be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next general election to vote in any primary or special election that occurs before the next general election in which the citizen would be eligible to vote if at least 18 years of age.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections.

Supporters and Opponents:A few Democrats support. The Election Integrity Project opposes, arguing that 17 year olds are still children. As of Labor Day, there were no contributions for or against.

Endorsement Notes: None at the present time.

Websites:Yes on 18No on 18

Initial Thoughts:Note the specifics of this: This is voting only in primaries and special elections, only when the 17 year old would be voting in the General election a few months away  This would not be voting in the general election at age 17 (and thus, not voting for President at 17). There’s not a magical switch that activates at age 18 in the brain. There are many 17-year-olds that are mature, and many over 18 year olds that are quite immature. I don’t see a problem with this.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to support.

Proposition 19: Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment

Ballotpedia Description: Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules for victims of natural disasters. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. (ACA 11)

Legislative Analyst Summary: The California Constitution limits the amount of ad valorem taxes on real property to 1% of the full cash value of that property, defined as the county assessor’s valuation of real property as shown on the 1975–76 tax bill and, thereafter, the appraised value of the property when purchased, newly constructed, or a change in ownership occurs after the 1975 assessment, subject to an annual inflation adjustment not to exceed 2%. The California Constitution authorizes the Legislature to authorize a person over 55 years of age or any severely and permanently disabled person residing in property eligible for the homeowner’s exemption to transfer the base year value of that property to a replacement dwelling of equal or lesser value located in the same county, or another county that has adopted an ordinance allowing base years value transfers from other counties, as provided. The California Constitution also provides that the purchase or transfer of the principal residence, and the first $1,000,000 of other real property, of a transferor in the case of a transfer between parents and their children, or between grandparents and their grandchildren if all the parents of those grandchildren are deceased, is not a “purchase” or “change in ownership” for purposes of determining the “full cash value” of property for taxation.

This measure, beginning on and after April 1, 2021, would authorize an owner of a primary residence who is over 55 years of age, severely disabled, or a victim of a wildfire or natural disaster, as defined, to transfer the taxable value, defined as the base year value plus inflation adjustments, of their primary residence to a replacement primary residence located anywhere in the state, regardless of the location or value of the replacement primary residence, that is purchased or newly constructed as that person’s principal residence within 2 years of the sale of the original primary residence. The measure would limit a person who is over 55 years of age or severely disabled to 3 transfers under these provisions.

The measure, beginning on and after February 16, 2021, would exclude from the terms “purchase” and “change in ownership” for purposes of determining the “full cash value” of property the purchase or transfer of a family home or family farm, as those terms are defined, of the transferor in the case of a transfer between parents and their children, or between grandparents and their grandchildren if all the parents of those grandchildren are deceased. In the case of a transfer of a family home, the measure would require that the property continue as the family home of the transferee. The measure would require that the taxable value of the property be determined as provided. In the case of property tax benefits provided to a family home under these provisions, the bill would require the transferee to claim the homeowner’s or disabled veteran’s exemption within one year of the transfer. The measure would specify that the above-described provisions relating to transfers between parents or grandparents and children or grandchildren would apply to transfers occurring on or before February 15, 2021.

The measure would establish the California Fire Response Fund in the State Treasury. The measure would require the Controller to annually transfer a specified amount, based on calculations by the Director of Finance, of the additional revenues and savings that accrued to the state from the implementation of this measure’s provisions from the General Fund to that fund. However, the measure would provide that, if the amount required to be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund exceeds the amount transferred for the previous fiscal year by more than 10%, that excess amount would not be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund. The measure would require the Legislature to appropriate moneys in the fund solely for the purpose of funding fire suppression staffing by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and underfunded special districts that provide fire protection services, as provided.

The measure would also establish the County Revenue Protection Fund and continuously appropriate moneys in that fund for the purpose of reimbursing eligible local agencies, as provided. The measure would require the Controller to annually transfer a specified amount, based on the above-described calculations by the Director of Finance, from the General Fund to that fund. The measure would require each county to annually determine the gain of the county and any local agency within the county resulting from the implementation of this measure and, if that amount of gain is negative, provide that specified eligible local agencies may receive a reimbursement from the County Revenue Protection Fund. The measure would require the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to provide a reimbursement to each eligible local agency that has a negative gain, determined every 3 years based on the aggregate gain of the eligible local agency, as provided, and require the Controller to transfer any remaining balance in the County Revenue Protection Fund to the General Fund at the end of each 3-year period, to be available for appropriation for any purpose.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): The ballot measure would allow eligible homeowners (persons over 55 years old, persons with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and hazardous waste contamination) to transfer their tax assessments anywhere within the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment. The number of times that a tax assessment can be transferred would increase from one to three for persons over 55 years old or with severe disabilities (disaster and contamination victims would continue to be allowed one transfer). The ballot measure would also 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 principal residence, such as using a property a rental house or a second home. When the inherited property is used as the recipient’s principal residence but has a market value above $1 million, 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 principal residential property would be adjusted each year at a rate equal to the change in the California House Price Index

Supporters and Opponents: Major supporters are real estate interests. Contributions as of Labor Day show over $19 Mil in favor, and nothing against.

Endorsement Notes: The predictable conservative papers opposed this, noting it is “an attempt by real estate interests to accomplish what they couldn’t accomplish two years ago by pandering to the state’s firefighters union”. They prefer more wholistic reform

Websites:Yes on 19No on 19

Initial Thoughts:This plays as property tax bill, but note the legislative analysis summary: “The measure would establish the California Fire Response Fund in the State Treasury. The measure would require the Controller to annually transfer a specified amount, based on calculations by the Director of Finance, of the additional revenues and savings that accrued to the state from the implementation of this measure’s provisions from the General Fund to that fund. However, the measure would provide that, if the amount required to be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund exceeds the amount transferred for the previous fiscal year by more than 10%, that excess amount would not be transferred to the California Fire Response Fund. The measure would require the Legislature to appropriate moneys in the fund solely for the purpose of funding fire suppression staffing by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and underfunded special districts that provide fire protection services, as provided.” I’m generally not in favor of doing more tinking with Prop 13, but with climate change we’re going to need more funding and effort on fire suppression.

Updated Thoughts: The LA Times Editorial opposes this, and makes a good point: “Proposition 19 would just expand the inequities in California’s property tax system. It would grossly benefit those who were lucky enough to buy a home years ago and hold onto it as values skyrocketed. It would give them a huge tax break and greater buying power in an already expensive real estate market. It would skew tax breaks further away from people who don’t own a home or who may be struggling to buy one.” As such, Prop 19 continues the systematic racism in the housing market, and as I’m consistently opposing systematic racism in my choices, my position is changing.

Conclusion: ☒ Inclined to oppose.

Proposition 20: Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection. Initiative Statute. (17-0044)

Proposition Summary: Imposes restrictions on parole program for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term for their primary offense. Expands list of offenses that disqualify an inmate from this parole program. Changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program. Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950. Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection of DNA samples for state database. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state and local correctional costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily related to increases in penalties for certain theft-related crimes and the changes to the nonviolent offender release consideration process. Increased state and local court-related costs of around a few million dollars annually related to processing probation revocations and additional felony theft filings. Increased state and local law enforcement costs not likely to exceed a couple million dollars annually related to collecting and processing DNA samples from additional offenders.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):The ballot initiative 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. The ballot initiative would also establish two additional types of crimes in state code—serial crime and organized retail crime—and charge them as wobblers (crimes chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies). The ballot initiative would require persons convicted of certain misdemeanors that were classified as wobblers or felonies before 2014, such 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. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) has a parole review program in which felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, as defined in law, could be released on parole upon completing their sentence for his or her offense with the longest imprisonment term. The ballot initiative would require the parole review board to consider additional factors, such as the felon’s age, marketable skills, attitude about the crime, and mental condition, as well as the circumstances of the crimes committed, before deciding whether to release a felon on parole. The ballot initiative would allow prosecutors to request a review of the board’s final decision. The ballot initiative would also define 51 crimes and sentence enhancements as violent in order to exclude them from the parole review program. In California, counties are responsible for supervising paroled felons convicted of non-serious and non-violent crimes, as defined in law, and who were not classified as high-risk sex offenders nor classified as needing treatment from the state Department of Mental Health. Counties have discretion on whether to petition the judicial system to change a felon’s post-release supervision terms or status. The ballot initiative would require local probation departments to ask a judge to change the conditions or status of a felon’s post-release supervision if the felon violated supervision terms for the third time.

Supporters and Opponents:This is supported by a few officials, and police and sheriff unions. It is opposed by other unions and the ACLU. As of Labor Day, contributions on both sides are close: $3.9 Mil in favor, $2.4 Mil against.

Endorsement Notes: No endorsements yet. Conservative newspapers oppose.

Websites:Yes on 20No on 20

Initial Thoughts: Remember the discussion above about systematic racism. Guess who is disproportionately impacted by measures such as this. Yup. Although crime is a concern, overall, crime has been going down in the state. More importantly, this does nothing to address the causes of the crime: economic disadvantage, mental illness, societal injustice. Increasing the penalties does not stop crime — it just provides employment for more cops and prison guards, and increases how much we have to pay for prisons and the prison industrial complex.

Conclusion: ☒ Inclined to oppose.

Proposition 21: Local Rent Control Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Expands local governments’ power to use rent control. Initiative Statutes.  (Initiative 19-0001)

Proposition Summary: Amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Allows rent increases on rent-controlled properties of up to 15 percent over three years from previous tenant’s rent above any increase allowed by local ordinance. Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their property. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Potential reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or more.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): 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. 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 and Opponents:Supporters include Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party, the AIDS Healthcare organization (who were behind the last rent control proposition), and tenants unions. Opposition includes real estate groups, apartment owner associations, construction unions, seniors organizations. The organizations are significant. Real estate organizations think this will lead to less apartments being built (even though it only applies to older buildings, new new buildings), and it will lower the interest in people buying older rentals. Construction groups think it will lead to less construction (again, see the fact this only applies on older buildings). Apartment owners believe it will hurt their income models. Seniors probably don’t like it because real estate is often a source of income. Tenants, of course, like it because it keeps rents down. Contributions, as of Labor Day, are about equal: about $16.7 mil for, and $16.5 mil against.

Endorsement Notes: No positive endorsements yet. Negative endorsements from predictable conservative groups: Mercury News (BANG), Orange County Register (LANG)

Websites:Yes on 21No on 21

Initial Thoughts:This bill has a number of interesting exemptions: it exempts buildings first occupied in the last 15 years (hmmm, is that a moving date?), or that are owned by PEOPLE (not corporations) who own no more than two properties. It also does not mandate rent control — it just allows local jurisdictions to adopt it if it is appropriate for their community. But you wouldn’t know that from the scare tactics being used by the “no” side. I also see this as another systematic racism. Ask yourself: Where are the older buildings that would most likely be subject to rent control? Where do corporate investors go to make money from communities that primarily rent? If your answer was predominately in low-income, urban, dense areas, you’re right. So failure of this measure would again allow landlords to continue to profit on those that can least afford it. That increases housing stress, which leads to all sorts of other problems. So in terms of fighting systematic racism and privilege, I think enacting rent control in such neighborhoods is a good idea. On the other hand, is rent control needed everywhere? Nope, and counties where it isn’t needed don’t have to do it. I don’t there is the same housing stress in Modoc or Del Norte county. I also don’t think you’re finding the 15 year old rental units in the wealthier neighborhoods.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to Support.

Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Considers app-based drivers to be independent contractors and enacts several labor policies related to app-based companies. Initiative Statute.   (Initiative 19-0026A1)

Proposition Summary: Establishes different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are “employees” or “independent contractors.” Independent contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Instead, companies with independent-contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative benefits, including: minimum compensation and healthcare subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training, and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increase in state personal income tax revenue of an unknown amount.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): Proposition 22 would consider app-based drivers to be independent contractors and not employees or agents. Therefore, the ballot measure would override Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors. The ballot initiative would define app-based drivers as workers who (a) provide delivery services on an on-demand basis through a business’s online-enabled application or platform or (b) use a personal vehicle to provide prearranged transportation services for compensation via a business’s online-enabled application or platform. Examples of companies that hire app-based drivers include Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. The ballot measure would not affect how AB 5 is applied to other types of workers.

Supporters and Opponents:This bill was sponsored by, and is primarily supported by, DoorDash, Uber and Lyft. Other supporters include Police Officers, Instacard, Postmates, and Chambers of Commerce. Opposing are Democratic leaders, Workers Unions, Contributions are lopsided: about $110 mil in favor, and about $1.8 mil against. Expect to be bombarded. Of those “yes” contributions, $30 mil each came from Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, and $10 mil from Instacart and Postmates.

Endorsement Notes: No opposition editorials yet. Supporters are the predictable Conservative papers: OC Register, Bakersfield Californian.

Websites:Yes on 22No on 22

Initial Thoughts:Ask yourself: If Uber and Lyft and DoorDash have that much money to spend on this campaign, why do they not use it to pay their employees better? I have significant problems with a single industry effectively paying to put a ballot proposition on the ballot that impacts only their narrow industry, to increase their profits. I see that as abuse of the system. I agree that AB5 is flawed: it has created significant problems for real independent contractors: writers, musicians, actors, technicians, and others. It looks like there have been some corrections to fix that. But this proposal isn’t being driven by the legislature and debated; it is written by an industry to benefit an industry. It attempts to provide an out to an industry that arguably does not need it and arguably exploits their drivers. If a driver is working for your company for a significant number of hours, classify them as an employee and provide them benefits. Prop 22 is the wrong way to fix AB5. What is needed, for transportation, is for drivers working above a certain number of hours a week, on a regular contracted basis, to be treated as employees and get benefits; below those hours there should be clear rules that meet the requirements for either part-time employees or independent contractors. But do it my way or I take my toys and go home doesn’t endear me to your cause.

Further, there’s this passage in the proposal:

7465. (a) After the effective date of this chapter, the Legislature may amend this chapter by a statute passed in each house of the Legislature by rollcall vote entered into the journal, seven-eighths of the membership concurring, provided that the statute is consistent with, and furthers the purpose of, this chapter. No bill seeking to amend this chapter after the effective date of this chapter may be passed or ultimately become a statute unless the bill has been printed and distributed to members, and published on the Internet, in its final form, for at least 12 business days prior to its passage in either house of the Legislature.

Note the key aspects here: a 7/8th requirement for passage, and even then, it must be consistent with this bill. Problems found. You can’t fix it. Sorry, that effectively removes the power of the legislature to amend, and cements corporate interests. AB5 needs reforming. But this is not the way to do it.

Conclusion: ☒ Inclined to oppose.

Proposition 23: Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Requires physician on-site at dialysis clinics and consent from the state for a clinic to close. Initiative Statute. (Initiative 19-0025A1)

Proposition Summary: Requires at least one licensed physician on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics; authorizes Department of Public Health to exempt clinics from this requirement due to shortages of qualified licensed physicians if at least one nurse practitioner or physician assistant is on site. Requires clinics to report dialysis-related infection data to state and federal governments. Requires state approval for clinics to close or reduce services. Prohibits clinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased state and local health care costs, likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually, resulting from increased dialysis treatment costs.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):The ballot measure would require chronic dialysis clinics to (1) 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; (2) report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); (3) 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 (4) provide a written notice to the state health department and obtain consent from the state health department before closing a chronic dialysis clinic. The ballot measure would also state that a chronic dialysis clinic cannot “discriminate with respect to offering or providing care” nor “refuse to offer or to provide care, on the basis of who is responsible for paying for a patient’s treatment.”

Supporters and Opponents:The proposition was sponsored by the healthcare workers union. It is opposed by the major companies that operate dialysis clinics, veterans organizations, and the CMA. As of Labor Day, contributions in support are running about $6 mil, and there is about $2 mil against.

Endorsement Notes: No endorsements in favor yet. Against are the conservative papers: Mercury News, OC Register, Press-Democrat.

Websites:Yes on 23No on 23

Initial Thoughts:The oppositions seems to be characterizing this as a union fight: This is a proposition by the healthcare workers union against the big nasty clinic owners, to enable them to unionize workers. But there’s nothing in the measure that mentions unionization of workers> For me, the man opposition is due to a single line: “Prohibits clinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care.” Right now, clinics can exclude medicare and other select insurers. That goes to social justice issues. I also think this could lead to more clinics, especially in times of physician shortages (or areas of shortages). I think the opposition to this is coming because corporate oxen are being gored.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to Support.

Proposition 24: Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative

Ballotpedia Description: Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and creates the California Privacy Protection Agency to implement and enforce the CCPA. Initiative Statute. (Initiative 19-0021A1)

Proposition Summary: Permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit businesses’ use of “sensitive personal information”—such as precise geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion; genetic data; union membership; private communications; and certain sexual orientation, health, and biometric information. Changes criteria for which businesses must comply with these laws. Prohibits businesses’ retention of personal information for longer than reasonably necessary. Triples maximum penalties for violations concerning consumers under age 16. Establishes California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce and implement consumer privacy laws, and impose administrative fines. Requires adoption of substantive regulations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased annual state costs of roughly $10 million for a new state agency to monitor compliance and enforcement of consumer privacy laws. Increased state costs, potentially reaching the low millions of dollars annually, from increased workload to DOJ and the state courts, some or all of which would be offset by penalty revenues. Unknown impact on state and local tax revenues due to economic effects resulting from new requirements on businesses to protect consumer information.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):This would expand or 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: (1) not share a consumer’s personal information upon the consumer’s request; (2) provide consumers with an opt-out option for having their sensitive personal information, as defined in law, used or disclosed for advertising or marketing; (3) obtain permission before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 16; (4) obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 13; and (5) correct a consumer’s inaccurate personal information upon the consumer’s request.

Supporters and Opponents: Supporters include Andrew Yang and some consumer groups. Opposition includes the ACLU, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federations, and loads of Silicon Valley Groups. The Electronic Freedom Foundation, which takes a neutral stance, notes that it does not do enough to advance the data privacy of California consumers. It is a mixed bag of partial steps backwards and forwards. It includes some but not most of the strengthening amendments urged by privacy advocates. Contributions as of Labor Day show about $150 thou in favor, and nothing against.

Endorsement Notes: Conservative papers, such as the Mercury News and OC Register, oppose this.

Websites:Yes on 24No on 24

Initial Thoughts: Privacy is a gigantic issue, and privacy laws can have large impacts. Witness what happened with the GDPR and the current California Privacy law, which is why you constantly get the notification about cookies. Having California take a different stance than other states has a large impact on interstate commerce, and I really believe that we need a national solution to the privacy problem, not state by state (which would make the internet even more of a morass). The fact that the EFF finds enough flaws with the measure that they are unable to support it says quite a bit, and their arguments resonate with me.

Conclusion: ☒ Inclined to oppose.

Proposition 25: Referendum on Law that Replaced Money Bail with System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk

Ballotpedia Description: Replaces cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial. Initiative Referendum.  (Initiative 18-0009)

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

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia): A yes vote upholds SB 10. The legislation replaces the state’s cash bail system with risk assessments to determine whether a detained suspect should be granted pretrial release and under what conditions. The risk 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. SB 10 would exempt suspects of misdemeanors, with exceptions, from needing a risk assessment to be released. SB 10 would require the superior courts to establish pretrial assessment divisions, which would be tasked with conducting risk assessments and making recommendations for conditions of release. The state Judicial Council would decide which risk assessment tools are valid for use. SB 10 would not itself mandate what factors the assessment tools need to consider, but the bill would state that “tools shall be demonstrated by scientific research to be accurate and reliable.”

Supporters and Opponents: There are a large number of Democratic supporters. The teachers unions and service workers support it. Opposition includes Bail Bondsmen, Orange County, Chambers of Commerce, Crime Victims unions. Contributions, as of Labor Day, are running about $1.3 mil in favor, and $4.1 mil against.

Endorsement Notes: No editorial endorsements for at this time. Against are the predictable conservative papers: Mercury News, OC Register.

Websites:Yes on 25No on 25

Initial Thoughts:Our system of money bail is, to put it simply, WRONG. It allows people to be released on their own recognizance based not on their risk to flee or their risk to society, but on their ability to possess or borrow funds. As such, it works in favor of those who have wealth, or who are from favored groups that can borrow. It also creates the ability for people from less favored groups to be taken advantage of with usurious bail rates. Just as we do with our computer systems, whether someone should be allowed a pre-trial release should be based on an assessment of risk. As such, this falls into that category of bills related to systematic racism, as our system of money bail is systematically racist.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to Support.

Los Angeles County Measure J: Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration

Ballotpedia Description: Amends the county’s charter to require that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration, such as health services and pre-trial non-custody services;  Charter Amendment.

What does it do (summarized from Ballotpedia):The charter amendment would require that 10% of the unrestricted general funds be appropriated to community investment and alternatives to incarceration. For community investment, the amendment includes allocating funds to the following: (1) youth development programs, (2)job training and low-income jobs, (3)investment in small minority-owned businesses, (4)rent assistance, housing vouchers, and transitional housing.For alternatives to incarceration, the amendment includes allocating funds to the following: (1) community-based restorative justice programs, (2)pre-trial non-custody services and treatment, and (3)health services, counseling, and mental health and substance use disorder services. The amendment would become effective on July 1, 2021, and implement the 10% allocation over three years with the full set aside in effect by June 30, 2024. The amendment authorizes the Board of Supervisors to reduce the 10% allocation with a 4-1 vote during declared fiscal emergencies

Supporters and Opponents:Supported by Re-Imagine LA, some LA City Councilcritters and Supervisors. Supported by the co-founder of Black Lives Matter.  Opposed by Supervisor Barger, the Sheriff’s office, and the DA’s office. Barger opposes it for economic reasons; the DAs see it as a knee-jerk response.

Endorsement Notes: None yet.

Websites:Yes on JNo on J

Initial Thoughts: It seems that a theme throughout these measures has been addressing systematic racism and social justice. This measure is a response to the #BLM Black Lives Matter movement and the calls to #DefundThePolice, which really means letting the police focus on serving and protecting, and addressing reduction of police issues by addressing problems in communities by other means. I think this measure can be a good start in that direction.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to Support.

Los Angeles Unified School District Measure RR: School Upgrades and Safety

What does it do: To update classrooms/labs/technology for 21st century learning; implement COVID-19 facility safety standards; address school facility inequities; reduce asbestos, earthquake and water quality hazards; and replace/renovate aging school classrooms/buildings, shall Los Angeles Unified School District’s measure be adopted authorizing $7,000,000,000 in bonds at legal rates,  levying approximately $0.02174 per $100 of assessed valuation, generating an estimated $329,528,000 annually until approximately 2055, with independent audits, citizens’ oversight, no funds for administrative salaries?

According to the Daily News, this was approved by LAUSD at the beginning of Agust. The general-obligation bonds would continue efforts over the past 20 years to build new classrooms, make repairs and improve existing classrooms to meet the technology needs of students. The bond measure would not increase property taxes but rather continue the existing tax rate that otherwise would decrease soon,  when the prior bonds expire. The average tax rate for this particular bond assessed on property owners amounts to roughly $21 per $100,000 of assessed value until 2055, generating nearly $330 million annually. The bond measure needs at least 55% voter support within the district. If approved by voters, the bond measure would be among the largest school-district bond measures in US history.

The Daily News also noted that current estimates show the district has more than $50 billion in unfunded facilities needs at roughly 1,100 school campuses districtwide. More than 70% of all buildings were constructed more than 50 years ago, and many are deteriorating and do not meet today’s standards for learning. With some students learning in new classrooms, others are stuck in outdated facilities, creating disparities district officials say are unfair. More than 500 school sites need to be modernized, they say. The allocation of the bonds would be as follows:

  • Nearly $3 billion to upgrade and retrofit old campuses
  • $1.5 billion for upgrading systems, grounds, furniture and equipment to reduce safety hazards
  • $430 million for ensuring buildings are fully compliant with accessibility standards
  • $300 million to enhance and expand learning wellness and athletic opportunities
  • $130 million to provide safety upgrades at early childhood education facilities
  • $130 million to replace adult and career centers
  • $450 million to upgrade, modernize and construct charter school facilities
  • $195 million to replace aging cafeterias
  • $375 million to improve school safety and security
  • $405 million to furnish and equip schools with learning technologies
  • $33 million to replace outdated and inefficient school buses
  • $40 million to ensure oversight and accountability of bond expenditures

Supporters and Opponents: None published as of Labor Day weekend. Presumably, the LAUSD Board is in favor of this, as is UTLA and likely the construction workers unions. Also, presumably, the Howard Jarvis Assn is against this, as it extends a tax.

Endorsement Notes: None yet.

Websites:Yes on RRNo on RR

Initial Thoughts:This doesn’t increase property taxes, and schools are having to deal with the uncertainties of COVID. But then again, school bonds are continuously on the budget, and never seem to go away. Why? The state doesn’t pay schools enough to actually maintain facilities, going back to the days of Prop 13 (see Prop 15 above). But since this does not increase property taxes, I’m inclined to support it.

Conclusion: ☑ Inclined to Support.

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