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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Guide to the Propositions on California's 2020 Ballot

Oct 08, 2020 01:56PM ● By Harper Klein

By the time your California ballot arrives in the mail—which it most likely has by now—you probably know what bubbles you’re filling in for the big races. But you may need some help getting up to speed on local and state propositions. Here we look at the most significant measures voters face in the 2020 election.

Prop 14: Authorizes Bonds to Continue Stem Cell Research

Voting for Prop 14 authorizes the state to sell up to $5.5 billion in bonds to infuse the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine with funds to continue work on stem cell research, particularly focused on finding stem cell treatments for diseases including Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancers.

Prop 15: Raises Taxes on Some Commercial Properties to Fund Schools and Local Services

If passed, Prop 15 would increase property taxes on commercial and industrial properties worth over $3 million to current market levels and remove Proposition 13 protections passed by voters in `1978. Proposition 15 would require commercial and industrial properties in California to be reassessed at least once every three years. Funds raised from the measure would be used for schools, community colleges, and local governments.

Prop 16: Ends the Ban on Affirmative Action in California Schools and Public Agencies

In 1996, California voters passed Prop 209, which amended the state constitution to forbid public schools and agencies from using “race and other immutable characteristics” in admissions, hiring, and contracting decisions. Passage of Prop 16 would open the door for affirmative action programs, particularly at universities, but does not establish “racial quotas.”

Prop 17: Restores Voting Rights to People on Parole

A 1974 ballot measure passed by voters established that people who had been convicted of felonies but served their sentences and were released would regain their right to vote. However, in that measure, they only allowed for the right to be returned after completing parole. Prop 17 would address the approximately 40,000 Californians who are out of prison but are still on parole.

Prop 18: Allows 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primaries

Right now, you must be 18 to vote in California. If Prop 18 passes, it would allow teenagers who are 17 when the primary occurs but have a birthday between that primary date and the general election, to vote in the primary.

Prop 19: Grants Property Tax Savings to Older Homeowners & Raises Taxes on Inherited Homes

Property taxes for homes in California are tied to the purchase price, not the current market price. If Prop 19 passes, a person over 55, severely disabled, or whose property has been damaged by natural disasters, could buy a new home while still getting a break on property taxes. The measure also tightens rules on property passed on to heirs when a person dies. Right now, those properties are taxed based on the purchase price; under this measure, that would only be true if the property is used as the heir’s primary residence.

Prop 20: Increases Possible Penalties for Non-Violent Offenses

If passed, the initiative would allow for harsher sentences for thefts, charging misdemeanors like shoplifting, check forgery, and some domestic violence crimes as felonies.

Prop 21: Allows Cities and Counties to Pass Local Residential Rent Control

If passed, it allows cities and counties to adopt new rent control measures on rental properties that are at least 15 years old. In the long run, it could reduce rents but also reduce incentives for builders to bring new housing into markets.

Prop 22: Exempts ‘Gig Workers’ at Companies Like Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash from Requirements that Workers Be Treated as Employees

A “yes” vote continues operations as usual with gig workers being paid as independent contractors, without sick time or benefits, and not paid for time spent waiting for customers, refueling, or other activities. A “no” vote forces the companies to comply with state employment laws. Companies say that if a “no” vote passes, they may have to charge higher fees for rides, severely limit the number of part-time drivers on their platforms, or even suspend service in California.

Prop 23: Establishes New Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics

If Prop 23 passes, it would require the clinics to always have at least one physician on-site during all operating hours, report any infection data to the state, get approval from the state before closing a location, and prohibit discriminating against patients based on their insurance.

Prop 24: Amends California’s Data Privacy Law

The California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2019, is considered the toughest data privacy law in the United States.  Prop 24 expands control over what data companies can collect about you, caps how long they can hold onto the data, and creates a new agency to enforce the privacy laws, all of which could come with substantial costs.

Prop 25: Referendum on a Law to Replace Cash Bail

Prop 25 lets voters decide if they want to enact a law passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown in 2018, put on hold by this ballot referendum. Voting yes moves forward, voting no vetoes the law which affirms no one in the state criminal system should have to pay money to be released prior to trial.









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