With things like affirmative action, abolishment of cash bail, rent control and a referendum on Proposition 13 on the table, measures on California’s ballot had potential to be nearly as transformative as the presidential election itself. It was a heavy ballot for the state’s voters to consider.
Here’s where California landed on statewide propositions as of Wednesday morning with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Proposition 14: Stem cell research bond
Voters have authorized a $5.5 billion bond for the state’s stem cell research institute at an estimated $260 million annual repayment for the next 30 years. The new funding builds on a 2004 $3 billion bond approved under Proposition 71 to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Passage of Proposition 14 allows the institute to continue research and clinical trials for treatments of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke, epilepsy and a host of other diseases and conditions.
Proposition 15: Property tax bill to fund schools and local services
The property tax increase on commercial properties worth $3 million or more was rejected by voters this time around. Funding would have been allocated to support public schools and local government services.
While Proposition 15 failed to pass, Proposition 19 was approved and that revenue will serve the general fund and local governments.
Proposition 16: Affirmative action
Proposition 16 would have essentially overturned the ban on affirmative action enabled by Proposition 209 in 1996. It would have legally allowed state and local entities to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin in public education admission, public employment and public contracting. Given the contention debate over affirmation action, it’s not surprising that Prop. 16 failed, though it’s worth noting that voters rejected the legislation by just more than 12 percent.
Proposition 17: Voting rights after prison
Passage of Proposition 17 restores voting rights to parolees who have completed their sentences. California voters approved the change by a decent margin, which aligns with the overarching push for justice system reform.
Proposition 18: 17-year-old voting rights
By less than 10 points, voters rejected legislation that would have allowed California resident 17-year-olds to participate in primary elections if they would be 18 years old at the time of a general election. The state in general pushed back on reduction of voting age requirements, but in contrast, San Francisco just passed a proposition allowing 16-year-olds to participate in local elections.
Proposition 19: Narrows Propostion 13 property tax rules
The passage of Proposition 19 is a big deal. The legislation approved by voters is essentially a referendum on Proposition 13, which was part of the 1976 tax revolt movement. Under Prop. 19, transfer property tax laws will continue to protect homeowners who are 55 years of age or older, disabled, wildfire/disaster victims by retaining their tax rate when purchasing a new home within the state.
However, it closes loopholes on family property transfers if the owner does not occupy the home. Basically, if someone inherits property but does not live there, the property tax will be reassessed at market value.
Proposition 20: Parole limitation
Proposition 20 was solidly rejected by voters Tuesday. The legislation would have limited access to parole options for people who commit certain types of theft crimes and would have expanded required DNA collection to adults convicted of some types of misdemeanors.
Proposition 21: Rent control
State voters rejected Proposition 21 by a nearly 20-point margin. The legislation would have provided a remedy to the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits cities from establishing rent control laws. The failed legislation was focused on properties that were at least 15 years old.
Proposition 22: Drive app worker right to remain independent contractors
With Proposition 22 passing, people who drive and deliver for app-based companies such as Uber, Lyft and Instacart will remain independent contractors. The legislation exempts those workers from the law passed under Assembly Bill 5 in 2019. If it had been rejected, those gig economy businesses would have been required to classify workers as employees, providing benefits and subject to labor protection laws.
Proposition 23: Dialysis clinics regulation
Would have required a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to be on site at dialysis clinics. Additionally, it would have established requirements for staff and service reduction decisions. Those who objected to the legislation claimed many clinics would have been forced to shut down due to the increased cost to meet requirements of the new law.
Proposition 24: Consumer privacy
Proposition 24 in some ways prevents businesses from sharing consumer information and limit use of “sensitive personal information” by establishing a California Privacy Protection Agency at a fiscal impact of approximately $10 million. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asserts that while the legislation provides some needed consumer protection, it also opens the door to “pay for privacy” schemes that could target low-income people, making privacy an elitist issue.
Proposition 25: End cash bail
The use of cash bail is at the root of inequity in the justice system. Those who cannot afford to post bail are forced to await trial behind bars, whether guilty or innocent. Unfortunately, that system has often led to accused pleading guilty when in fact they may not have committed the crime — that situation disproportionately impact communities of color.
The proposition, which voters rejected, would have replaced cash bail with an algorithm-based risk assessment system. Many who support an end to cash bail were skeptical of the algorithm method and unintentional consequences of leaving incarceration decisions to a computer.