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By Pennell Paugh

October 7, 2020 (San Diego) – California voters will have 11 statewide ballot measures on their ballots for the Nov. 3 election.  They span a range of issues including medical research support, school funding, restoring affirmative action, voting rights for parolees, voting age, property taxes, criminal justice reforms, rent control, employment status of rideshare drivers, kidney dialysis, consumer privacy, and bail reforms.  Below are detailed descriptions on all of the state ballot propositions, along with arguments for and against.

All registered voters should receive ballots in the mail this week, which can be mailed in of dropped off at these drop-off locations.  You can also vote in person Oct. 31 through Nov.3 from 7 a.m. to 8  p.m., though there are fewer locations than in the past.  Find your polling place here.  Not yet registered? You can register through Oct. 30 at




Proposition 14

Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) 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. (Alex Padilla, Calif. Secretary of State)

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 general fund money to repay bond debt, but postpones repayment for the first five years. (In 2004, CIRM was issued $3 billion in bonds and Prop. 71 established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research. CIRM ran out of funds in 2019.) 

Additionally, increases the number of members from 29 to 35 in the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee which oversees CIRM. The new members would focus on improving access to treatments and cures. (Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures, a political action committee, leads the campaign to support the initiative. CIRM says that in the past seven years, they’ve advanced more than 90 clinical trials, completed nearly 3,000 studies and backed two cancer treatments that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If this proposition fails, proponents say much of their research will potentially have to stop and many of their ongoing studies will be in jeopardy. (Capradio) If research provided by CIRM may be duplicated by the federal government, so much the better. Research needs to be tested and validated.

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Editorial Boards—The Orange County Register, The Bakersfield Californian, and Mercury News & East Bay Times: The federal government and private organizations now fund stem cell research and our state budget is strained from the cost of the pandemic. (Ballotpedia)

Proposition 15

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 rather than purchase price. Exempts residential properties; agricultural properties; and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less. (Alex Padilla, Calif. Secretary of State)

The change from the purchase price to market value would be phased-in. Beginning in fiscal year 2022-2023 And beginning FY 2022-2023, it could be applied to properties, such as retail centers, whose occupants are 50 percent or more small businesses. (Ballotpedia) If passed, the measure would result in an estimated $6.5 to $11.5 billion more for cities, counties and school districts. (CalMatters)

Pros/Supporters: The California Teachers Association, SEIU California and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative created the initiative. (CalMatters) Schools and Communities First has a list of supporters and the list of individuals, public officials, unions, and organizations can be found at Ballotpedia. Individuals supporting this measure state that this initiative will gather needed funds for education without raising homeowner property tax. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, says the measure “is designed specifically to help address inequities that poorer school districts face, which has significant implications for communities of color.” (Ballotpedia) The number of businesses affected by this initiative would be small and they would be allowed  to deduct this tax from their income taxes.

Cons/Initiative Opponents: This would pass one of the biggest tax increases in California history in the middle of a cataclysmically bad recession. And while small businesses are technically exempt, large landlords may end up passing the costs to some of their tenants and customers. (CalMatters)

Proposition 16

Repeals Prop. 209 (1996), which banned affirmative action. It 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. (Ballotpedia

Pros/Supporters: The Opportunity for All Coalition, also known as Yes on Prop 16, is leading the campaign. In the California State Legislature, Asm. Shirley Weber (D-79) was the lead sponsor. “Proposition 16 would reinstate affirmative action with race and sex-based preferences to the California Constitution.” Los Angeles Times: "In hiring and college admissions…race and gender are still automatic disadvantages that are difficult to overcome. (Ballotpedia)

Since passage of Prop 209, Black and Latinx admission rates to UC system campuses plummeted and have never recovered. One 2015 study from affirmative action supporters, estimated businesses with women and non-White owners lost out on $1 billion or more worth of government contracts as a result of the law. (The Mercury News)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: This year, as in previous ones, some of the most vocal and persistent opponents of affirmative action have been Chinese-American political activists. (CalMatters) Former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell (R) explains, "If more spaces are to be made for the under-represented, they must come from the over-represented. Asian Americans are 15.3 percent of Californians, yet 39.72 percent of UC enrollees. Those numbers are why bringing this issue forward now will divide Californians racially: Latino Americans and African Americans on one side, Asian Americans on the other.” (Ballotpedia)

Proposition 17

Provides a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to Californians who are on parole. According to an estimate from 2016, two thirds of people on parole in the state are Latino or Black. (CalMatters

Under California law, there is a distinction between probation and parole. Probation is the part of the criminal sentence, and allows those with felonies to avoid jail time. Parole begins upon release from prison, in advance of when the sentence ends. As of July 2020, the Calif. Constitution allows someone on probation to vote, but prohibits people on parole from voting until their parole is completed. This initiative allows all individuals on probation or parole to vote. (Wikipedia)

Pros/Supporters: Barring felons from voting has deep roots in Jim Crow. (Brennan Center for Justice) Among others, the initiative is supported by the California American Civil Liberties Union, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Vote Allies, White People 4 Black Lives and 118 organizations and local governments. (Wikipedia) Nineteen states allow people convicted of felonies, who are on parole, to vote. Two—Maine and Vermont—allow people who are imprisoned to vote. (Ballotpedia)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-4): "Let’s talk a little about the universe we are dealing with here. They include murderers, voluntary manslaughter, rape, sodomists. For those that commit the crimes, particularly the heinous crimes, part of their sentence is to complete the parole period." (Ballotpedia)

Opposers include Election Integrity Project California, Inc., Harriet Salarno, Founder of Crime Victims United of California, Jim Nielsen, retired Chairman of the California Board of Prison Terms, and Ruth Weiss, Vice President of the Election Integrity Project California.

Proposition 18

Provides a constitutional amendment that allows 17-year-olds, who will be 18 at the time of the next general election, to vote in primaries and special elections. (CalMatters and Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: 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. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State and others. (Ballotpedia) California Democratic legislators also support the increase of voting access. (CalMatters

Cons/Initiative Opponents: The Election Integrity Project California: "Seventeen-year-olds are legal minors. Under that definition, they are still considered children.” Most are still going to high school and living at home so they are under the influence of teachers and parents. Such conditions would not be conducive to independent thought. (Ballotpedia)

Proposition 19

Allows homeowners over 55, disabled or victims of natural disaster to take a portion of their property tax base with them when they sell their home and buy a new domicile. Additionally, anyone who inherits a home from their parents or grandparents could keep the low property taxes if they use the home as their primary residence on the first $1 million between the home’s original purchase price and its market value. Any money raised would go into a state fire response fund. (CalMatters, Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: Sponsored by the California Realtors and California Professional Firefighters union. Realtors say the current property tax rules trap empty-nesters in houses that are too big for them, thereby locking out new families. (CalMatters)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Because the measure would cost schools, counties and cities, it is opposed by organized labor and local government groups. (CalMatters

“The measure won’t contribute to the state’s crying need for more housing. It only reshuffles the existing deck…young buyers will still face high property taxes keyed to a purchase price. It’s advertised as reform, but it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a contrived tweak of an already convoluted tax system through a multimillion-dollar campaign that is being bankrolled by the real-estate industry.” (San Francisco Chronicle)  

Proposition 20

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. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures)

Would make specific types of theft and fraud crimes, including firearm theft, vehicle theft, and unlawful use of a credit card, chargeable as 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). 

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. (Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: Patricia Wenskunas, CEO of Crime Survivors Inc.: "When Californians voted on Proposition 57 in 2016, they were promised that it would apply only to "nonviolent" offenders… Most of us think that nonviolent offenders have committed low-level crimes, like personal drug use, petty theft or getting drunk in public. California voters are shocked to discover that human trafficking and domestic violence are on this list. As a victim's advocate, who works directly with victims of these and other horrific crimes, I can't express to you how dangerous and damaging this current classification is, and how vital it is to pass Proposition 20 to change it." (Ballotpedia)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Several of the largest crime victims’ organizations in California banded together to send out a letter—supported by district attorneys, state judges and crime victim organizations—to mayors across the state arguing that the initiative would be costly, increasing incarceration at inexplicable rates, and cutting down investments in rehabilitation services to assist in the healing process of crime survivors. (The Davis Vanguard Org) Others who oppose this initiative include Former Gov. Jerry Brown, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. (Ballotpedia)

Proposition 21

Allows local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Requires local governments that adopt rent control to allow landlords to increase rental rates by 15 percent during the first three years following a vacancy, above any increase allowed by local ordinance. Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures, CalMatters, Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: Renters and Homeowners United to Keep Families in Their Homes, also known as Yes on 21, leads the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. (Ballotpedia) Also funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. (CalMatters

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation: "Among the 17 million renters in California, the suffering is unabated. Not only do we see increased homelessness, but the affordability crisis has reached epic proportions with many people paying 50 percent or more of their income to keep a roof over their head." (Ballotpedia)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Among persons opposing this measure are Gov. Gavin Newsom: “Proposition 21, like Proposition 10 before it, runs the all-too-real risk of discouraging availability of affordable housing in our state." (Ballotpedia) The measure could reduce state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures) This measure does not allow property owners to make reasonable rent increases to maintain their properties. This will lead to decay of older properties.

Proposition 22

Establishes specific criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are “employees” or “independent contractors.” 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. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures) For more details about the initiative see Ballotpedia.

Pros/Supporters: U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and Transport Workers Union of America. Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (D-80): "These billion-dollar corporations still refuse to offer their workers what every other employee in California is entitled to: earning the minimum wage for all hours worked, social security, normal reimbursements for their costs, overtime pay, and the right to organize." (Ballotpedia)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Includes Lyft and Uber, California Chambers of Commerce for Blacks and Hispanics. Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber: (With this initiative) “Uber would only have full-time jobs for a small fraction of our current drivers and only be able to operate in many fewer cities than today. Rides would be more expensive, which would significantly reduce the number of rides people could take and, in turn, the number of drivers needed to provide those trips. Uber would not be as widely available to riders, and drivers would lose the flexibility they have today if they became employees." (Ballotpedia)

Proposition 23

At least one licensed onsite physician is required during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics; however, it 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 1) report dialysis-related infection data to state and federal governments; 2) gain state approval for clinics to close or reduce services; and 3) not discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures)

Pros/Supporters: Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection is leading the campaign for this initiative. (Ballotpedia) Kidney patients deserve better treatment than what they receive from many dialysis clinics, and these high-profit companies do not invested enough in patient safety. (CalMatters) Currently, two companies run these clinics, making a very healthy profit. They can afford to hire qualified staff to tend to their patients.

Cons/Initiative Opponents: The rise in dialysis treatment costs would increase state and local healthcare costs, likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures) The campaign Stop the Dangerous & Costly Dialysis Proposition provides a list of involved organizations on their website. (Ballotpedia), Opponents include the California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, Renal Physicians Association, and many other medical and patient advocacy groups.

Proposition 24

The initiative would expand or amend the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. It permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit business from using “sensitive personal information.” This would include 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 from retaining 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 imposes administrative fines. Requires adoption of substantive regulations. (Qualified Statewide Ballot Measures, Ballotpedia)

Pros/Supporters: Californians for Consumer Privacy is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. Other supporters include Andrew Yang and Common Sense. Alastair Mactaggart: “We need to ensure that the laws keep pace with the ever-changing ways corporations and other entities are using our data.” (Ballotpedia)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: California Consumer and Privacy Advocates Against Prop 24, also known as No on Prop 24, is leading the campaign in opposition to the initiative. Lists of individuals and groups opposed to this initiative are provided on Ballotpedia and CisionPRNewswire

“Flaws and reductions in privacy rights…are hidden in the ballot. They include: 

  • Enshrining Pay for Privacy schemes, which would provide superior internet and online services for those who pay more to protect their confidential information, and inferior service for the rest of Californians.

  • Postponing, for additional years workers' and job applicants' right to know, what personal non-job-related confidential information employers collect on them. Under current law, workers get the right to know on January 1, 2021.

  • Allowing tech companies to upload Californians' personal information the minute they travel outside the state's borders with a phone, device or computer. Under current California law, privacy follows a person wherever they go.

  • Allowing tech companies to ignore a universal "do not sell my information" electronic signal that can be programmed once into a phone or web browser, which businesses must honor under current law. Instead Prop 24 places an exhausting burden on consumers to notify each and every online business, website and app to not sell their information.” (CisionPRNewswire)

Proposition 25

Replaces cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial. (Ballotpedia) In 2018, acting on the advice of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, legislators passed a bill ending cash bail in California. Rather than letting people pay their way out of jail while they await trial, the law gives judges the right to determine whether someone who is arrested should be kept behind bars, based on the risk they are deemed to pose to themselves or others. (CalMatters)

Superior courts would be required to establish pretrial assessment divisions, which would be tasked with conducting risk assessments and making recommendations for conditions of release. Based on scientific research, the state Judicial Council would decide which risk assessment tools were valid for use. 

Pros/Supporters: Supported by the American Bail Coalition and Coalition for Reform. Additional supporters are listed on Ballotpedia. Supporters of Prop. 25 argue that the current cash bail system is unequal, alleging that nonviolent offenders who cannot afford bail are required to sit in jail for weeks or months awaiting their court day, whereas violent wealthy offenders can walk free.

Jonathan Underland, Yes on 25: “Money bail industry has only ever served to deepen racial injustice in the criminal justice system.” (Daily Californian, Aug 4, 2020)

Cons/Initiative Opponents: Largely funded by the bail bond industry. (CalMatters

“Opponents of Prop. 25 argue that risk assessment tools create more biased outcomes against people of color and low-income communities. Opponents also argue that Prop. 25 puts public safety at risk and places additional burdens on police departments to ensure defendants show up for court dates.

“According to No on Prop. 25, the proposition will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, and the costs of building and administering the policy would make the state’s current budget crisis worse.” (Daily Californian, Aug 4, 2020)


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