2020 California Ballot Initiatives

14 – Stem Cell Research Funding – Shall California issue $5.5 billion of general obligation bonds, to be repaid from the state’s General Fund, to support everything from research to facilities to administration.  $1.5 billion reserved for brain-related diseases.

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You are a research scientist specializing in life sciences, you have a clear understanding of the entire state budget and how these funds would be allocated.
    • You have little idea about either life sciences or the state budget, but think voters just have to do legislators’ jobs for them.
    • You just want to stick it to religious fundamentalists and panicky luddites.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You believe that you are paying your elected representative to allocate the state budget and decide what is worth issuing public debt for.
    • You believe that there is plenty of private investment capital available for biotech research, and Federal money now funds this research, too.
    • You have some idea of the state budget deficit California is headed for, and what it will mean for schools.
  • For More Information:  Cal Matters, Fullerton Observer, National Institutes of Health

15 – End Prop 13 Property Tax Protections for Commercial Real Estate – Shall California allow commercial real estate to be taxed at current market value, instead of by the formula established by California’s 1978 ballot initiative, Proposition 13? Residential real estate would still be taxed according to Proposition 13.

  • Recommend: Yes
  • Vote YES if:
    • You are against all “rent control for real estate owners,” and this is a big first step to ending it.
    • Whatever you think about residential real estate and Proposition 13, you think commercial real estate never should have received Proposition 13’s property tax protections.
    • You are sick and tired of seeing amateurish local businesses occupying all the local storefronts, and would kill for a few more Olive Gardens.
  • Vote NO if:
    • Whatever you think about commercial real estate, you worry that ending any part of Proposition 13’s tax protections will eventually mean that your home will be taxed according to its current market value.
    • You don’t want to see any tax increases in California, for any reason.
    • You saw a school teacher driving a better car than you have, and it has to end here.
  • For More Information:  Los Angeles Times, Edsource

16 – Reverse Prop 209 to Allow Consideration of Race, Gender, Sex, Color and National Origin in Decisions About Employment and School Admissions – Shall California let government decision-making policies allow consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin, thereby repealing a constitutional provision prohibiting such consideration?

  • Recommend: No
  • Vote YES if:
    • It broke your heart to see how enrollment of black and brown people fell in the wake of Proposition 209’s passing.
    • You believe that 2020’s summer of unrest is proof that we must redistribute resources and privileges more broadly, and now.
    • Your children are about to apply to college, and you’re pretty sure one of your grandparents was from Ecuador.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You believe that quotas beget prejudice.
    • You believe that reinstituting racial preferences will only make it easier to ignore the way California ignores school quality in black and brown neighborhoods.
    • You are of Asian descent, and the deck is stacked against your kids too much already.

17 – Restore Right to Vote After Prison – Shall California’s state constitution be amended restore voting rights, immediately upon release from prison, to individuals convicted of felonies.  

  • Recommend: Yes
  • Vote YES if:
    • You believe that a felony should not strip someone’s voting rights permanently
    • Prejudice and unequal access to legal resources leave you unwilling to link voting rights to felony convictions.
    • It’s all about Dems vs Republicans, and you believe that your political party will be well served by the ex-convict vote.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You are willing to restore voting rights, but only after individuals have completed both prison term and parole.
    • You believe that a prison term is really just a down-payment on punishment for serious crime
    • You don’t believe that hooey about justice only being for the pale and the rich.
    • It’s all about Dems vs Republicans, and you believe your political party might be weakened by the ex-convict vote.

18 – Let 17-Year-Olds Vote in Primaries – Shall California’s state constitution be amended to let 17-year-olds vote in political primaries if they will be eligible to vote by current rules in the next general election?

  • Recommend:  No
    • Vote YES if:
    • You think we’ve proven that age and experience don’t make good voters anyway, so let the kids have a try.
    • You are concerned that your children’s teachers aren’t doing enough political lobbying in the classroom yet.
  • Vote No if:
    • You would rather not change a state constitution for a largely symbolic gesture.
    • You think the voting age should really be whatever your age is now, maybe older.
    • You fear what this might do for dinner conversations with your high schooler.

19 – Changes Calculation of Property Tax Basis in Various Ways – Shall California’s state constitution be amended to reduce tax protections for some inheritors of real estate, and to extend tax protections to homeowners over 55 years old who move to new homes?

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You believe that inherited property should be taxed at current market value unless it is a farm or it will become the primary residence of the person inheriting it.
    • You want to limit any additional tax burdens on people forced to move because of disability or natural disaster.
    • You’re pretty sure this might benefit firefighters, even if you don’t know whether this amendment will generate additional revenues.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You think property owners have enough tax exemptions already.
    • You don’t care at all about the thousands forced from their homes due to disabilities and recent wildfires.
    • You suspect that there aren’t enough “East Coast Investors” to warrant such a constitutional amendment.
  • For More Information:  Cal Matters, Daily Breeze, The Mercury News, Reason

20 – Restricts Parole Opportunity for People Convicted of Specific Crimes – Shall we make people convicted of specific offenses serve their full prison sentences instead of offering earlier release and parole?  Also, shall we require law enforcement to collect DNA samples from adults convicted of certain misdemeanors?  

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You believe that parole boards should not decide when a prisoner is safe to release.
    • You think your DNA is collected when you give a regular blood test, so why should any criminal worry about giving a sample to the police?
    • You understand that California reduced its prison population by 18% in 2020, and don’t want remaining prisoners to get lonely.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You agree that parole boards are better suited than voters to making parole decisions.
    • You would rather focus on what crimes to imprison people for than on keeping more people imprisoned for longer.
    • DNA anonymity is the only thing keeping you out of prison.

21 – Expending Local Government Authority to Enact Residential Rent Control.  Shall California allow local governments to establish rent control on properties over 15 years old?

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if: 
    • You believe we have already accepted the concept of rent control, and now it is time to eliminate the loopholes.
    • You understand that we will have to change California’s rent control regulations sometime, or the proportion of rent-controlled housing will keep diminishing as new housing is built.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You understand that a rolling 15-year exemption would reduce investment in new housing, diminishing housing availability for your children and new arrivals.
    • You are opposed to rent control in any form.
    • Your landlord raised your Mill Valley rent by 25% this year.
  • For More Information:  San Francisco Chronicle, Reason Foundation

22 – Exempt Uber, Lyft and Delivery Companies from Having to Classify Drivers as Employees – Shall companies providing app-based taxi and delivery services be able to classify their drivers as independent contractors?

  • Recommend: Yes
  • Vote YES if:
    • You believe that adults should be able to decide how to do business with each other.
    • The Uber drivers you’ve met have seemed able to take care of themselves, and none of them has slipped you a note saying “Please help me!”
    • You just want cheap rides and food delivery.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You believe that California AB5 is good legislation, and the First Appellate District court in San Francisco was right to enforce it.
    • You don’t believe that Uber and Lyft would ever leave their home markets and you want to call their bluffs.
    • Even if you don’t have any clear evidence that it’s true, you keep reading about how the gig economy is wrecking things for everyone and feel compelled to do something. 
  • For More Information:  The Verge, NPR, Ride Share Guy

23 – Regulates Kidney Dialysis Clinics, Requiring Doctors During Treatment Hours – Shall dialysis clinics be required to keep a doctor on-site during treatment hours, and shall these clinics be required to report infections and accept more forms of insurance coverage?

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You believe that dialysis clinics have been providing poor quality care and failing to serve poorer patients, and you believe that putting a doctor in each one will at least improve treatment quality.
    • You believe that dialysis clinics are highly profitable, and you would like to make them invest more in their operations and keep more of them in poorer neighborhoods.
    • You understand that DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care have become an oligopoly, and this is a sensible next step in regulating them.
    • You believe that most of the media coverage of this has been bought by dialysis providers.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You suspect that this proposition is not focused on patient safety or equity, but is really a labor union’s attempt to secure more compensation for its members.
    • You understand that having a doctor on site is unlikely to reduce infections or the other major risks faced by dialysis patients.
    • You are swayed by the fact that few newspapers have advocated for this ballot measure.
  • For More Information:  Cal Matters, KQED, San Francisco Chronicle

24 – Amends Consumer Privacy Laws – Shall California allow consumers to prevent businesses from sharing personal information; correct inaccurate personal information held by businesses; and limit business’ use of certain types of “sensitive” personal information?

  • Recommend:  No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You are offended that, under the current law, “sharing” data OK, even while selling it can be prohibited
    • You tend to trust the ACLU, and the original sponsor of the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act, on matters of data privacy.
    • You don’t think Californians will get a better opportunity if this bill fails.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You supported the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act, and you want “opt out” to remain the default for businesses collecting personal information about Californians.
    • You are concerned that Common Sense Media opposes Prop. 24, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is neutral
    • You trust that Alastair Mactaggart will come back with a better version if Proposition 24 fails. 
  • For More Information:  Cal Matters, New York Times

25 – Referendum on Law Replacing Money Bail With Assessment of Public Safety and Flight Risk – Shall California cease to use money bail as a condition for persons accused of crimes being released from jail before their trial?

  • Recommend: No
  • Vote YES if:
    • You are most concerned about innocent people being incarcerated, sometimes for longer than they would be for being convicted of the charges against them, just because they lack funds to pay bail.
    • You believe that a money bail system will always discriminate against the poor.
    • You worry that prosecutors abuse pre-trial detention to obtain guilty pleas or harsher plea bargains. 
    • You miss your sugar.
  • Vote NO if:
    • You watched New York’s no-bail experiment with horror, want to see that work before we try it in California.
    • You believe that an opaque set of standards for pre-trial release will wind up keeping just as many innocent people behind bars, reducing recourse for many.
    • You didn’t read about why New York tried the no-bail system, after stories of teens locked up for over 18 months, awaiting trial for crimes as serious as stealing a $30 backpack.
    • You know money bail is unjust, but would like to see it changed, not erased.

For More Information:  The Marshall Project, Cal Matters

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