California Ballot Initiatives: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the Ugliest

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From the California Globe:

There are twelve ballot measures certified to appear on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

California Globe has broken them down as the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and Uglier, with the analysis and recommendations of Assemblyman Kevin KileyBallotpedia, the California Chamber of CommerceHoward Jarvis Taxpayers Association, as well as our own reporting on these issues.

The Good Ones

Keeping Uber in California (Prop. 22)

California Proposition 22, App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Liberates drivers from AB 5, one of the most disgraceful laws in state history (which is saying something). If this fails, get excited about riding taxis again as hundreds of thousands of rideshare drivers will be out of work. I will be proudly voting YES.”

CA Globe: “Assembly Bill 5, the bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) has greatly limited Californians’ ability to work as independent contractors and freelancers. The bill has impacted more than 300 industries in California.”

“The governor budgeted $20 Million for AB5 enforcement in the budget. ‘That’s 20 million $ to turn California’s Employment Development Department into the KGB,’ Sen. Shannon Grove said.”

CalChamber Supports.

HJTA: “Proposition 22 was put on the ballot by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. It would create an exemption from AB 5 for the companies’ drivers, while providing them with basic benefits and protections. Without this exemption, the companies would likely stop offering their services in California, depriving state residents of convenient and affordable transportation and delivery services. VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 22.”

Making Crime Illegal Again (Prop. 20)

California Proposition 20, Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Partially reverses both Prop. 47, which empowered calculator-wielding thieves to repeatedly steal up to $950 of merchandise; and Prop. 57, which prematurely released ‘non-violent’ domestic abusers, sex traffickers, and arsonists. I will be enthusiastically voting YES.”

CalChamber: Restricts Parole for Non-Violent Offenders. CalChamber Supports.

Proposition 20 fixes four specific flaws contained in recent criminal justice reforms — addressing violent crime classification and serial theft, as well as parole reform and DNA collection.

Prop. 20 is supported by:

Crime Victims United President Nina Salarno Besselman

Crime Survivors, Inc. Founder/CEO Patricia Wenskunas

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove)

Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield)

Organization for Justice and Equality President Frank Lee

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer

California Police Chiefs Association Imm. Past President Ron Lawrence

Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri

California Grocers Association President Ron Fong

California Retailers Association President Rachel Michelin

The Bad Ones

Tweaking the Classic Prop. 13 (Prop. 19)

California Proposition 19, Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment (2020)

Kiley: “Makes property tax protections more portable but less heritable: will lower your taxes if you move, but potentially raise them for your kids when they inherit your home. I will be ambivalently NO.”

HJTA: “Proposition 19 takes away important taxpayer protections that have been enshrined in the State Constitution since 1986. Proposition 19 eliminates Proposition 58, which allows parents to transfer a home and limited other property to their children without an increase in property taxes, and a similar measure, Proposition 193, which gives the same protection to transfers between grandparents and grandchildren if the children’s parents are deceased. Proposition 19 would require property transferred within families to be reassessed to market value as of the date of transfer, resulting in a huge property tax increase for long-held family homes.”

“This is a billion-dollar tax increase on California families. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 19.”

Massive Stem Cell Funding – Again (Prop 14)

California Proposition 14, Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Borrows $5.5 billion more for California’s stem cell agency. Stem cell research still has promise, but after 14 years and $3 billion, this conflict-of-interest-plagued agency has little to show for it. I will be regretfully voting NO.”

HJTA: “In 2004, voters approved $3 billion for a publicly funded stem-cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to support research into new treatments and possible cures. The money has been spent, and the backers of Proposition 14 want voters to approve $5.5 billion more. But CIRM has been widely criticized for inefficiency and insider dealing. Moreover, the federal government and private enterprise are now funding stem-cell research. Proposition 14 fails to address issues of accountability and oversight in the spending of previously approved public funds. These new bonds will cost taxpayers $2.3 billion just in interest payments, drawing $260 million out of the budget every year for three decades. Proposition 14 is not necessary and it’s especially unwise at this time, when there are so many demands on taxpayers. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 14.”

The Ugly Ones

Voting Rights for the Kiddies (Prop. 18)

California Proposition 18, Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment (2020)

Kiley: “Lets some (but not all) 17-year-olds vote in some (but not all) elections. Perhaps a precursor to voting booths in nurseries. For the time being, get ready for furious campaigning at Dave & Buster’s. I will be bemusedly voting NO.”

HJTA: “While some states allow this, California is different than other states because under Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, tax increases must go on the ballot for voter approval. These proposed tax increases are frequently on primary and special election ballots. Proposition 18 would allow high school students to vote on tax increases. This is unwise. The voting age in California should not be changed. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 18.”

Voting for Convicted Felons (Prop. 17)

California Proposition 17, Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment (2020)

Kiley: “Makes active voters out of active felons, letting them cast a ballot (or even run for office) before they complete parole. Such individuals would be eligible to vote on, say, Prop. 20 above. I will be disbelievingly voting NO.”

CA Globe: “Restores voting rights to convicted felons immediately upon release from prison. Many law enforcement and citizens groups have come out against ACA 6, citing that it would not reduce former prisoners rates of going back to prison, and that a felony is a large enough crime to not allow someone to vote.”

“Election Integrity Project California, one such group opposing ACA 6, has argued fastidiously against the bill.  “A period of parole gives the former criminal powerful reminders of what true liberty is by withholding just enough of it to incentivize further appropriate behavior so as to earn the rights just beyond the fingertip.” EIP said.”

The Uglier Ones

New Tools for Big Brother (Prop. 24)

California Proposition 24, Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Unites the ACLU and Republican Party in opposition with 52 pages of confusing ‘data privacy’ rules enforced by an Orwellian new government agency. In fairness, Andrew Yang is for it. I will be warily voting NO.”

HJTA: “In 2018, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed the California Consumer Privacy Act, which gave state residents more rights and control over how their data is shared when they go online. The CCPA took effect this year, and businesses have worked to learn the new legal requirements and comply with them. Proposition 24 is a new privacy law to replace the CCPA. It changes the rules before we even know if they’re working well. Worse, it creates a new state agency to write and enforce regulations that have the effect of new laws, but that no elected official will vote on. This new agency will cost taxpayers $10 million a year, but it will cost California businesses far more. Companies will be effectively forced to hire lawyers to review every technological change or upgrade in order to show the new agency that they are in compliance. This will be a great advantage to the largest companies, because many small start-up companies will not be able to afford the legal bills to file the compliance documents, or the cost of defending themselves from complaints, even meritless complaints. The regulatory burden will strangle technological innovation in California and protect tech giants while hurting small businesses. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 24.”

CA Globe: “The law was modeled after a similar overarching law adopted by the European Union in May 2018, and appears to be a tremendous expensive and time-consuming burden on businesses of all sizes, but particularly small and medium sized businesses, giving attorneys predatory opportunities similar to California’s thriving ADA lawsuit business.” (Read more HERE)

According to John Kabatek of the National Federation of Independent Business California:

  • Only about one-third of California businesses are prepared to comply with the CCPA costs.
  • An independent analysis conducted for the state Attorney General’s office estimates the initial compliance costs at $55 billion, affecting 75 percent of the state’s businesses.
  • Initial compliance costs for affected small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be about $50,000 per company this year alone. For companies between 20-100 employees, expect double that amount. Those with more than 100-500 employees face $450,000 for the CCPA, and large companies can expect to pay $2 million or more.
  • The analysis estimated up to $16.9 billion to comply with the implementing rules over the next decade. These ongoing costs are related to software and website modifications, updated data inventories and collection (as the law fails to define “personal information”), new consumer interface processes to respond to consumer requests, employee retraining, legal counsel, and security protocols.

Letting Siri Release Criminals (Prop. 25)

California Proposition 25, Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum (2020)

Kiley: “Replaces cash bail with a ‘risk assessment’ algorithm for pre-trial release. In the best hands, this is not ready for prime time; in the technologically challenged hands of California government, it’s a disaster in the making. I will be soberly voting NO.”

CA Globe: “For the past several years, advocates for change have championed the use of risk assessment tools.  Based on algorithms, they claimed their use would allow us to predict which defendants would be a danger to not appear and/or a threat to commit further offenses.”

“The bonding industry provides a high level of supervision.”

“The past two years has seen the bottom fall out for support of these risk assessments.  Twenty-seven leading university academics from Harvard, MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley and Columbia signed a joint statement last July, declaring that inherent problems with risk assessments could not be remedied and that these tools should not be used as a part of criminal justice reform.”

The Ugliest Ones

Equality Is So 20th Century (Prop. 16)

California Proposition 16, Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment (2020)

Kiley: “Repeals a 1996 voter initiative that outlawed discrimination on the ‘basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin’ in state universities and public hiring. An attempt by politicians to duck responsibility for failed K-12 education policies that have widened achievement gaps. I will be indignantly voting NO.”

CA Globe: “Proposition 16, on the November ballot, would repeal Prop. 209 and divide Californians by making discrimination legal in California.”

“‘The effort to repeal Prop. 209 totally fails to recognize that the true culprit for the difficulties of underrepresented minorities gaining entrance into the University of California system lies not with Prop. 209’s anti-discrimination language, but with the failure of the California’s public K-12 system to adequately prepare these students for higher education,’ Education scholar Lance Izumi said.”

“If legislators, policymakers, and educators truly want to improve the chances for success for underrepresented minority children, then they should avoid divisive identity politics and get to the hard work of offering better education alternatives for all children in California.”

Death to Dialysis Patients (Prop. 23)

California Proposition 23, Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Another attempt by a large union to swell its ranks by endangering the lives of dialysis patients. Imposes senseless mandates that will raise costs and close clinics. Medical groups and patient advocates are unanimously opposed. I will be disgustedly voting NO.”

No on Prop. 23: “Approximately 80,000 Californians with kidney failure rely on dialysis to stay alive. Proposition 23 would put dialysis patients’ lives at risk and hurt all Californians by making us wait longer to see our doctors and increasing health care costs by hundreds of millions annually.”

Ballotpedia: “Proposition 8, like this year’s dialysis-related ballot initiative, had the support of the SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers. Proposition 8 established a new front in the conflict between the SEIU-UHW West and the state’s two largest dialysis businesses, DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care. The SEIU-UHW West said workers at dialysis clinics have been attempting to unionize since 2016, but that their employers were retaliating against pro-union employees. Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita, argued that “Proposition 8 puts California patients at risk in an effort to force unionization of employees.”[3] Sean Wherley, a spokesperson for the SEIU-UHW West, contended that dialysis workers “want these [initiative] reforms regardless of what happens with their union efforts.”[4]

From the Ash Heap of History (Prop. 21)

California Proposition 21, Local Rent Control Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Rent control has failed miserably everywhere it’s been tried – including as an initiative on our 2018 ballot. But Bernie Sanders and company are back, with a new measure to further deplete our already feeble housing stock. Even Gavin Newsom is opposed. I will be *again* voting NO.”

CA Globe: “According to a Legislative Analyst’s Office study made public earlier this week, the ballot initiative expanding rent control, Proposition 21, would lead to more severe repercussions for Californians, including a reduction of available rental units and a drop in housing values.”

“Prop. 21 would ‘allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.’ If it’s rejected, the current law of prohibiting rent control in rentals built in 1995 or after would stand.”

“The LAO study found that, if Prop. 21 is passed, cities would receive less in overall property taxes due to a decline in rental property tax payments. The huge drop in revenue would lead to close to $100 million in lost state and local revenue per year. The LAO also found that many landlords would sell rentals as a result, leading to a reduction units, most notably, affordable units, in favor of houses and buildings going on the market.”

HJTA: “Proposition 21 would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and allow unelected rent boards (or elected rent boards) to impose radical rent control and regulations, even on single-family homes. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 21.”

Biggest. Tax Increase. Ever. (Prop. 15) Prop. 13 Split Roll initiative

California Proposition 15, Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative (2020)

Kiley: “Takes a sledgehammer to the classic Prop. 13, tearing down California’s one pillar of fiscal sanity. Raises taxes $11.5 billion per year. Kills even more small businesses. Destroys even more jobs. Further spikes the cost of living. And make no mistake: your home is next. I will be prayerfully voting NO.”

HJTA: “This is the treacherous ‘split roll’ property tax, a direct attack on Proposition 13. Proposition 15 would repeal part of Prop. 13 and require reassessment to market value of business properties. It would raise taxes on supermarkets, shopping malls, office buildings, factories, movie theaters, hotels, restaurants, sports stadiums, warehouses, self-storage facilities, major retailers and other businesses where Californians work or shop. Even the smallest businesses that lease space will face higher rents, or will have to pay the higher property taxes as part of their ‘triple net’ lease agreement. Those higher costs are passed on to consumers. Proposition 15 would raise prices, increase the cost of living and put countless jobs at risk as companies cut back or leave the state. The proponents of this measure are seeking to weaken Proposition 13, and we can guess why. They could come after homeowners next. Protect Prop. 13. VOTE NO on PROPOSITION 15.”

CA Globe: “Under the split roll ballot initiative to split residential and commercial/industrial properties, tax increase proponents recently admitted that they will redefine commercial and industrial structures to include barns, food processing structures for eggs, broccoli, citrus, lettuces, wineries, almonds, and just about anything that grows in the ground and that Californians and the rest of the country eats.”

“Milking barns, packing houses, processing facilities, and wineries would all be reassessed annually at current market value. But what these tax increase proponents miss is that almonds, fresh eggs, lemons and oranges and broccoli don’t just get picked in the field and end up on your plate – it takes many processes to make the food ready to sell in a grocery or neighborhood market.”

“Under Proposition 13 in 1978, the specificity of the property tax initiative defined real property as: land, fixtures, improvements. The new initiative is redefining these three steadfast definitions of real property, and what is taxable.”

“Backers of the property tax split roll include labor unions, social justice groups, teachers unions, environmental groups, housing advocates, Democratic Mayors of California cities, Democratic Presidential candidates, and Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area philanthropic organizations: The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, East Bay Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, Northern California Grantmakers Association, The San Francisco Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.”

Read more from California Globe HERE.


  1. Outstanding assessment of CA propositions
    Voters every state toss lies to State Voter Guide
    Use a great No Party Reference

    Easy way to remember CA Propositions
    YES 20 AND 22
    (16 17 18 19 21 23 24 25)

  2. Most propositions are easy to decide. If it is a tax or bond vote no the govt has enough of our money. If it is backed by the unions vote no they just want more power and control. If it talks about what is fair it is a con. the rest you have to look at and decide for yourself

  3. BIG NO on 15 & 19 as these two are opening the door to the next tax grab taking away your PROPOSITION 13 protection.

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