New California Propositions
December 17, 2020
California voters saw twelve propositions on the ballot as a part of the November 3, 2020 election. The Californian majority voted “yes” on five out of the twelve offered: Propositions 14, 17, 19, 22, and 24.
Proposition 14, the Stem Cell Research Bond Initiative, proposed $5.5 billion in California general obligation bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It also proposed the expansion of this stem cell research initiative and the allocation of $1.5 billion of the bond funds to further research other medical conditions that affect the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and epilepsy. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine ran out of its provided funds from Proposition 71, The Research and Cures Initiative, passed in 2014, which founded CIRM on $3 billion in financial support. As of October, 2019, the CIRM had only $132 million left from Proposition 71, motivating Proposition 14. One issue that some Californians saw with Proposition 14 was its cost: according to the ballot summary, it will result in “increased state costs… estimated at about $260 million per year over the next roughly 30 years.” These costs comprise “less than 1 percent of the state’s current General Fund budget.”
The second proposal that a majority of Californians supported was Proposition 17, the Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment. Proposition 17 advocated allowing people on parole for felony convictions to vote. Previously, the State Constitution prohibited parolees from voting; this proposition enables an estimated 50,000 parolees to vote. To clarify, California nevertheless does not allow those in a state or federal prison, those serving state prison felony sentences, those awaiting transfer to a state or federal prison, or those jailed for parole violation to vote. Seventeen of the nineteen U.S. states that allow convicted felons to vote do not allow them to vote while in prison. As of 2020, only Maine and Vermont allow convicted felons to vote while in prison.
The third approved proposition was Proposition 19, the Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildlife Agencies and Counties Amendment. This will allow homeowners over 55, those who are disabled, or any victims of wildfires or other disasters to transfer their tax assessments to other homes up to three times. Previously, these homeowners could only transfer their tax assessments once, causing many to hesitate to move to more expensive homes out of fear of higher tax rates. Proposition 19 will also lead some inherited homes to be reassessed at market value. This change contrasts Proposition 13, passed in June, 1978, which favored those living in inherited homes by allowing them to maintain their inherited, lower property taxes. Proposition 19 stops this from happening unless inheritors move into their homes within a year of acquiring the property and use the home as their main residence.
The fourth proposition that the majority of Californians approved was Proposition 22, the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative. This allows for Uber drivers and other app-based transportation and delivery drivers to be considered independent contractors rather than employees. According to Ballotpedia, Proposition 22 is the most expensive ballot measure in California history. It overruled Assembly Bill 5, passed by the legislature and signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which operated on the assumption that workers are employees unless the hiring business can meet the requirements of the ABC Test, a three-part employment assessment. A few benefits that app-based drivers get from this proposal is that companies now must provide death insurance for drivers if they die while using the app. As well, drivers cannot work for more than 12 hours in a 24 hour time period unless they have logged off the app for six hours without interruptions. Lastly, companies must now ensure that drivers’ on-the-job accident insurance covers at least $1 million in possible medical costs.
The final proposition that passed was Proposition 24, the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative. This broadens California’s consumer privacy laws by protecting buyers from having personal information shared by businesses and limiting businesses from sharing consumer information such as location, health, race, etc. Proposition 24 also requires businesses to ask permission to get data from those under 16 and to ask for a guardian’s permission to get information about a child who is younger than 13 years old. This proposal will prevent buyers’ personal information from being shared without their consent, and it will make the punishment greater for businesses responsible for any violation issues that involve those under the age of 16.
While the lasting impacts of Propositions 14, 17, 19, 22, and 24 are yet to be seen, hopefully, their institution will prove a smooth process that is ultimately beneficial to all.