2020 State Ballot Propositions
Below are summaries of the upcoming November Ballot Initiatives. We will update with OCTax's position on each as we get closer to the election.
Authorizes bonds to continue funding stem cells and other medical research
Prop 71 passed by voters in 2004 established and funded the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Prop 71 issued $3.0 billion in bonds to finance the CIRM and established a state constitutional right to stem cell research.
Prop 14 would authorize $5.5 Billion in General Obligation Bonds to go to the CIRM, increase the members of their oversight committee from 29 to 35 and add a 4th working group which would focus on increasing access to treatment and cures. It would cap the number of full-time bond funded CIRM employees to 70 plus 15 dedicated to improving access to treatment as well as establishing a training program for undergraduates and fellowships for grad students in stem cell research, treatments and cures.
No more than 7.5% of the bond proceeds could be spent on operations with $1.5 Billion being spent on brain and nervous system diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Fiscal Impact: Authorizes $5.5 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund grants from CIRM. Limits bond issuance to $540 million annually. General Obligation Bonds are paid off through the state general budget.
A yes vote will allow the state to sell bonds to fund CIRM and stem cell research. A no vote would not authorize the sale of bonds.
In 1978 voters passed historic Proposition 13, which required that residential, commercial, and industrial properties be taxed at their purchase property all at the same rate. The tax is limited to no more than 1% of the purchase price with yearly increases capped at 2%. Prop 15 would weaken historic Prop 13 and put into place a “split-roll” system that would tax commercial and industrial properties differently. They would be taxed at market value. Revenue would first be distributed to (a) the state to supplement decreases in revenue from the state's personal income tax and corporation tax due to increased tax deductions and (b) counties to cover the costs of implementing the measure. After that 60 percent of the remaining funds would be distributed to local governments and special districts, and 40 percent would be distributed to school districts and community colleges (via a new Local School and Community College Property Tax Fund). Revenue appropriated for education would be divided as follows: 11% for community colleges and 89% for public schools, charter schools, and county education offices.
Owners of businesses, large and small, all across California already struggling with a loss of business due to COVID-19 will simply pass this tax increase on to their consumers. How much more can you afford to pay when you go into the grocery store, go out to eat, shop at a hardware store, take your pet to the groomers or vet, go to the drug store…. the list in endless.
Fiscal Impact: A tax increase of anywhere between $8-$12 Billion on all taxpayers in California.
OCTax strongly recommends a NO vote on Proposition 15. Historic Prop 13 must be protected from Sacramento and those that want to continue to increase taxes on Californians. For more detailed information on Split Roll and Proposition 15 click here.
Increases funding for local school, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment for commercial and industrial property.
Prop 209 passed in 1996 banned discrimination or preferential treatment that uses a person or group’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting. California was the first state to ban affirmative action.
Prop 16 would repeal Prop 209, removing that language from our state constitution. State government, local governments, public universities, and other public entities would be allowed to consider race, sex, color, and national origin, within the limits of federal law, in public employment, public education, and public contracting. This initiative was placed on the ballot by the CA State Legislature.
A yes vote will return affirmative action practices to California. A no vote continues the ban on affirmative action.
The California Constitution states that convicted felons cannot vote until their imprisonment and parole are completed. Prop 17 would allow people on parole for a felony conviction to vote in California. Those imprisoned would still not be allowed to vote. 19 other states allow felons either imprisoned or on parole the ability to vote. This initiative was placed on the ballot by the CA State Legislature.
A yes vote allows convicted felons on parole to vote. A no vote keeps the current law in place where convicted felons need to complete parole before they are allowed to vote.
Disqualifications of Electors
This ballot initiative would allow 17 year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary and special elections. 18 other states and Washington DC have this law on their books. This initiative was placed on the ballot by the CA State Legislature.
A yes vote allows 17 year-olds to vote in primary or special elections if they turn 18 by the next general election. A no vote keeps the current law in place.
The voters passed historic Proposition 13 overwhelmingly in 1978. Several initiatives were subsequently passed that amended Prop 13 to change who can transfer their home’s taxable value and how the transfers work; Prop 58 (1986), Prop 60 (1986), Prop 90 (1988), and Prop 193 (1996). Homeowners who are eligible for tax assessment transfers are persons over 55 years old, persons with severe disabilities, and victims of natural disasters and hazardous waste contamination. Eligible homeowners can transfer their tax assessments to a different home of the same or lesser market value within any county that agrees to participate in the program, which allows them to move without paying higher taxes. Prop 19 would change the rules for tax assessment transfers. Prop 19 would allow eligible homeowners to transfer their tax assessments anywhere within the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment; increase the number of times that persons over 55 years old or with severe disabilities can transfer their tax assessments from one to three; require that inherited homes that are not used as principal residences, such as second homes or rentals, be reassessed at market value when transferred; and allocate additional revenue or net savings resulting from the ballot measure to wildfire agencies and counties. Inherited homes must be used as a principal residence to keep their Prop 13 evaluation.
Prop 19 would create the California Fire Response Fund (CFRF) and County Revenue Protection Fund (CRPF). It would require the California Director of Finance to calculate additional revenues and net savings resulting from the ballot measure. The California State Controller would be required to deposit 75 percent of the calculated revenue to the Fire Response Fund and 15 percent to the County Revenue Protection Fund. The County Revenue Protection Fund would be used to reimburse counties for revenue losses related to the measure's property tax changes. The Fire Response Fund would be used to fund fire suppression staffing and full-time station-based personnel. This initiative was placed on the ballot by the CA State Legislature.
Fiscal Impact: Possibly tens of millions of dollars in increased revenue due to home ownership changes and increased home sales would go to CFRF and CRPF.
A yes vote would make the above changes. A no vote would keep current law in place.
The home protection for seniors, severely disabled, families, and victims of wildfire or natural disasters act
Restricts parole for non-violent offenders. Authorizes felony sentences for certain offensives currently treated only as misdemeanors
AB 109 (2011), Prop 47 (2014) and Prop 51 (2016) were three measures passed to reduce the state’s prison inmate population. The U.S Supreme Court had ruled that over crowding in prisons had resulted in cruel and unusual punishment and ordered the state to make changes. AB 109 shifted the imprisonment of those who the state considered non-violent, non-serious and non-sexual offenders from state prisons to local jails and made counties, rather than states, responsible for supervising certain felons on parole.
Prop 47 changed several crimes, which the measure considered non-violent, non-serious from felonies or wobblers (could be a misdemeanor or felony) to misdemeanors. Prop 57 increased parole chances for felons convicted of what the state defined as non-violent crimes. Prop 20 would amend these three initiatives. Prop 20 would make specific types of theft and fraud crimes, including firearm theft, vehicle theft, and unlawful use of a credit card, chargeable as misdemeanors or 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. Prop 20 would require persons convicted of certain misdemeanors that were classified as wobblers or felonies before 2014, such as 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. It would require a parole review board to consider additional factors, such as the felon's age, marketable skills, attitude about the crime, and mental condition, as well as the circumstances of the crimes committed, before deciding whether to release a felon on parole. The ballot initiative would allow prosecutors to request a review of the board's final decision. The ballot initiative would also define 51 crimes and sentence enhancements as violent in order to exclude them from the parole review program.
Fiscal Impact: Increased cost to state and local correctional, court-related, and law enforcement costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually.
A yes vote would make the above changes. A no vote keeps the results of AB 109, Prop 47 and Prop 51 in place.
Prop 21 would replace the Costa-Hawkins Renting Housing Act passed in 1995. Prop 21 would allow local governments to adopt rent control on housing units, except on (a) housing that was first occupied within the last 15 years and (b) units owned by natural persons who own no more than two housing units with separate titles, such as single-family homes, condos, and some duplexes, or subdivided interests, such as stock cooperatives and community apartment projects. Under Costa-Hawkins, landlords are allowed to increase rent prices to market rates when a tenant moves out. Prop 21 would require local governments that adopt rent control to allow landlords to increase rental rates by 15 percent during the first three years following a vacancy.
Fiscal Impact: Potential reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year if passed.
A yes vote would allow local governments to adopt the above rent control policy. A no vote keeps the current law in place.
Expands local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property
Employment classification rules for App-based transportation and delivery drivers
AB 5 passed in 2019 established a three-factor test to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an actual employee. Prop 22 would override AB 5 and consider app-based drivers to be independent contractors and not employees. Prop 22 would define app-based drivers as workers who (a) provide delivery services on an on-demand basis through a business’s online-enabled application or platform or (b) use a personal vehicle to provide prearranged transportation services for compensation via a business’s online-enabled application or platform. Examples of companies that hire app-based drivers include Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash. Prop 22 would not affect how AB 5 is applied to other types of workers. Prop 22 would also enact labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies, including a net earnings floor based on 120 percent of the state's or municipality's minimum wage and 30 cents per mile; a limit to the hours permitted to work during a 24-hour period; healthcare subsidies; occupational accident insurance; and accidental death insurance. Prop 22 would require the companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies
Fiscal Impact: Increase in state personal income tax revenue if passed.
A yes vote would remove app-based drivers from AB 5 enforcement. A no vote would keep the current law as written.
In 2018 voters rejected Prop 8, which was the first initiative brought forward by SEIU-UHW a labor union for healthcare workers. Prop 23 is also being brought forward by the SEIU, which is attempting to unionize workers at kidney dialysis clinics. Prop 23 would require dialysis clinics to have a minimum of one licensed physician present at the clinic while patients are being treated, with an exception for when there is a bona fide shortage of physicians; report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); require the principal officer of the clinic to certify under penalty of perjury that he or she is satisfied, after review, that the submitted report is accurate and complete; and provide a written notice to the state health department and obtain consent from the state health department before closing a chronic dialysis clinic. Prop 23 would also state that a chronic dialysis clinic couldn’t "discriminate with respect to offering or providing care" nor "refuse to offer or to provide care, on the basis of who is responsible for paying for a patient's treatment.
Fiscal Impact: Increased state and local health care costs likely in the low tens of millions of dollars annually if passed.
A yes vote would place these new requirements on Kidney Dialysis Clinics. A no vote would not impose the new requirements.
Authorizes state regulation of kidney dialysis clinics. Establishes minimum staffing and other requirements
Amends consumer privacy laws
In 2018 San Francisco Real Estate Developer Alastair Mactaggart filed a consumer protection initiative for the 2018 ballot. It was withdrawn when the California State Legislature passed a compromise version, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). Mactaggart filed this initiative, Prop 24, because although he called the CCPA of 2018 a good baseline he is looking for additional “consumer rights”.
Prop 24 would expand or amend the provisions of the CCPA of 2018 by creating the California Privacy Protection Agency, and removing the ability of businesses to fix violations before being penalized for violations. Prop 24 would require businesses to do the following: not share a consumer's personal information upon the consumer's request; provide consumers with an opt-out option for having their sensitive personal information, as defined in law, used or disclosed for advertising or marketing; obtain permission before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 16; obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 13; and correct a consumer's inaccurate personal information upon the consumer's request.
Fiscal Impact: Increased annual state costs of roughly $10 million for a new state agency. Increased state costs, potentially reaching the low millions of dollars annually, from increased workload to Department of Justice and the state courts, some or all of which could be offset by penalty revenues. Unknown impact on state and local tax revenues due to economic effects resulting from new requirements on businesses to protect consumer information.”
A yes vote would place these new requirements into law. A no vote would keep the current law in place.
SB 10 was passed by the state legislature in 2018 to make California the first state to end the cash bail system for detained suspects awaiting trial. SB 10 replaced the cash bail system with a risk assessment to determine whether a detained suspect should be granted release and under what conditions. The risk assessments would categorize suspects as low risk, medium risk, or high risk. Suspects deemed as having a low risk of failing to appear in court and a low risk to public safety would be released from jail, while those deemed a high risk would remain in jail, with a chance to argue for their release before a judge. Those deemed a medium risk could be released or detained, depending on the local court's rules. SB 10 would exempt suspects of misdemeanors, with exceptions, from needing a risk assessment to be released. Both the American Bail Association and the ACLU opposed SB 10.
Prop 25 is a veto referendum placed on the ballot to overturn SB 10 and return California to a cash bail system.
A yes vote would uphold the contested legislation SB 10. A no vote would repeal SB 10 and return CA to a cash bail system.