Californians will vote on a dozen statewide ballot measures this fall.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most contentious measures.
This proposition would increase funding for K-12 schools, community colleges and local governments by reassessing and taxing commercial and industrial property at current market value every three years. It exempts residential and agricultural properties, as well as owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value under $3 million. The tax increase for some owners will begin in 2022, with the property of smaller businesses to be reassessed beginning in 2025. While Proposition 15 has been characterized by some as rescinding 1978’s Proposition 13, that is not entirely true as homeowners and most smaller property owners would be exempt.
This proposition would afford voting rights to those with felony convictions who have been released from prison, but remain on parole. It would give an estimated 40,000 people the right to vote. Currently, those convicted of felonies can only vote after completing parole. Opponents argue that parole is part of one’s sentence and allows for additional rehabilitation before full rights are restored.
This proposition will expand the list of offenses that disqualify an inmate from parole programs – adding several crimes to the designation of violent felonies and turning back some reforms enacted between 2011 and 2016 that were enacted with the intention of reducing the state prison population. It will also authorize felony charges for some theft crimes that are currently only chargeable as misdemeanors, including some charges for thefts between $250 and $950. Perhaps most notably, it would require those convicted of some misdemeanors to submit DNA samples into a state database.
This proposition would allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties more than 15 years old – and it’s important to note that it would only allow rent control, not require it. Rent increases on rent-controlled properties would be allowed up to 15% over three years from previous tenant’s rent in addition to any increase allowed by local ordinance. The proposition exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies. Opponents are concerned that Proposition 21 will discourage improvements to property and generally make rental property less available. It’s opposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
This proposition would allow rideshare drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to remain classified as independent contractors rather than employees – dealing a major blow to Assembly Bill 5. At the heart of the issue is the fact that independent contractors are not entitled to some protections that are afforded to employees, such as minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. Under Proposition 22, companies would be required to provide alternative benefits like minimum compensation and health care subsidies based on driving time, while allowing individuals the freedom to choose work as an independent contractor.
This proposition is perhaps the most significant change to California’s criminal justice system that has come before the voters. It will eliminate cash bail and allow judges to determine whether a defendant should be released before trial using a system based on flight risk. Proponents said the proposition would go a long way toward reducing the amount to which the justice system favors the wealthy – those with the means are often released on bail while lower-income arrestees may be forced to stay behind bars until their trial, regardless of their innocence. But opponents said it could leave too much power in the hands of judges in terms of determining public safety and whether persons arrested are likely to return for trial. Because this is a referendum on Senate Bill 10, a “no” vote essentially vetoes the bill and retains the cash bail system.
Will Fritz can be reached by email at email@example.com.