Legislation Lowdown | Carolyn Cui
November 3 is only 27 days away.
Millions of Americans have already cast their votes across the States, and once election day rolls around, a handful of students at CCA will also be able to vote for the first time. But other than political candidates, what else is on the ballot?
If you’ve watched live TV anytime within the past few weeks, you probably know about the latest round of propositions.
These local measures are generally overshadowed by the presidential election, and for a somewhat good reason, because we’re not just deciding what direction America will take over the next four years: we’re deciding what America’s legacy will be.
But that means lots of voters end up opening their ballot to a host of unfamiliar statutes. It doesn’t help that news outlets don’t always cover these propositions either. Leading up to the election, arguments both for and against certain propositions have been popping up all over the place in the forms of TV ads, social media posts, car rallies, etc. These, of course, are generally not the most reliable sources of information; yet some voters will head to the polls with their only knowledge of propositions stemming from television propaganda.
Making informed decisions? Don’t know her.
If you’re choosing to vote in the upcoming election, rather than heading in completely blind, make sure you know exactly what each proposition entails. Although the presidential election feels like a higher-stakes vote, the propositions on the November ballot will directly impact California and San Diego, perhaps more so than the effects of the presidency.
In the 2020 election, twelve measures in the state of California have been certified to appear on the November ballot. The full descriptions of each, including pros and cons and what your vote means, can be found at voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
Prop 14 authorizes $5.5 billion in bonds to be used for medical research, including stem cell research, training, research facility construction, and other administrative costs. $1.5 billion of it will go to research in brain-related diseases. Related programs will also be expanded. However, the proposition also increases state costs at an estimated $260 million per year over the next 30 years.
Prop 15 taxes properties of commercial and industrial buildings based on their current market value rather than purchase price. The increase in taxes for commercial properties worth more than $3 million will provide anywhere from $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion in funding to local governments and schools.
Prop 16 allows race, sex, color, ethnicity, or nationality to be taken into account in public employment, education, and contracting decisions; it will repeal a previous constitutional measure that prohibited this. There is no direct impact on the economy, and the effects depend on local and state government choices. Proposition 17
Prop 17 restores voting rights to individuals who were prohibited from voting while in prison after they complete their prison term. It will accrue yearly statewide costs in the hundreds of thousands. One-time costs in the hundreds of thousands are also expected to account for voter registration cards and systems.
Prop 18 permits 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections preceding the general election if they will turn 18 by the next general election. County costs across the state will range from hundreds of thousands to $1 million every two years; there will also be a one-time state expenditure in the hundreds of thousands.
Prop 19 allows all homeowners over 55, disabled, or wildfire/disaster victims to be eligible for property tax savings when they move and changes the taxation of family-property transfers. Only inherited properties used as primary homes or farms would be eligible for savings. A fire protection services fund will also be established. Local governments might accrue tens of millions of dollars in property tax revenue each year, which could grow in time to a couple hundred million annually. Property tax gains could apply to schools as well.
Prop 20 restricts parole for certain nonviolent offenses for offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense and allows felony sentences for some offenses that are currently classified as misdemeanors. Depending on the implementation, it could result in court and law enforcement costs in the tens of millions annually.
Prop 21 allows local governments to establish rent control (regulations on the amounts charged for rented properties) on residential properties older than 15 years. The limits on rate increases may differ locally. Over time, it’s expected that there will be a reduction in state and local revenues in the tens of millions annually, but this number may fluctuate depending on actions by local communities.
Prop 22 classifies app-based drivers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees” and provides drivers other compensation unless certain criteria are met. Drivers can decide when, where, and how much they want to work but they won’t get the standard benefits and protections that business generally have to provide employees with. There may be a minor increase in state income taxes that are paid by rideshare/delivery company drivers and investors.
Prop 23 requires a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant to be on-site during dialysis treatments. It prohibits clinics from reducing services without state approval and prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on their payment source. Increase state and local government costs could reach the low tens of millions annually.
Prop 24 expands consumer privacy laws by giving consumers the right to prevent businesses from sharing their personal information, correct inaccurate personal information, and limit a business’ use of sensitive personal information (e.g. race, ethnicity, health information, geolocation). It also establishes the California Privacy Protection Agency. Annual costs are expected to be at least $10 million but are unlikely to exceed the low tens of millions.
Prop 25 suggests that bail be replaced with a system that assesses public safety and flight risk (someone who is likely to leave the country before a bail hearing); anyone who is released from jail prior to their trial will not have to pay bail and instead, people will be released based on their risk of committing another crime or not appearing in court. We may experience an annual increase in costs in the mid-hundreds of millions of dollars to establish a new process for jail release before a trial, but annual county jail costs may decrease in the high tens of millions.
These propositions are just scratching the surface of the local elections.
Arguably, they are more important than the presidential election. Because we have the ability to choose the people who’ll determine where our taxes go; we have the ability to choose judges who can make decisions about key issues like police brutality.
We have the ability to make our community a better place.
If you’ll be 18 before or on election day, you are eligible for voter registration. Register at RegisterToVote.ca.gov before October 19 via online registration, or register on election day via in-person registration.