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A guide to California 2020 ballot measures
Election 2020

A guide to California 2020 ballot measures

  • Updated

You’ve seen the ads. But you’re not sure what any of these California ballot measures actually do.

Fear not! Here’s a handy, simple guide to each of the 12 propositions on the California ballot for the November general election. From affirmative action to overturning the highly controversial gig worker bill (AB-5), there are plenty of significant measures California residents will be voting on this fall. This guide is broken into three categories: 1. The big ones that interest groups are dumping millions of advertising dollars into, 2. The criminal justice ones, and 3. The rest.

The big ones

Proposition 16

What it does: Allows the state and its public universities to discriminate or grant preferential treatment based on race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting.

Major players for it: The University of California Board of Regents, Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, and various Black Lives Matter-related advocacy groups.

Major players against it: A number of Asian American groups and Republicans in the California state Assembly.

Recent polling: 31% support, 47% oppose, 22% undecided (PPIC poll, Sept. 4-Sept 13.)

Links to learn more:

New poll finds shaky support for Proposition 16 to restore affirmative action in California (LA Times)

Proposition 16: Why some Asian Americans are on the front lines of the campaign against affirmative action (Mercury News)

Proposition 15

What it does: Raises funds for schools and local governments by requiring commercial and industrial properties with more than $3 million in holdings to be taxed based on market value as opposed to purchase price. Does not impact homeowners.

Major players for it: Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and the California Teacher’s Association.

Major players against it: California Chamber of Commerce, California Small Business Association and several taxpayers’ groups.

Recent polling: 51% support, 40% oppose, 9% undecided (PPIC poll, Sept. 4-Sept 13.)

Links to learn more:

Prop. 15 could raise billions for California, But who will pay? (NBC San Diego)

Governor’s endorsement of Proposition 15 disappoints Farm Bureau (Lassen County Times)

Proposition 22

What it does: Classifies app-based drivers as independent contractors and not employees, which effectively kneecaps AB5.

Major players for it: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other similar services.

Major players against it: Sen. Kamala Harris, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and several state Assembly Democrats.

Recent polling: 41% support, 26% oppose, 34% undecided (Redfield and Wilton poll, Aug. 9)

Links to learn more:

Uber and Lyft have poured millions of dollars into a November ballot measure to keep Calif. drivers paid as independent contractors (Business Insider)

Uber analyst expects California’s Prop. 22 to pass based on latest polling (Yahoo Finance)

Proposition 21

What it does: Allows local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago.

Major players for it: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles chapter and various tenants’ groups.

Major players against it: Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Apartment Association and construction workers’ unions.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

Bernie Sanders backs rent control, slams greedy landlords in new ‘yes on 21’ spot (Business Wire)

Opponents of rent control initiative say Prop. 21 backers violated Stolen Valor Act in ad (San Diego Union Tribune)

The criminal justice ones

Proposition 25

What it does: Eliminates cash bail and gives judges the ability to determine whether a defendant should be released prior to a trial.

Major players for it: Gov. Gavin Newsom, several congressional Democrats and civil liberties groups.

Major players against it: Orange County Board of Supervisors and several groups affiliated with the bail bonds industry.

Recent polling: 39% support, 32% oppose, 29% undecided (UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies poll, Sept. 13-Sept.18)

Links to learn more:

California’s cash bail system favors the rich. Would replacing it help people of color? (Fresno Bee)

Prop. 25 will replace cash bail with risk assessment, if passed (Daily Cal)

Proposition 17

What it does: Restores voting rights to people with felony convictions who have been released from prison but remain on parole.

Major players for it: Sen. Kamala Harris, the ACLU of California and many state Assembly Democrats.

Major players against it: State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-4) and the Election Integrity Project California.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

LA County supervisors support proposition restoring voting rights to those on parole (CBS Los Angeles)

Alex Padilla: Why Prop. 17 will strengthen both voting rights and public safety (San Diego Union Tribune)

Proposition 20

What it does: Adds several crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted. Would undo a series of reforms enacted between 2011 and 2016 aimed at reducing the state’s prison population.

Major players for it: Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-9) and multiple law-enforcement-affiliated groups.

Major players against it: Former Gov. Jerry Brown, the ACLU of California and several criminal justice reform advocacy groups.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

Grocery stores are pushing California to be tougher on crime (LA Times)

Opposition to Prop. 20 increases; opponents charge it’s a step backward for CA (Davis Vanguard)

The rest

Proposition 19

What it does: Allows homeowners over the age of 55, disabled or victims of a natural disaster to take existing, lower property tax rates to new homes anywhere in the state.

Major players for it: California Realtors Association, California Professional Firefighters and several local real estate groups.

Major players against it: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

Prop. 19 debate: Funding for fighting wildfires or attack on Prop 13 tax protections? (CBS San Francisco)

Worried about fires? California ballot initiative could help you move to a new city (Sacramento Bee)

Proposition 24

What it does: Expands the state’s consumer data privacy laws by creating a new state agency to enforce privacy laws, empowering consumers to order that businesses not sell their personal information, and increasing financial penalties on those who violate privacy laws.

Major players for it: Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and several online privacy groups.

Major players against it: ACLU of California and the Consumer Federation of California.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

Andrew Yang takes lead role in California data privacy campaign (Politico)

Prop. 24 seemingly seeks to expand internet privacy, critics say it won’t (Salinas Californian)

Proposition 18

What it does: Allows 17-year-old Californians who will be 18 by the following general election to vote in primaries and special elections.

Major players for it: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Assembyman Kevin Mullin (D-22).

Major players against it: The Election Integrity Project California.

Recent polling: N/A

Links to learn more:

Alex Padilla: Vote yes on Prop. 18 to engage, energize and empower the next generation of voters (San Diego Union Tribune)

Thousands of 17-year-olds could vote in California primaries if initiative passes, study says (Sacramento Bee)

Proposition 14

What it does: Issues $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the state’s stem cell research institute.

Major players for it: Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures and the University of California Board of Regents.

Major players against it: The Center for Genetics and Society

Recent polling: N/A

Link to learn more:

Prop. 14: There’s much, much more than meets the eye (Capitol Weekly)

Proposition 23

What it does: Places several new regulations on dialysis clinics, including requiring an on-site physician, mandating increased reporting of dialysis-related infections, and not allowing clinics to close before obtaining consent from the state health department.

Major players for it: Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection

Major players against it: American Legion, California Medical Association and several veterans’ and health groups.

Recent polling: N/A

Link to learn more:

Prop. 23: Kidney dialysis clinic rules (Cal Matters)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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