DIANA'S TAKE ON THE PROPOSITIONS ON THIS YEAR'S BALLOT
But make your own decision, and vote as you see fit. See a list of resources below. Independent thought, informed and prepared to take responsibility for individual actions and consequences, will get us the best results!!
Prop 14 – STEM CELL RESEARCH. No, but open to persuasion. $5.5 billion in bonds to fund stem cell research. Yes, independent research is a good cause, and yes, finding cures for cancer, ALS, and other diseases is worthy of our attention. But this will cost us $260 million per year for 30 years in debt servicing fees. And it comes on the heels of $3 billion in public funds already spent by California on stem cell research. This one strikes me as an attempt to allocate public funds for research that if viable will be picked up by private industry. Why are we the voters making this special funding decision instead of our leadership? This is a huge amount of money that I’m not sure we should be spending….especially now….
Prop 15 – REMOVE PROP 13 PROTECTION FOR COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY. Leaning Yes, but a bit confused. It removes the prop 13 protection from commercial & industrial property valued at more than $3 million. The rest would still be protected by prop 13. As a reminder, prop 13 set a property’s taxable value at its original purchase price, and then allowed a limited increase each year (2% or inflation rate, whichever is lower), even as market values skyrocketed. Basically, proponents say this is a great way to collect needed funds for government and schools from those who can afford it most (large commercial and industrial property owners). Opponents express concern that the $3 million limit will not protect some businesses that we want to protect (especially in Sonoma County), like wineries and dairy farms. Proponents respond that Prop 15 removes only commercial and industrial properties from prop 13’s protection, leaving agricultural properties untouched. Any input here? Help! It’s worth noting here: Sonoma County Demos and ACLU both say yes on this one.
*A specific resource on Prop 15: Click here for the Q&A by CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers)
Prop 16 – REPEAL 1996 BAN ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. Definite Yes. This proposition reverses 1996’s prop 209, which “prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The risk of this repeal is that it means our younger generation of non-protected status children looking for work may bear the burden of poor choices by earlier generations. However, remember that all Prop 16 does is remove the Prop 209 prohibition, and allows our state to pass legislation that attempts to address our age-old problems of racism and injustice. If it were a level playing field, if we had already achieved racial equity, I’d feel otherwise. But we have not. We need to face up to the wrongs we’ve allowed to continue as a society.
Prop 17 – ALLOW PAROLEES TO VOTE. Definite Yes. The idea behind parole is to reintegrate people into society. Giving them a stake in the future, by allowing them to vote, helps that reintegration. Of course, as we all know, people of color dominate the parole lists, so supporting Proposition 17 also helps right that wrong.
Prop 18 – ALLOW 17 YEAR OLDS TO VOTE IN PRIMARIES. Definite Yes. LETS HEAR IT FOR YOUTH ENGAGEMENT!! This Proposition simply allows youth who will be 18 in time for a general election to vote in the preceding primary. To my way of thinking, if there’s any young person out there who is engaged enough to want to vote in a primary election, we should celebrate and encourage that interest!
Prop 19 – TAX RELIEF FOR OVER 55ers, TAX INCREASE FOR NEXT GENERATION. Leaning No, but even more confused than I am about Prop 15. Prop 19 does three things. First, it gives 55+ homeowners an expanded opportunity to transfer their tax assessment from their current homes to newly purchased homes. The current law allows them to do this only once, and only if the newly purchased home has a lower market value than the former home. Prop 19 would expand this tax benefit to allow 55+ homeowners to do this three times (!!), and it would apply even if the new home has a higher market value. It goes further by allowing the old assessed value to apply even if the person is moving into a different county. The second thing Prop 19 does is to expand these “portability” rights beyond the 55+ group to include people who have been victims of wildfires and other disasters. The third thing Prop 19 does is change the property tax assessment for inherited properties. Currently they keep the original assessed value. That helps the (generally younger) person who is inheriting. Prop 19 would remove this protection, unless the person who inherits the property will be living in the home. Where does the money raised go? Most to the California Fire Response Fund, and some (15%?) to a fund to help offset the revenue lost by counties as a result of lower property tax values being ported in from other counties. My question: Do we allow older Californians to protect their wealth and fire victims to have a better chance of affording a home, and pay for that on the backs of younger Californians who are trying to accumulate wealth? And does the fact that most of the proceeds go to Fire Response make it all OK? I guess as a taxpayer and voter I feel like there’s way too much going on here for me to say yes. What about unintended consequences? Isn’t this sort of analysis what we pay our lawmakers to figure out?
Prop 20 – INCREASE PENALTIES FOR CRIMES. Definite No. We have way too many people in prison already. Recent reforms that have begun to reduce our tendency to imprison our population would be pushed back by this Proposition. It would lead to increased imprisonment of nonviolent offenders and make it more challenging to get paroled. And it comes with a hefty price tag for voters. A big no from me.
Prop 21 – GIVE CITIES RIGHT TO EXPAND RENT CONTROL. Yes, but troubled by possible unintended consequences. This proposition would allow jurisdictions to impose rent control on housing that’s at least 15 years old and owned by a landlord that owns at least three properties. It has additional provisions, all intended to expand the freedom of individual jurisdictions to impose rent control measures. My concern? Although I’m all for figuring out a way to make housing more affordable, I’m just not sure this is the right solution. To the extent our community takes advantage of this opportunity, will this discourage builders from building here? Will it result in “bad” landlords being even less interested in maintaining their rental properties? Will it really lead to more affordable housing of the kind our locals want and need? Honestly, I’m once again left with a concern that I’m being expected to make decisions based on limited information, when I’d much prefer that lawmakers do the deep dive to find the right solution. On balance, though, I vote yes because it doesn’t require counties and cities to impose rent control. It just gives them the option.
Prop 22 - TREAT GIG ECONOMY DRIVERS AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. No. This one reverses a law passed by our Legislature. That law created an “ABC” test for determining whether a worker is treated as an employee or an independent contractor. Under the ABC test there’s a presumption that the worker is an employee unless all three prongs of the ABC test prove otherwise. Application to the gig economy (Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Doordash, Postmates) came out with a resounding “employee” result. Proposition 22 is an effort by all these companies to reverse this law, and force these gig economy workers to be treated as independent contractors. They spent over $130 million so far to push this forward. Really? All that money could have been better spent sorting out a way to comply with the law! While I know that many gig economy workers may not like the results of the law that forces them to be treated as employees, I’m just not feeling that we as Californians should be carving out an exception to meet the needs of these large companies. The solution lies elsewhere.
Prop 23 – REGULATE DIALYSIS CLINICS. Leaning No. This one is confusing. It offers what appear to be protections for patients (requiring MDs on site, requiring care for Medi-cal/Medicaid/Medicare patients, protecting against unplanned closures, and putting in place data-reporting requirements and penalties). But there’s clearly some concern about whether Proposition 23 is needed and appropriate – opposition includes the Nurses, Doctors, NAACP California, and others. There’s something not quite right here.
Prop 24 – CHANGE PRIVACY LAWS. No. This one is really complicated, but ultimately seems to create some privacy problems that don't sit right with me. Some examples: it allows pay-for-privacy schemes that permit companies to offer discounts to consumers who let them sell their data…and to charge those consumers who elect to opt out. It also weakens protections for DNA and "faceprints," allowing retention of personal information for security, fraud, and “system integrity” purposes. Law Enforcement is allowed to ask businesses to retain data on “suspects” for up to 90 days. None of that feels like appropriate consumer protection. Opponents include the ACLU. Definitely a no for me.
Prop 25 – ELIMINATE MONEY BAIL. No. I find Proposition 25 very confusing. It eliminates money bail, which seems like a good idea given that money bail keeps people in jail just because they’re poor. However, it replaces that system with a new one that seems even worse, giving increased incarceration powers to judges based on “risk algorithms," and also gives more funding to law enforcement. At first I was pleased by the “risk algorithm” idea, thinking it would limit the discretion of judges (and the impact of implicit bias). But a closer look shows that the risk of subjective decisions regarding bail are even higher with this new approach. As one example, judges are allowed to consider “risk of re-arrest” and unproven accusations. There is no transparency, no accountability, and no recourse for challenging a risk score once it is “calculated.” On balance, I’m against this one.
RESOURCES TO REVIEW