On July 1, 2020, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) announced the list of ballot measures, along with their ballot order and official titles, for the election on November 3, 2020. The deadline for certifications was June 25, 2020, until Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation (SB 300) that extended the deadline to July 1, 2020, for several legislative referrals.
There will be 12 ballot propositions on the general election ballot, including eight citizen-initiated measures and four legislative referrals. Since 2010, an average of 10 citizen-initiated measures have appeared on even-year ballots. Before the coronavirus pandemic struck California, an additional three campaigns were aiming to place their proposals on this year’s ballot.
On June 25, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) filed a conditional withdrawal for the group’s ballot initiative, which had never happened before in California. CAR conditioned withdrawal on the legislature passing a compromise measure, titled Proposition 19, and the legislation extending the deadline for Proposition 19 (and other legislative referrals).
Steve Reyes, chief counsel for the office of Secretary of State Padilla, agreed that a conditional withdrawal could occur. House Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) wrote to Secretary of State Padilla, stating, “At this point, you have no legal authority to remove Initiative #1864 from the November ballot. Our house will consider its legal options for challenging any removal of Initiative #1864 from the ballot, if that should occur.” As of July 1, Rendon had not taken legal action against Padilla for allowing CAR’s initiative to be withdrawn July 1. Legislation (SB 684) was introduced to prohibit conditional withdrawals from happening in the future.
Besides Proposition 19, the extended deadline allowed Proposition 18 to be certified for the ballot. Proposition 16 and Proposition 17—the other two legislative referrals—were passed on June 22.
You can read about each proposition certified for this year’s California ballot below:
*Proposition 14: Voters will decide a ballot initiative to give the state’s stem cell research institute another $5.5 billion via a bond issue. In 2004, voters passed a ballot measure to create a state stem cell research institute, which was funded with a $3 billion bond issue. Of that $3 billion, $132 million remained as of October 2019.
*Proposition 15: Proposition 15 would amend Proposition 13 (1978), which initiated a period in state politics known as the tax revolt. Proposition 13 required that residential, commercial, and industrial properties be taxed based on their purchase price. The tax is limited to no more than 1 percent of the purchase price (at the time of purchase), with an annual adjustment equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. Proposition 15 would tax commercial and industrial properties based on market value, rather than their purchase price.
*Proposition 16: In 1996, voters approved Proposition 209, which prohibited the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment (such as affirmative action) on the basis of race, sex, or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting. Proposition 16 would repeal Proposition 209. Asm. Shirley Weber (D-79), the principal legislative sponsor of Proposition 16, said, “The ongoing pandemic, as well as recent tragedies of police violence, is forcing Californians to acknowledge the deep-seated inequality and far-reaching institutional failures that show that your race and gender still matter.” Ward Connerly, a leader of the campaign behind Proposition 209, responded to Proposition 16, saying, “I believe we would win by a landslide once we let people know what affirmative action is really about.”
*Proposition 17: Since 1974, California has allowed people convicted of felonies to vote after their imprisonment and parole sentence. Proposition 17 would allow people with felonies who are on parole to vote; therefore, the ballot measure would keep imprisonment as a disqualification for voting but remove parole status.
*Proposition 18: Voters will be asked whether 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election should be permitted to vote in primaries and special elections. As of July 1, 2020, 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., allowed 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the general election to vote in primaries.
*Proposition 19: Proposition 19 resulted from negotiations between the California State Legislature and California Association of Realtors (CAR). Proposition 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; 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.
*Proposition 20: Proposition 20 would amend or repeal several criminal sentencing and supervision laws passed during the second tenure of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (2011-2019). The ballot initiative would add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted, recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies), and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.
*Proposition 21: After Proposition 10 was defeated in 2018, Californians will vote on a modified rent control ballot initiative this year. Proposition 21 would allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests.
*Proposition 22: Uber, Lyft, and Doordash are sponsoring Proposition 22, which would define app-based drivers as independent contractors and not employees, as well as enact several labor and wage policies. The ballot measure would override Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors. The ballot measure could be the most expensive this year, with the campaign behind Proposition 22 raising $110.7 million through March 31.
*Proposition 23: The SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers, is backing a second ballot initiative to enact policies related to dialysis clinics after votes rejected one in 2018. Proposition 23 would require chronic dialysis clinics to: have an on-site physician while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections; obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic; and not discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care. In 2018, the SEIU-UHW West attempted to pass a ballot initiative to require dialysis clinics to issue refunds for profits above a threshold. DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care opposed the ballot initiative, raising more than $101 million between the two companies.
*Proposition 24: In 2018, Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer, funded a campaign to get the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) on the ballot. His campaign withdrew its initiative after negotiating with the legislature to pass a version of the CCPA. Mactaggart is back with a proposal to expand the CCPA and create a state agency to enforce consumer data privacy laws. He didn’t want compromise legislation this time around, citing the state constitution’s limits on legislative alteration. “The only thing I want to make sure is they can’t undo the act,” said Mactaggart.
*Proposition 25: In 2019, California became the first state to pass a law ending cash bail for all detained suspects awaiting trials. Instead, the law would replace the state’s cash bail system with risk assessments. The American Bail Coalition, a nonprofit trade association, organized a political action committee to sponsor a veto referendum, which became Proposition 25, that would give voters the final word on the law.