On June 26, the California State Legislature placed on the ballot a constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections. The constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020, or March 8, 2022, depending on the outcome of Senate Bill 300.
The California State Senate voted 31 to 7 to pass the amendment—Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4—on June 25, 2020. Senate Democrats, along with two Senate Republicans, voted for the amendment. Seven Senate Republicans opposed the amendment. The California State Assembly voted 56 to 13 to pass ACA 4 on June 26, 2020. Fifty-five Assembly Democrats, along with one Assembly Republican, supported the amendment. Twelve Assembly Republicans, along with one Assembly Democrat, voted against the amendment. As a constitutional amendment, the governor’s signature is not required for the issue to appear on the ballot.
California would be the 19th state to expand voting in primaries to 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election. Ohio was the first state to enact 17-year-old voting for primaries. Colorado was the most recent state, adopting the policy in 2019.
Since the constitutional amendment was passed on June 26, it missed the deadline of June 25, 2020, for the legislature to place measures on the November ballot. However, the legislature is considering Senate Bill 300 (SB 300), which would extend the deadline to July 1 for the constitutional amendment and several others. SB 300 will need to pass both legislative chambers and be signed by the governor.
Due to negotiations to withdraw a ballot initiative and SB 300, the constitutional amendment could be one of 12 or 13 measures on California’s November ballot this year.
On June 24, the ninth—and final—ballot initiative qualified for the general election ballot in California. Titled the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, the ballot initiative would expand the state’s consumer privacy law that was passed in 2018 and create a new government organization, called the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), to enforce the law.
Californians for Consumer Privacy, which is leading the campaign behind the ballot initiative, needed to collect 623,212 valid signatures. On May 4, 2020, the campaign submitted 930,983 signatures. Therefore, 66.9 percent of the signatures needed to be valid. Counties conducted random samples of signatures, which projected that 77.5 percent were valid, allowing the ballot initiative to go before voters.
Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco-based real estate developer, filed the ballot initiative. He was the proponent of a different proposal that qualified for the ballot in 2018, but the ballot initiative was withdrawn after negotiations with the California State Legislature. Negotiations resulted in the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which his new proposal would amend and add additional provisions to.
With the new ballot initiative, Mactaggart said his intention “is to go to the ballot.” He described the CCPA of 2018 as a “great baseline. But I think there are additional rights that Californians deserve.” Unlike the CCPA, which the legislature passed, a ballot initiative can’t be amended without the approval of voters at the ballot box due to 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, “There is basically unlimited resources on one side of the fight. If you don’t do anything, they will win eventually.”
The CCPA (2018) was designed to require companies that store personal information to disclose to consumers what types of information are collected and allow consumers to request that certain businesses not disclose or sell their personal information. The ballot initiative would also require businesses to not share a consumer’s personal information upon the consumer’s request; provide consumers with an opt-out option for having their sensitive personal information used or disclosed for advertising or marketing; obtain permission before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 16; obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 13; and correct a consumer’s inaccurate personal information upon the consumer’s request. It would also remove the ability of businesses to fix violations before being penalized for violations.
Through March 31, 2020, Californians for Consumer Privacy raised $4.75 million, with Mactaggart as the sole funder. Currently, there is no organized opposition. Mactaggart’s last proposal, which resulted in the CCPA being passed, was opposed by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, among others.
The signature verification deadline for statewide ballot initiatives in California was June 25, 2020. The consumer privacy initiative was the last initiative pending signature verification for the 2020 ballot. Citizens can collect signatures for veto referendums against adopted legislation, with the referendum signature verification deadline set for 31 days before the election. As of June 25, no veto referendum campaigns were active in California.
With the signature verification deadline on June 25, the eighth citizen-initiated measure has qualified for the ballot in California. On June 22, the office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that enough signatures had been collected for a ballot initiative to fund the state’s stem cell research institute with a $5.5 billion general obligation bond.
In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71, which created the institute, which is known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM); issued $3.00 billion in bonds to finance CIRM; and established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research. As of October 2019, CIRM had $132 million in funds remaining. On July 1, 2019, CIRM suspended applications for new projects due to depleted funds.
Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. Through June 22, the campaign had raised $2.07 million, with Robert N. Klein II providing $4.63 million of that total. Klein is chairperson of the campaign, and he was the chairperson of the campaign behind Proposition 71 in 2004. Klein also served as the first chair of the committee that governs CIRM. Klein is a real estate investor who cites his son’s Type 1 diabetes as one reason for his involvement in stem cell research.
Besides issuing a $5.5 billion grant for CIRM, the ballot initiative would also make changes to the institute’s structure, in part to provide more resources related to treatment access. CIRM has three working groups that advise the governing committee, one each for medical research funding, research standards, and facilities grants. The ballot initiative would create a fourth working group, which would focus on improving access to treatments and cures.
Californians last voted on a bond measure at the election on March 3, 2020. Proposition 13 would have issued $15 billion for school and college facilities, but 53 percent of voters rejected the proposal. Since 1993, voters have rejected 12 of 44 (27.3 percent) bond issues on the statewide ballot in California. Most of the bond measures (36 of 44) were legislative referrals. The remaining eight were citizen-initiated measures. Voters approved 75 percent of the legislature’s bond measures and 62.5 percent of citizen-initiated bond measures.
Unless the California State Legislature passes a bond measure for the general election ballot before June 25, which is the deadline to refer ballot measures, the stem cell bond ballot initiative will be the only bond issue on the California ballot in November.
Californians will vote on a ballot initiative related to dialysis clinics for the second general election in a row unless the proposal is withdrawn. On June 15, the office of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that enough signatures were collected for a dialysis clinic-related ballot initiative to appear on the November 3 ballot. Proponents filed 1.01 million signatures in April. At least 623,212 of the signatures needed to be valid. Based on random samples, an estimated 739,326 signatures were valid.
The ballot initiative 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, voters rejected a ballot initiative, titled Proposition 8, that would have required dialysis clinics to refund patients (or their insurers) for profits above a certain threshold. Proposition 8 was the most expensive ballot measure of 2018, with campaign committees receiving a combined $130.43 million. Opponents raised 85 percent ($111.48 million) of the $130.43 million. Contributors to the opposition campaign included DaVita ($67.03 million), Fresenius Medical Care North America (33.98 million), and U.S. Renal Care ($8.18 million). Supporters raised $18.94 million, with $17.87 million coming from the SEIU-UHW West.
Based on the most recent campaign finance filings on March 31, the conflict surrounding the union’s new ballot initiative involves the same organizations as Proposition 8. The SEIU-UHW West has raised $5.91 million. Opponents have raised $2.02 million, with DaVita and Fresenius each providing $1.01 million.
The ballot initiative is the seventh to qualify for the November 2020 ballot in California. The deadline for signature verification is June 25. Two ballot initiatives are currently undergoing a random sample of signatures. The California State Legislature also has until June 25 to refer measures to the general election ballot.