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Victoria Antram

Victoria Antram is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Initiative to increase medical malpractice lawsuit caps in California withdrawn after legislative compromise reached

On May 19, the sponsors of an initiative to increase California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits withdrew the ballot measure from the 2022 ballot after reaching a legislative compromise with legislators.

 In 1975, the cap was set at $250,000. The ballot initiative would have required an annual adjustment of the cap based on inflation. The ballot initiative would have also allowed judges and juries to award damages above the cap for catastrophic injuries, defined as death, permanent physical impairment, permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or permanent loss of consortium.

The initiative had qualified for the ballot in July 2020 after filing 910,667 signatures, of which 688,142 were valid.

On April 27, 2022, the sponsors of the initiative announced that a legislative compromise was going to be introduced that would raise the legal cap on pain and suffering awards to $350,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The proposed law would also increase the cap over 10 years to a maximum of $750,000. The cap for cases involving a patient’s death would increase to $500,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and increase up to $1 million over 10 years. Following the decade increase, the cap would be adjusted by 2% annually. Assembly Bill 35 was amended on April 27 to include the changes. On May 5, the state Senate passed AB 35 in a vote of 37-1 with two absent. On May 12, the state Assembly passed the bill in a vote of 66-0 with 12 absent. The bill is awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) signature.

Nick Rowley, one of the sponsors of the initiative, said, “After nearly 50 years of inaction on a law that capped the value of human life and losing my own son to medical negligence, I wrote and funded the Fairness for Injured Patients Act to effectuate much-needed change. I never envisioned a legislative compromise, but I’m very proud that our work has led us to this point. When this becomes law, we will have changed history for the better.”

In California, the proponents of a ballot initiative can withdraw their proposal after signatures are verified, as long as the proposal is withdrawn at least 131 days before the general election. For the 2022 general election, the deadline is June 30. This process was adopted in 2014 with the enactment of Senate Bill 1253 (SB 1253). Since the adoption of the law, the proponents of seven citizen-initiated ballot measures have withdrawn their proposals after qualifying for the ballot.

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Initiative to increase the income tax to fund zero-emission vehicles and wildfire prevention programs in California files signatures 

The California secretary of state reported that Clean Air California, the campaign behind initiative #21-0037, submitted signatures on May 16. The number of signatures required to place the initiative on the November ballot is 623,212, which is equal to 5% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

The initiative proposes a new law to increase the income tax by an additional 1.75% on income above $2 million for individuals. It would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and end on Jan. 1, 2043, or, beginning in 2030, on Jan. 1 following three consecutive years in which greenhouse gas emissions were at least 80% below 1990 levels.

The initiative would create the Clean Cars and Clean Air Trust Fund (CCCATF). The money in the CCCATF would be allocated to three sub-funds created by the initiative:

  • 35% to the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Investment Plan Sub-Fund;
  • 45% to the Zero-Emission Vehicle and Clean Mobility Sub-Fund; and
  • 20% to the Wildfire Green House Gas Emissions Reduction Sub-Fund.

The initiative would require that half of the money in the zero-emission vehicle sub-funds go to projects and financial incentives in low-income communities. Funds are required to be used on zero-emission vehicle charging stations and infrastructure.

The funds in the Wildfire Green House Gas Emissions Reduction Sub-Fund would be allocated to CalFire and the state fire marshal to fund the hiring and training of firefighters; purchasing of wildfire detection and monitoring systems; improving fire suppression in fire-prone communities; improving defensible spaces around homes and communities; awarding grants for retrofitting homes in low-income communities; and supporting forest resilience programs and other forestry management.

Clean Air California reported $8.42 million in contributions according to its latest campaign finance filings. The committee’s top donors are Lyft ($8 million), the California State Association of Electrical Workers ($51,000), and Elect Climate Champions Fund ($51,000).

Veda Banerjee, communications director for California Environmental Voters, said, “The Clean Cars, Clean Air Act cuts right to the heart of the climate crisis in our state. And so far, the biggest threats of this crisis have been shouldered by the most underserved populations. We heartily support this historic approach — one that embraces science and builds equity — and look forward to our partnership within this coalition.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association has come out in opposition to the initiative. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said, “We already have some of the highest taxes in the country. A lot of the air pollution in Southern California could be eliminated by spending transportation dollars on freeway improvements to reduce traffic jams. If these proposals are really priorities, they should be paid for out of the existing general fund.”

Signatures are first filed with local election officials, who determine the total number of signatures submitted. If the total number is equal to at least 100 percent of the required signatures, then local election officials perform a random check of signatures submitted in their counties. If the random sample estimates that more than 110 percent of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95 and 110 percent of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done to determine the total number of valid signatures. 

The average number of initiatives filed in California between 2010 and 2020 was about 87 initiatives with an average of 10 being certified for the ballot. A total of 53 initiatives were filed for the 2022 ballot. Three have qualified for the ballot.

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$18 minimum wage campaign collects 1 million signatures for California initiative

On May 12, Yes on the California Living Wage Act, the campaign behind an initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage to $18, announced that they had collected over 1 million signatures. The initiative would enact a law to increase the minimum wage at different intervals depending on whether an employer has 26 or more workers or 25 or fewer workers. For employers with 26 or more workers, the minimum wage would reach $18 on Jan. 1, 2025. For employers with 25 or fewer workers, the minimum wage would reach $18 on Jan. 1, 2026. After reaching $18 an hour, the minimum wage would be tied to the CPI-W. Currently, the state’s minimum wage is $15 for large employers and $14 for smaller employers.

In California, the number of signatures required for an initiated state statute is 623,212, which is equal to 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Joe Sanberg filed the ballot initiative on Dec. 3, 2021. He said, “This is an issue that speaks to people’s everyday lives. It’s easy to explain and easy to understand and I expect we’re going to win. We’re planning this to win.”

The Working Hero Action for the Living Wage Act PAC is funding the campaign. It reported $10.88 million in contributions in its latest campaign finance filings. Sanberg has contributed $10.87 million. The campaign has received endorsements from AFSCME California PEOPLE, the California Faculty Association, Unite Here Local 11, UPTE-CWA Local 9119, and SEIU Local 87.

It has received opposition from the National Federation of Independent Business. John Kabateck, the state director of the federation, said, “Market, not politicians and bureaucrats, ought to be dictating the financial growth and success of working men and women in California. Let the market dictate this and let’s stop sending the message that mediocrity is a pathway to professional success in California.”

California was the first state to reach $15 per hour in 2022. As of January 2022, eight other states had passed laws or ballot measures increasing their statewide minimum wage rates incrementally to $15 per hour.

Signatures are first filed with local election officials, who determine the total number of signatures submitted. If the total number is equal to at least 100% of the required signatures, then local election officials perform a random check of signatures submitted in their counties. If the random sample estimates that more than 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95 and 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done to determine the total number of valid signatures. If 623,212 signatures are verified by June 30, the initiative will appear on the ballot at the Nov. general election.

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The campaign behind California dialysis initiative files signatures for a place on the November ballot

Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection filed 692,521 raw signatures to place an initiative on the November ballot. The measure would enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics. The ballot initiative would also prohibit clinics from refusing to care for a patient based on the patient’s form of payment, whether the patient is an individual payer, the patient’s health insurer, Medi-Cal, Medicaid, or Medicare.

The initiative was filed on Aug. 24, 2021, and was cleared for signature gathering on Oct. 29. The required number of signatures to place an initiated state statute on the ballot is 623,212, which is 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Signatures are first filed with local election officials, who determine the total number of signatures submitted. If the total number is equal to at least 100% of the required signatures, then local election officials perform a random check of signatures submitted in their counties. If the random sample estimates that more than 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95 and 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done.

According to the latest campaign finance filings, SEIU-UHW West, a labor union for healthcare workers in California, is the only donor to the initiative campaign with contributions totaling over $3.5 million. ​​On its website, Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection said, “Big dialysis corporations make billions of dollars annually. The average profit margin for DaVita and Fresenius clinics in the United States is 16% and 15.8% respectively — nearly six times as high as the average profit margin for US hospitals.”

Stop Yet Another Dangerous Dialysis Proposition is registered in opposition to the initiative. It has received endorsements from the American Academy of Nephrology PAs, California Chamber of Commerce, California Medical Association, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, and National Hispanic Medical Association. The campaign reported over $2.2 million in contributions, including $1.1 million from DaVita and $1.1 million from Fresenius Medical Care.

California voters rejected two other initiatives related to dialysis regulation in 2018 and 2020. In 2018, the campaign Californians for Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection supported Proposition 8 to require dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements. Proposition 8 was rejected with 59.9% of the vote. In 2020, the SEIU-UHW West launched a new campaign for Proposition 23 to have a minimum of one licensed physician present at the clinic while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections to the state health department and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN); and provide a written notice to the state health department and obtain consent from the state health department before closing a chronic dialysis clinic. Proposition 23 was rejected with 63.4% of the vote.

For the 2022 election cycle, 53 initiatives were filed in California, which is the second-lowest amount filed between 2014 and 2022 in the state. The highest number of initiatives filed occurred in 2016 with 135, and the lowest number of initiatives were filed for the 2020 ballot with 46.

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Texans approve property tax amendments; Austin voters decriminalize marijuana

Texans approved two statewide constitutional amendments reducing the property tax limit for school taxes on homesteads of the elderly and disabled and increasing the property tax exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for all households.

According to unofficial results on election night, Proposition 1 was approved by a margin of 86.98% to 13.02%. Proposition 2 was approved by a margin of 85.11% to 14.89%.

The amendments were referred to the ballot during the second special legislative session in 2021 and were the first ballot measures to be featured on even-numbered year ballots since 2014.

Ballotpedia also covered local ballot measures for voters in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In Austin, voters approved Proposition A by a margin of 85.37% to 14.63%. Proposition A added a new section to the city’s code to prohibit Austin police from issuing any citations or making any arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses and to prohibit the use of no-knock warrants.

San Antonio voters approved six bond measures totaling $1.2 billion. The revenue from the bonds would fund streets and sidewalk improvements, drainage and flood projects, parks and recreation, library and cultural facilities, public safety, and housing for households at certain income levels.

Voters in Fort Worth approved five bond issues totaling $560 million to fund roads and transportation projects, parks and recreation, library improvements, police and fire services, and open area improvements. Voters also decided on 13 charter amendments. According to unofficial election results, the amendment to increase the salaries of the mayor and city council was down by a margin of 47.45% to 52.55%. Three other amendments were too close to call, one was defeated, and eight were approved.

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Ballot initiative proponents turn in 1.5 million signatures for income tax to fund a new pandemic prevention institute in California

The proponents behind Californians Against Pandemics submitted 1.5 million signatures for a ballot initiative that would increase the income tax by 0.75% for individuals with income over $5 million for 10 years and dedicate 50% of funds to the California Institute for Pandemic Prevention, 25% to the Community Pandemic Response Fund, and 25% to the School Disease Spread Prevention Fund. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the state revenues from the tax would range from $500 million to $1.5 billion annually.

The initiative was filed on Sept. 26, 2021, and had a circulation deadline of May 23. The required number of valid signatures is 997,139, or 8% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The submitted signatures will be subject to a random check by county election officials. ​​If the random sample estimates that more than 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, the initiative is eligible for the ballot. If the random sample estimates that between 95% and 110% of the required number of signatures are valid, a full check of signatures is done to determine the total number of valid signatures.

The institute would be tasked with awarding grants related to the development of pathogen-agnostic disease detection. The institute would be governed by the Independent Scientific Governing Board created by the proposed law.

The initiative would also create the Community Pandemic Response Fund to appropriate funds to the California Department of Public Health for state- and local-level disease prevention programs. The other proposed fund, the School Disease Spread Prevention Fund, would appropriate funds to local education agencies and prioritize agencies that experience high community spread of pathogens or are in geographical regions most impacted by the coronavirus.

Californians Against Pandemics has reported $18.5 million in contributions with top donations from the organization Guarding Against Pandemics ($12 million) and Open Philanthropy Action Fund ($6.5 million).

Dr. Robert E. Wailes, president of the California Medical Association, said, “The California Medical Association is in strong support of the California Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Initiative because everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life. This initiative will modernize local public health departments across our state and invest in science and technology to detect, prevent and defeat diseases before they can cause a deadly and devastating pandemic.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association opposes the initiative. Jon Coupal, president of the association, said, “Why are we even talking about raising taxes when we have a nearly $50 billion state budget surplus. This is exactly why we’re seeing significant flight out of California and why wealthier individuals like Elon Musk are leaving for states like Texas and Florida.”

Ballotpedia has tracked several initiatives and legislative referrals related to government responses to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, six ballot measures have qualified for the November ballot. In Alabama, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election. In Arkansas, the state legislature referred two amendments that concern the state legislature’s authority to call itself into a special session and a constitutional prohibition against government burdening a person’s freedom of religion. Voters in Idaho and Kentucky will also decide on constitutional amendments related to the legislature’s power to call itself into a special session. Finally, in Utah, voters will decide on an amendment to authorize increases to the appropriation limit during emergencies.

For the 2022 election cycle, 53 initiatives were filed in California, which is the second-lowest amount filed between 2014 and 2022 in the state. The highest number of initiatives filed occurred in 2016 with 135, and the lowest number of initiatives were filed for the 2020 ballot with 46.

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Online sports betting initiative campaign in California submits 1.6 million signatures

On May 2, ​​Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support announced that proponents had submitted 1.6 million signatures to local election officials for verification to place an initiative that would legalize online sports betting in the state on the ballot. Sports betting in any form is currently illegal in California.

The initiative was filed on Aug. 31, 2021, and signatures were due on May 3, 2022. Since the measure is a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute, the required number of signatures is 997,139, or 8% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. The deadline for signature verification is June 30.

The initiative would authorize a gaming tribe, an online sports betting platform with an operating agreement with a gaming tribe, or a qualified gaming company with a market access agreement with a gaming tribe to operate online sports betting for individuals 21 years of age or older in the state but outside of Indian lands. Qualified gaming companies would be required to be licensed to offer online sports betting in at least 10 states or territories or licensed to offer online sports betting in at least five states or territories and operate at least 12 casinos. After deducting regulatory costs, 85% of the revenue from licensing fees, renewals, and sports betting taxes would be allocated to the California Solutions to Homelessness to the Mental Health Support Account and 15% to the Tribal Economic Development Account. The amendment would take effect on January 1, 2023.

The initiative also states that it is not in conflict with an initiative, which would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks, that has already qualified for the November ballot. However, the initiative would be in conflict with the other potential online sports betting initiative sponsored by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. If both online sports betting initiatives qualify for the ballot, the initiative with the highest majority approval rate would take effect.

Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support reported over $100 million in contributions according to its latest campaign finance filings. The top donors to the committee included BetMGM LLC ($16.7 million), FanDuel Sportsbook ($16.7 million), and DraftKings ($16.7 million).

There are two PACs registered in opposition to the initiative—Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming and Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming. The committees reported a combined total of $65.6 million in contributions. The top donors included the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians ($25 million), the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservation California ($10 million), and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($7.1 million).

The initiative has received support from the mayors of Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (D) said, “I’m joining my fellow mayors in endorsing this important initiative because this is an all-hands on deck moment in our fight against homelessness. To solve California’s homelessness crisis over the long term, we need sustainable sources of funding to house those experiencing homelessness and provide them the medical and mental health services they need. That’s what this measure provides.”

Apart from opposition from the state’s Indian tribes, the initiative is opposed by smaller sports betting companies that do not meet the requirements to operate within the state under the proposed measure. Doug Terfher, vice president of marketing for MaximBet, said, “We want (California) to be as open and available to as many operators as possible with where we are in our growth journey.” 

Sports betting is legal and operational in 30 states and D.C. Since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. NCAA that overturned the federal ban on sports betting, five states have legalized sports betting through a ballot measure with an average approval rate of 58.99%.

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Campaign to place an income tax for education funding on Idaho ballot submits signatures

On May 2, Reclaim Idaho, the campaign behind an initiative to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000 and increase the corporate income tax rate, submitted over 95,269 signatures for verification. The required number of signatures is 64,945, which is equal to 6% of the registered voters at the state’s last general election. Idaho also has a distribution requirement that requires signatures equal to at least 6% of registered voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts to be included in petitions. Reclaim Idaho said it had met the distribution requirement in 20 legislative districts.

The initiative, referred to as the “The Quality Education Act” by the campaign, would increase the state income tax for individuals, trusts, and estates with incomes above $250,000 to $16,097 plus 10.925%. This is up from the existing rate of 6.5%. The initiative would require that the new tax income bracket be changed annually by an adjustment factor equal to the consumer price index for the calendar year of 2024 divided by the consumer price index for the calendar year preceding. The new tax brackets and tax rates would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The tax bracket would not be adjusted for inflation until 2025.

The initiative would also increase the corporate income tax from 6.5% to 8%. According to the Tax Foundation, 44 states levy a corporate income tax ranging from 2.5% in North Carolina to 11.5% in New Jersey.

The initiative would also establish the Quality Education Fund. Revenues from the increased income tax would be deposited into the fund. The initiative states that the funds should be appropriated by the state board of education. It would prohibit funds from being appropriated to pay the salaries of superintendents, principals, or other administrators. It would also give the state board of education the power to promulgate rules to implement the initiative.

Reclaim Idaho attempted to place the initiative on the ballot in 2020 but announced it was suspending its campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign filed a lawsuit against the state, which refused to allow the campaign to use DocuSign to electronically collect signatures. In July 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state ordering an emergency stay on a lower court’s order that authorized the campaign to collect signatures electronically.

The initiative has won the endorsement of the Idaho Education Association, which unanimously endorsed it at its meeting last month. Luke Mayville, a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “Most people do not view education as political. They understand that quality education relies on government, and therefore relies on politicians to do their jobs and fund public schools, but they don’t view funding for education as a controversial political topic. They view it as a no-brainer.” As of March 2022, the campaign has raised over $579,000 in contributions.

State Sen. Steven Thayn (R), who is the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “I am not supportive. First of all, I think it’s based on a false assumption that money will improve education, and that is not necessarily the case. The No. 1 need in education is not more money.”

The statutory deadline to submit signatures was May 1, 2022, but the secretary of state allowed campaigns to submit signatures on May 2, since the official day fell on a Sunday.

Five other initiative campaigns were cleared for signature gathering, but Reclaim Idaho is the only campaign that has collected more than the required number of signatures. The other initiatives included medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana legalization, an increased minimum wage, changes to initiative signature requirements, and a referendum on signature distribution requirements.

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Texas May 7 ballot measure election preview

Texas voters are heading to the polls on May 7 to decide two statewide constitutional amendments and a variety of local ballot measures.

The constitutional amendments concern state property taxes. Proposition 1 would amend the state constitution to authorize the state legislature to reduce the property tax limit for school maintenance and operations taxes levied on the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents to reflect any tax rate reduction enacted by law from the preceding tax year. In 2019, the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 3 (HB 3), which provided school maintenance and operations tax rate compression. However, the rate reduction did not apply to the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents. Proposition 1 would extend the reduction to include those homesteads.

Proposition 2 would increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. The increased exemption would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and applies only to a tax year beginning on or after that date. Voters last increased the exemption in 2015 with the passage of Proposition 1, which increased it from $15,000 to $25,000.

The amendments have both been endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board, and the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board. The Austin Chronicle Editorial Board endorsed Proposition 1 but came out in opposition to Proposition 2, saying, “Prop 2 is much more straightforward but is also just straight-up pandering. It’s almost guaranteed to pass now that everyone’s seen their new tax appraisals, but increasing the school district homestead exemption (from $25,000 to $40,000) is the coward’s way out of broad-based tax relief: Schools really need that money, and in many cases, this simply shifts the burden to renters.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), the sponsor of both amendments, said, “People see the need for property tax relief, and Texans are going to cry out for that continuously. This is a great way to bring that home to all of the taxpayers of Texas.”

Ballotpedia is also covering 25 local ballot measures in Texas. Austin voters will decide on Proposition A, which would decriminalize marijuana and prohibit the use of no-knock warrants. The proposition is a ballot initiative that was sponsored by Ground Game Texas. Supporters include former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D), gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), former State Rep. Wendy Davis (D), and Austin Mayor Stephen Adler (D).

Voters in San Antonio will decide on six bond issues totaling $1.2 billion. The revenue from the bonds would fund streets and sidewalk improvements, drainage and flood projects, parks and recreation, library and cultural facilities, public safety, and housing for households at certain income levels.

Fort Worth voters will decide on five bond issues and 13 charter amendments. The five bond issues total $560 million for roads and transportation improvements, parks and recreation, library improvements, police and public safety, and natural area and open space projects. The 13 charter amendments relate to salary increases for the mayor and city council members; city redistricting standards; requirements for the removal of local officials; initiative petitions; annexation elections; the role of the city’s independent auditor; and other local government administration.

Early voting started on Monday, April 25, and runs through Tuesday, May 3. On election day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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Ballot initiative to increase funding for arts and music education in California schools submits signatures

The campaign behind an initiative to increase funding for arts and music education in California public schools announced it had submitted 1 million signatures for verification on April 26. The required number of signatures to place the proposed law on the 2022 ballot is 623,212, which is equal to 5% of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election.

In California, the signature verification deadline is June 30, 2022. However, the process of verifying signatures can take multiple months and proponents are recommended to file signatures at least two months before the verification deadline.

The ballot initiative was filed with the state on Nov. 1, 2021. The attorney general issued ballot language on Jan. 5, 2022, clearing the initiative for signature gathering.

The proposed law would require a minimum source of annual funding for K-12 public schools to fund arts and music education programs. The annual minimum amount would be equal to, at minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the prior fiscal year and be in addition to the education funding minimum provided by Proposition 98. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the ballot initiative would likely result in increased spending of $800 million to $1 billion each fiscal year.

Of the total amount guaranteed under the 1% additional minimum funding for arts education, 70% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of the statewide enrollment of K-12 students in the prior fiscal year. The other 30% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of economically disadvantaged students (defined as students eligible for the National School Lunch Program). 

One PAC, Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools, was registered in support of the ballot initiative. It has received over $6 million in contributions according to its latest campaign finance filings. The top donors include Austin Beutner ($2,950,000), Steven A. Ballmer ($1,500,000), Monica Rosenthal ($1,000,000), Fender Musical Instruments ($328,267), and Comcast ($100,000).

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (D) and former Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District Austin Beutner wrote in an op-ed, “Only 1 in 5 public schools in California has a dedicated teacher for traditional arts programs like music, dance, theater and art, or newer forms of creative expression like computer graphics, animation, coding, costume design and filmmaking. … This initiative is timely as our country seeks to create a more just and equitable future for all children. A boost in arts and music education will help ensure the future workforce in media and technology properly reflect the diversity of the children in our public schools.”

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board has come out in opposition to the initiative, saying, “This is a bad idea. Right now, state coffers are flush. But when revenue becomes tight in the future, the governor and Legislature need as much flexibility in the budget as possible to make sure that critical needs are funded. What happens if the student population plummets in future years while the number of disabled elderly people grows?”

Between 2014 and 2022, the year with the highest number of initiatives filed in California was 2016 with 135. The total for 2022 was 53 making it the second-lowest number of initiatives filed; 2020 had 46 initiatives filed.

Four statewide ballot propositions have qualified for the ballot in California. Voters could decide on an initiative to legalize in-person sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks; an initiative to increase the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits; an initiative to reduce the use of plastic waste and enact a fee on single-use plastic; and a veto referendum to uphold the ban on flavored tobacco sales. ​​Initiative proponents may withdraw an initiative from the ballot at any time before June 30, 2022.

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