Stories about California

California sues Trump administration for changing census procedures

California is challenging a Trump administration effort to exclude people who reside in the United States without legal permission from the census numbers used to allocate congressional districts.

On July 28, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit arguing that the July 21 presidential memorandum entitled “Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census” violates separation of powers principles, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the U.S. Constitution.

Becerra argues that Congress did not authorize President Trump to make the exclusion, and that the U.S. Commerce Department, which governs the U.S. Census Bureau, must first go through APA-required notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures in order to change its rule that census officials must count all persons at the residence where they sleep most of the time.

According to the presidential memorandum, “The Constitution does not specifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base. Although the Constitution requires the ‘persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed,’ to be enumerated in the census, that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State’s boundaries at the time of the census.” Becerra argues that the policy outlined in the memorandum would deprive California of what he called its rightful share of congressional representatives and depress the 2020 census count.

The memorandum adds that, “The discretion delegated to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an ‘inhabitant’ includes authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.” In addition, “Increasing congressional representation based on the presence of aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status would also create perverse incentives encouraging violations of Federal law. States adopting policies that encourage illegal aliens to enter this country and that hobble Federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws passed by the Congress should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives.”

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California will now decide whether to block the Trump administration’s new census policy.

Read more about the presidential memoranda and separation of powers here:
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Link to the lawsuit:
Link to the presidential memorandum:

First 2022 state ballot measure qualifies in California

The first state ballot measure for 2022 qualified for the ballot in California on July 21, 2020.

The ballot initiative would increase California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits based on changes in inflation since 1975, which is when the cap on noneconomic damages was enacted. In 2021, the damages cap of $250,000 would increase to around $1.2 million. Thereafter, the ballot measure would require an annual adjustment of the cap based on inflation. The ballot initiative would allow judges and juries to award damages above the cap for catastrophic injuries.

The Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition, which is the campaign behind the ballot measure, originally sought to place the citizen-initiated measure on the ballot for November 3, 2020. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, whose organization supports the ballot initiative, said the decision to delay filing signatures was due to the coronavirus pandemic. He stated, “This has been a really tough decision, but it’s really foggy out there now, with all the concern about the coronavirus. No one really knows how that will affect the November elections. … The medical negligence cap hasn’t changed in 45 years. We didn’t want to blow our chance.”

The Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition filed 910,667 signatures, and the secretary of state’s office projected that 75.56 percent (around 688,010) of them were valid. At least 623,212 of the signatures needed to be valid.

Two PACs—Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition and Consumer Watchdog Campaign for the Fairness for Injured Patients Act—were registered to support the ballot initiative. The committees have raised $4.78 million, including $3.65 million from attorney Nicolas Rowley. The Californians to Protect Patients and Contain Health Care Costs PAC was registered to oppose the ballot initiative. The committee has raised $18.32 million, including $9.80 million from The Doctors Company.

In 2014, Consumer Watchdog worked on a similar ballot initiative, titled Proposition 46, which was defeated. Proposition 46 would have increased the cap on noneconomic damages from $250,000 to $1.00 million and required drug and alcohol testing of doctors.

Two other California ballot initiative campaigns are currently collecting signatures to get their proposals on the 2022 general election ballot. Both of the campaigns originally wanted their measures on the 2020 ballot but changed course due to the coronavirus pandemic and related stay-at-home orders. Court orders granted both of the campaigns additional time to collect signatures.

Signatures are due on September 28, 2020, for a 2022 initiative to adopt regulations that reduce the use of product packaging, single-use packaging, and single-use dishes and utensils.

Signatures are due on October 12, 2020, for a 2022 initiative to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California.

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California statewide ballot measures are finalized after one week delay

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.
Additional reading:

California consumer privacy ballot initiative qualifies for November ballot

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.

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Californians to vote on ballot measure to provide state stem cell research institute with more money

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.

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Voters in California will decide a ballot initiative to enact new dialysis clinic requirements

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.

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California Assembly passes bill for ballot measure to repeal Proposition 209, which banned considering race and sex in public jobs, education, and contracting in 1996

On June 10, the California State Assembly passed a constitutional amendment to repeal Proposition 209, which received 54.55 percent of the vote in 1996. Proposition 209 prohibited the state from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

In California, a two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the California State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration. In the state Assembly, the vote was 60 to 14—seven votes above the two-thirds threshold. Democrats, along with one Republican and the chamber’s one independent, supported for the constitutional amendment. Fourteen Republicans opposed the constitutional amendment.

Asm. Shirley Weber (D-79), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, is the principal sponsor of the constitutional amendment in the state Legislature. Asm. Weber stated, “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.” Asm. Weber said that the constitutional amendment is about “equal opportunity for all and investment in our communities.”

Asm. Steven S. Choi (R-68), one of the Republicans who voted against the amendment, said, “Repealing Proposition 209, enacted by voters 24 years ago, is to repeal the prohibition of judgment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin. We are talking about legalizing racism and sexism.”

To appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020, the California State Senate needs to pass the constitutional amendment by June 25. At least 27 votes will be needed in the state Senate. Democrats control 29 of the Senate seats, while Republicans hold 11 seats.

As of June 11, no legislative referrals have been placed on the November ballot in California, but 10 have passed at least one chamber. Amendments related to sports betting and remote legislative proceedings are also being considered before the June 25 deadline.

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Three states release guidance for reopening schools

Officials in three states—California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina—released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 year. Schools in all three states have been closed to in-person instruction since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, schools in four states (Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming) have reopened to in-person instruction after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three other states have announced they will reopen schools, and officials in four states have released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Voters approve California school board recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Leanne Ibarra and Jose Lara from their positions on the El Rancho Unified School District Board of Education in California was approved by voters on June 2, 2020. Joseph Rivera was elected to replace Lara, and Esther Mejia was elected to replace Ibarra. The election was conducted entirely by mail-in ballot in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lara resigned from his seat effective February 5, 2020. At a school board meeting on January 21, 2020, Lara said he was leaving in order to focus on his family while his son recuperated from an illness. His name was still on the recall election ballot. If a majority of voters had cast ballots to retain him, the school board would have appointed his replacement.

The recall effort began in May 2019. Recall supporters listed a number of concerns with the board, including a vote to notify 23 administrators they could be fired or reassigned, a vote to demote, transfer, and release six administrators, and the alleged mismanagement of a $200 million bond. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect at least 6,509 signatures by October 23, 2019. In an interview with the Whittier Daily News, Lara said, “The community of Pico Rivera has been driven along a misinformation campaign. They’ve only heard one side of the story.”

Lara was first elected to the five-member board on November 5, 2013, and Ibarra was first elected on November 6, 2018. Before Lara resigned, Lara and Ibarra were members of a three-person majority on the board, according to the Whittier Daily News. The third member of the majority, Gabriel Orosco, was not included in the recall effort as his term is up for election in 2020. The other two members of the board supported the recall.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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California governor issues executive order authorizing counties to consolidate polling places in Nov. 3 general election

On June 3, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued an executive order giving counties permission to consolidate polling places in the Nov. 3 general election, provided they offer three days of early voting. Newsom authorized counties to operate one polling place per 10,000 registered voters, provided that those locations are open eight hours per day from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 for early voting.

On May 8, Newsom issued an executive order directing county officials to deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election. California is one of five states that have opted to send absentee/mail-in ballots automatically to all eligible voters in certain elections. It is the first state to extend that practice to the Nov. 3. general election.