Tagcalifornia

Stories about California

$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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



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%.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



California School Boards Association will not renew National School Boards Association membership

California School Boards Association (CSBA) president Susan Heredia announced in a letter to CSBA members that the organization will not be renewing its membership in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at the end of the current membership period. At a board meeting on March 26, the CSBA board of directors voted not to renew membership for the period beginning July 1, 2022.

According to Heredia, the board’s recent vote was “not the first time CSBA questioned whether California’s interests were being properly represented by NSBA,” for reasons she said included “CSBA’s inequitable representation in NSBA’s governance structure and the organization’s lack of support for policy issues of importance to California.” Heredia also said, “As a result [of 21 other state school boards associations leaving the NSBA], the organization’s future is in doubt and its present situation does not offer sufficient value to justify continued membership.”

The 21 state school boards associations mentioned by Heredia terminated their NSBA membership or suspended participation in the national association between Oct. 2021 and Feb. 2022. These actions followed a Sept. 2021 letter from the NSBA to Pres. Joe Biden (D) regarding what it described as “threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators.” The NSBA later apologized for sending the letter.

While some state associations are in the process of forming a new organization called the Consortium of State School Boards Associations, Heredia said the CSBA board has chosen not to participate in any other organization and that the association “has been steadily increasing its presence in D.C. to compensate for the growing ineffectiveness of NSBA and allow for more robust and more direct advocacy on federal matters.”



California’s U.S. House races to have the most candidates per seat this year since at least 2018

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in California was March 11, 2022. This year, 265 candidates are running in California’s 52 U.S. House districts, including 126 Republicans, 112 Democrats, and 27 independent and third-party candidates. That’s 5.1 candidates per district, more than the 4.2 candidates per district in 2020 and 3.9 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in California losing one U.S. House district.
  • Thirty-four members of California’s U.S. House delegation are running for re-election in a different district than the one they currently represent. Note that, though the district numbers are new for these incumbents, it is possible that the new district lines may bear similarities to the districts they currently represent.
  • Thirteen incumbents are running for re-election in the district they currently represent.
  • Five seats are open, meaning no incumbent is running. Open-seat elections are taking place in California’s 3rd, 13th, 15th, 37th, and 42nd districts.
  • Five incumbents are not running for re-election. Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Alan Lowenthal, and Jackie Speier are retiring. Rep. Karen Bass (D) is running for election for mayor of Los Angeles.
  • A special election is currently underway to fill resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R) seat in California’s 22nd. The special general election is scheduled to take place the same day as California’s regular primary election. No candidates registered to run in the general election ran in the special election, meaning whoever is elected in the special election will only finish Nunes’ term and will not hold office in the 118th Congress.
  • All incumbents in California are facing primary challengers. 
  • In California’s top-two primary system, all candidates are listed on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. Eleven incumbents, two Republicans and nine Democrats, are not facing intra-party primary challengers.
  • At this point, no districts are guaranteed to either party. Both Democratic and Republican candidates have filed to run in the primaries in all 52 districts. After the primaries take place, some districts may have two candidates of the same party running in the general under California’s top-two primary system.
  • The 30th district has nine candidates running, more than any other. Three Democrats, including incumbent Rep. Adam Schiff (D), four Republicans, one American Independent Party candidate, and one Green Party candidate have filed to run.

California’s U.S. House primaries are scheduled for June 7, 2022. California utilizes a top-two primary system. In a top-two primary system, all candidates are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

Additional reading:



Patricia Guerrero joins California Supreme Court

Patricia Guerrero was sworn in to the California Supreme Court on March 28, 2022. Founded in 1849, the California Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. Of the seven current justices, five were appointed by Democratic governors and two by a Republican governor. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Guerrero on Feb. 15, 2022, to a seat on the California Supreme Court to replace Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. He resigned on Oct. 31, 2021, to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed Guerrero’s appointment on March 22, 2022, and she was sworn in on March 28. Prior to joining the court, Guerrero was a judge of the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One from 2017 to 2022.

The seven justices of the California Supreme Court are selected by gubernatorial appointment. The state bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominee Evaluation recommends candidates to the governor after examining their qualifications and fitness. If they wish to retain their seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, newly-appointed judges are required to participate in yes-no retention elections occurring at the time of the next gubernatorial race, which is held every four years. After the first election, subsequent retention elections are for full 12-year terms.

California is one of 46 states to fill supreme court vacancies via a form of gubernatorial appointment. Illinois fills vacancies via the state supreme court, while Louisiana uses the special election method. Virginia and South Carolina fill vacancies through legislative elections. 

Additional reading:



School districts in California and Nebraska to hold recall elections on Feb. 15

The San Francisco Unified School District in California and the Giltner school district in Nebraska are holding recall elections against a total of four school board members on Feb. 15. Voters in both school districts will be able to cast yes votes in favor of the recalls or no votes against the recalls.

In San Francisco, three school board members are on the ballot: Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. ​​“From day one, the campaign was a campaign to get politics out of education,” Siva Raj, one of the recall petitioners and a district parent, said. “What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

Members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process at a board meeting on April 6. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. In reaction to the recall effort, Moliga said he stood behind his record. López characterized the recall against her as sexist, ageist, and racist. “We can’t let people scare us,” Collins said. “When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced her endorsement of the recall on Nov. 9. If the board members are recalled, the mayor will appoint replacements. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect ​​51,325 signatures per board member by Sept. 7.

In Giltner, one school board member is on the ballot: Chris Waddle. The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, Neb. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” Bendorf also published a statement about the recall effort, saying “what concerns me the most is hearing about families who have left due to administration dismissing concerns, current GPS parents that are looking at other options for schooling out of district, or even worse the fact they are regretting sending their child or children here.”

Waddle submitted the following response to the recall petition: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit 119 signatures of school district residents by Oct. 12.

Ballotpedia has tracked 24 school board recall efforts against 64 board members in 2022. Four school districts held recall elections in January. All seven school board members who were on the recall ballots kept their seats.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading:



California county commission recall election to be held Feb. 1

A recall election against District 2 representative Leonard Moty on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in California is scheduled for Feb. 1. Two questions are on the ballot. The first is a yes/no question asking voters whether or not they would like to recall Moty. The second is a replacement question listing candidates who filed to run for Moty’s seat if a majority of voters vote yes on the first question. Tim Garman, Dale Ball, Tony Hayward, and Tarick Mahmoud filed to run in the replacement race.

The recall effort began in April 2021 and was initially against three of the five members of the board. District 1 representative Joe Chimenti and District 3 representative Mary Rickert were named along with Moty in the notices of intent to recall. Recall supporters filed signatures for the recall against Moty by the deadline on Sept. 29. They did not submit signatures for the other two commissioners.

Recall supporters cited the following reasons for recall: 

  1. “Betrayal of public trust by not defending the county from state government overreach” and
  2. “A need for fundamental change and irresponsible handling of taxpayer money.”

They also said the recall effort was the last resort to create change and that they could not wait until the next election.

After the recall election was scheduled, Moty said he would defend his position. “Now is not the time to tear us apart as some has sought,” Moty said. “But rather it’s a time to move our county forward. I will say here and now, I refuse to allow personal attacks on myself, my family, dedicated county workers, and courageous citizens by those who would halt our progress in our county.”

Moty was first elected to the board in 2008. He was re-elected to a four-year term on Nov. 3, 2020, receiving 51% of the vote and defeating two challengers.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading: