There are 12 California ballot initiatives lost in the noise of the 2020 pandemic presidential election, but here are the state measures whose ads will soon clog your mailbox and television airwaves.
The 2020 Presidential election is dominating all the oxygen, attention, and energy this election season, and rightfully so, considering the fate of America as a free and functional nation is absolutely on the line. And while the six months of shelter-in-place have inhibited the normal signature-gathering for local and state measures, the California ballot is still as infamously packed as it is most years. New York Magazine describes several of the 2020 California ballot measures as attempts at “reversing and eroding old conservative ballot measures” like the infamous 1978 property tax measure Prop. 13, but that’s only half the story. The two measures that have brought in by far the most political contributions are massive corporate-funded efforts attempting to avoid regulation.
We examine each of the 2020 state ballot measures in a quick primer below, listing them not in their numerical order, but by how much they’ve drawn in contributions according to the California Fair Practices Commission. These are the measure most likely to inundate your TV watching and mailbox with aggressive advertising, so where’s what they are, how much is being spent on them, and in cases when possible, what their polling looks like 46 days from the election.
Prop. 22 - App-Based Delivery Drivers ($190 Million)
Lyft users may have received this wildly misleading email, and that’s one of the cheaper forms of advertising that Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Postmates have dumped more than $181 million into to pass Prop. 22 according to state data (opponents have rustled up only a few million). What the apps describe as “drivers' flexibility and freedom” is in fact freedom for the app-based companies to avoid classifying their drivers as employees as now required by California law under AB-5. (A law which they are breaking anyway.) A Yes vote means the apps can continue to not provide minimum wage, sick leave, or health care to their primary workforce, and a No vote means they would have to provide said benefits.
The Chronicle endorsed Prop. 22, saying “Don’t stifle the gig economy.” Mission Local took the Chronicle to the woodshed, calling the endorsement “loathsome” and noting that these companies “intentionally break the law.” Polling firm Redfield & Wilton says the measure is comfortably ahead 41-26, but with a sizable 34 percent undecided, and varying results depending on how the question is asked.
#Prop23 puts the lives of dialysis patients at risk by forcing hundreds of dialysis clinics to cut back services or shut down. That’s why @CMAdocs, American Nurses Association/CA, @PatientCitizen, and over 100 other organizations urge you to vote #NoProp23 https://t.co/ExPocMzihb pic.twitter.com/ZWRia4CPGQ— No On Proposition 23 (@VoteNoProp23) September 17, 2020
Prop 23 - Kidney Dialysis Clinic Regulation ($98 Million)
Dialysis again? Yep. After the massively expensive 2018 Prop. 8 dialysis measure regulated costs in the industry, this year’s Prop. 23 would regulate the clinics themselves and establish minimum staffing requirements. Unsurprisingly, the ad above, and the $93 million of the $98 million cited above, comes from for-profit dialysis clinics hoping to avoid regulation. We found no polling on the measure.
Prop. 19 - Property Tax Transfers ($51 Million)
The realtor industry has poured the vast majority of the above-referenced $51 million into a measure that would allow homeowners to transfer their tax assessments elsewhere within the state. But it would also increase taxes on inherited homes, with the additional revenue going towards fighting wildfires. We found no polling on the matter.
The future of CA - ultimately the future of America - is about defeating ANYTHING that a Marxist like Newsom supports. Simply put: if Newsom wins and prop 15 passes in CA, then the middle class in the US is toast. #Prop15 https://t.co/9Paf5wKR2A— Graham Ledger (@GrahamLedger) September 12, 2020
Prop. 15 - Property Tax Increase and Essential Undoing the Infamous 1978 Prop. 13 ($41 Million)
Cue up the charges of Marxism and the undoing of America, as Prop. 15 would tax commercial and industrial properties on their market value rather than their purchase price. This would create a windfall for schools and local governments and fulfill a longtime California liberal wet dream. Community groups and the Chan-Zuckerbergs have footed much of the $28 million supporting it, big agriculture and a whole lot of golf and yacht enthusiasts have ponied up thus far $14 million in opposition. (A podcast by Malcolm Blackwell a couple years back pointed out how a golf course in the middle of Los Angeles enjoyed insanely low property taxes due to Prop. 13.) The Chron recently cited polling that had the measure ahead with 51 percent supporting and 40 percent opposing, with 9 percent undecided.
It would seem that a major backer of the "progressive" rent control ballot measure in CA @YesOn21CA is shelling big $$ out to a GOP firm that does work for @realDonaldTrump, Mike Pence and others. https://t.co/7LdlIhENJp— Liz Mair (@LizMair) September 11, 2020
Prop. 21 - Rent Control ($38 Million)
According to the above-referenced filing, our controversial “friends” at LA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, no strangers to stirring up shit in SF, have provided the majority of the $15 million supporting the expanded rent control measure Prop. 21. Business and landlord PACs have mostly bankrolled the $23 million opposition, while tons of individual landlords have given modest donations to defeat it. There’s no polling, but Gavin is against it describing an “all-too-real risk of discouraging availability of affordable housing in our state.”
JUST RELEASED: Full report from the latest #PPICsurvey featuring findings on #Prop15 ("split roll" tax) and #Prop16 (#AffirmativeAction), presidential #Election2020 (Biden leads), Gov. @GavinNewsom's approval rating, and more. https://t.co/BpmQXtIKR4.— Public Policy Institute of California (@PPICNotes) September 17, 2020
Prop. 16 - Reinstating Affirmative Action ($9 Million)
The hot-button issue of repealing the 1996 affirmative action ban at universities and in state contracts has drawn fairly pedestrian donations from opponents, and most of the $9 million in support from labor and traditionally Demcoratic-affiliated groups. But New York Magazine notes it’s polling poorly. “Proposition 16 isn’t doing well, with 31 percent of likely voters saying they’ll vote yes and 47 percent indicating they’ll vote no,” they note. "Only 46 percent of Democrats support it, and indies oppose it 58/26. Crosstabs indicates that Latinos and nonwhite 'others' (a catchall category that includes Blacks, Asian Americans, and Native Americans) are leaning toward no, and Prop 16 is losing in the very liberal San Francisco area 30/44."
As the Mercury News recently reported, a core constituency among the opposition is Asian Americans, who believe that repealing the affirmative action ban will mean fewer spots for Asian kids at California public universities.
Six Other Propositions
Far less money has poured into these propositions, so you may not hear as much about them, but they’re on your California ballot too.
- Prop. 14 - Authorizes Bonds to Continue Funding Stem Cell and Other Medical Research.
- Prop. 17 - Restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole
- Prop. 18 - Allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primaries and special elections
- Prop. 20 - Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection
- Prop. 24 - Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act
Image: @tiffanytertipes via Unsplash