So, time to take a look at CA’s plethora of ballot props. It’s a heavy year for props, with a wide range of topics and some big ticket proposals. Historically, I have leant very heavily towards “NO” on most Propositions, due to what I perceive as abuse and overuse of ballot initiatives in CA. If the topic was too technical or detailed, I wanted it handled in the Legislature. If it involved funding for ongoing needs, I wanted those handled through the General Fund rather than bonds or “dedicated tax revenues” (which I consider tax micro-management.) In general, if it was coming from corporate groups, corporate funded groups, or even corporate-exploited/adjacent groups, I was a NO. Over the last 15 to 20 years I’ve only voted YES on a few narrow propositions. This year, gestures broadly at everything I was feeling more open-minded. So here are my takes, for discussion and comment:
Warning: this is super long b/c there are many props and I have something to say on most.
Prop 14 Stem Cell Funding - YES - This is a bond measure and fairly technical but it has strong positive policy bona fides IMO and the analysis convinced me the prior round of funding of this type a few years back was well spent, so I’m a YES. In prior elections this might have made the grade to Yes for me but it was would have been closer. This year is like, well when I read the GOP tax-hating BS opposition argument I literally wrote “FUCK YOU” on my voter guide.
Prop 15 - Partial Reform/Repeal of Prop 13 in regard to Commercial Properties - YES FUCK YES FUCK YOU GOP YES - Prop 13 has long been a hated devil in my view of CA politics and this prop seems like a reasonable adjustment, allowing owners with commercial properties of $3 million and up to be taxed at fair market value. The GOP anti-tax jihadis are opposing so I wrote FUCK YOU on their ballot argument too. Buncha whiners. This is looooooooooong overdue.
Prop 16 - Allows consideration of racial diversity as a factor in college admissions, hiring, etc. - TBD - This is a partial repeal of the “Ward Connerly Initiative” from the 90s which did away with affirmative action in CA. I’m pretty conflicted on this issue. I don’t want race to be used to discriminate but I understand that affirmative action has a potentially positive role. On the other hand, this doesn’t include consideration of economic status which I feel needs to be in the mix as well as racial/gender/etc. diversity considerations. Part of me wants to support this b/c the usual GOP jerks are opposing it but I dunno. I appreciate input on this one.
Prop 17 - Restores voting rights to felons on completion of prison terms. - YES - This is a good example of something I would support even in a normal year - something fairly straightforward and good policy but hard for the Legislature to fix due to anti-crime-pandering and cowardice. CA already restores voting rights in most cases but only after completion of all parole etc. After seeing the idiocy in Florida with fines, a nice clean “restore voting rights when prison term completed” seems extremely reasonable to me.
Prop 18 - Allows 17 year olds to vote in primary and special elections if they would be eligible to vote in the next General Election. - YES - This seems relatively straightforward to me - if you can vote in the general election, voting in the preceding special or primary elections makes sense. Also, something the Legislature can’t do b/c it requires a change to the state Constitution.
Prop 19 - Essentially limits some property transfer rules that enable certain types of estate tax dodging. - YES - It’s a little technical but it limits the kind of BS I hate, and that is hard for a lobbied legislature to fix so I’m for it.
Prop 20 - Restricts parole for certain offenses and elevates some offenses to felonies. - NO - I’d be against this on my old general principles and also on policy grounds but on top of that when reading the arguments, the “Yes” argument is such a facile evocation of FEAR CRIME!! CRIME BAD!! TROPE TROPE!! that I wrote “FUCK YOU” on my ballot guide yet again.
Prop 21 - Increases ability of local governments to enact rent control - TBD - On the one hand, I really want more affordable housing in CA, but I’m not sure direct rent control is the best approach. This is pretty technical, and I saw a lot of conflicting claims in the arguments. I’m open to input on this one.
Prop 22 - Exempts businesses like Uber and Lyft from the new law and allows them to continue to treat employees as independent contractors - NO HELL NO!! F U UBER AND LYFT HELL THE F NO! - This is an issue I’ve studied very intensely as a workers’ compensation lawyer and yeah, Uber, Lyft and the whole gig economy need to comply with reasonable labor laws and treat their employees like employees. I can discuss this in more detail if folks care.
Prop 23 - Some complicated thing about kidney dialysis - NO - Why is this an initiative? Probably b/c some deep pocket thinks it can hoover up some bucks. It’s complicated, it’s medical, it’s technical, and it’s a classic example of why we need Legislatures with staffs and committees.
Prop 24 - Changes consumer privacy laws - TBD - I am in favor of better protecting consumer privacy and more strongly regulating corporations, but I’m not sure if this does that. There are arguments that this prop actually weakens a stronger law the legislature already passed, but it’s so technical and out of my area it’s hard to tell. I’m leaning NO but I would appreciate input.
Prop 25 - Reaffirms a law that replaces money bail with a system based on public safety and flight risk. YES - Based on my deeper understanding of the prison-industrial complex and systemic racism in recent years, this is a no-brainer to me.
So that’s a lot more YESes than I would normally have, some due to the content, some due to me, some due to "gestures vaguely at everything*.