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A guide to California's 2020 propositions

A dozen propositions are on the ballot covering a range of topics from voting rights to rent control to tax rules.

CALIFORNIA, USA — California voters have a lot to consider in the upcoming November election. A dozen propositions are on the ballot this year covering a range of topics from voting rights to rent control to tax rules.

Here is a rundown of each of the props with links for more information on each. 

Prop 14: Stem cell research 

California Proposition 14 is a vote to approve $5.5 billion dollars for stem cell research and research facilities in the state. In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71. It gave legal protection to stem cell research that was hoping to find new medical treatments or cures for everything from Parkinson’s to cancer. Proposition 71 also approved spending more than $3 billion to use for stem cell research and to build research facilities. Since 2004, most of the funding has been spent.

Proposition 14 would help to continue the funding of the existing research program with an additional $5.5 billion. 

The full name of Prop 14 is The California Stem Cell Research, Treatments, and Cures Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 14 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 15: Commercial property taxes

Proposition 15 is on the ballot in 2020 to amend the tax caps set by Proposition 13 back in 1978.  

The voters chose to pass Proposition 13 back in 1978 to cap property taxes on properties at 1% of the sales price and the property taxes can only increase a maximum of 2% per year. That means that California property owners are paying property taxes based on the price that they originally paid for the property, typically much less than what it is actually valued at today. This is the same for both residential and commercial properties.

Proposition 15 is on the ballot now to amend what was done back in 1978 to eliminate the 2% increase cap, but only for business properties. 

The full name of Prop 15 is the Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 15 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 16: Affirmative action

Depending on who you ask, Proposition 16 is either about promoting affirmative action or undoing a legal guarantee of equal rights. 

Voting will come down to what you believe is the best way to address racial inequality. 

This proposition is on the ballot to amend the California constitution. 

Supporters of Proposition 16 argue the state needs to award more opportunities to minorities and women as a way to correct for centuries of economic and political privilege falling primarily on white men. 

Opponents argue the ends don’t justify the mean and that if equality is the end goal then the most important thing is to keep equal treatment written into the law. 

The full name of Prop 16 is the Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment of 2020. Read more about Prop 16 in the California General Election Guide here.

RELATED: News 8's First-Time Voters weigh in on state propositions

Prop 17: Parolee voting rights

Proposition 17 would allow convicted felons to more quickly restore their rights to vote in elections by legalizing voting for people who get out of prison on parole.  

In 1974, California voters passed a ballot measure giving people who have committed felonies the right to vote once they complete their sentences and are no longer on parole.

The state legislature put Proposition 17 on the ballot to ask voters to change the law and allow voting rights to be restored sooner.

This would not put California way out on a limb. Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia already allow people to vote while on parole. 

The full name of Prop 17 is the Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment of 2020. Read more about Prop 17 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 18: Voting for 17-year-olds in primary elections

 Proposition 18 is on the ballot to allow Californians to decide who has the right to vote.

This proposition is about letting 17-year-olds vote and it is not as sweeping as it sounds.

Proposition 18 would make a very specific change to the voting rights for 17-year-old citizens that only affects primary elections.  

If passed, it will allow voting for 17-year-olds in a primary or special election as long as they will turn 18 years old by the proceeding general election.   

The full name of Prop 18 is the Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment of 2020. Read more about Prop 18 in the California General Election Guide here.

RELATED: Why is the voting age 18?

Prop 19: Property tax breaks

There are two main parts to Proposition 19, a tax increase as well as a tax benefit. 

The tax hike will be for people who inherit property from their family.

The tax benefit is to help seniors, the disabled, and victims of wildfires and disasters.

The full name of Prop 19 is the Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment of 2020. Read more about Prop 19 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 20: Crime crackdown

Proposition 20 offers a mix of policies meant to make state laws tougher on crime.

If passed, there are three main things it would amend in the state constitution:

  1. Increase penalties for some kinds of stealing
  2. Make it harder for people to get out of prison on supervised release
  3. Require the government to collect DNA samples in more criminal cases

The full name of Prop 20 is the Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 20 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 21: Expanding rent control

Prop 21 is taking another stab at expanding rent control from the same campaign that tried it two years ago in the midterms. This time around, things are different with a slightly softer plan than what was previously introduced.

The lay, or law, of the land is also different this year as well. Since the last time Californians voted on this, state lawmakers enacted a rent cap and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it.

Rent can only go up 5% plus inflation each year on most rentals in California for the next decade.

Apart from that, California only allows rent control at the local level.

Prop 21 would let cities and counties place rent controls on more properties, expanding on current state law.

The full name of Prop 21 is the Local Rent Control Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 21 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 22: Classification and benefits for gig workers

The state of California has been fighting with companies that employ drivers through apps for a long time now about how to treat the drivers. The industry, which includes companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, wants the drivers to stay “independent contractors," but some lawmakers want them to be recognized as "employees" in order to get benefits and minimum wage.  

Keeping drivers as "independent contractors" is cheaper for the companies and also at the core of their business. They sold drivers on the idea of only working when they want to log on to the app.

But California legislature passed a law to make these workers “employees” so the drivers can earn benefits - including overtime pay, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation -  and get paid at least minimum wage for their time.

Rideshare and app-based driver companies have paid for the campaign to ask voters to overrule elected lawmakers. That’s why we’re voting on Prop 22 which would make the drivers independent contractors with some benefits. 

The full name of Prop 22 is the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 22 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 23: Kidney dialysis, doctor staffing

Two years ago, California voters rejected new, tougher rules for dialysis clinics by a vote of 60-40. It was called Prop 8 in 2018. The same group is back in 2020, asking again for tougher rules, but just a bit less tough than last time.

Two for-profit companies, Davita and Fresenius, own about three-quarters of dialysis clinics in California. Last time, union groups tried to pass a cap on the profit these clinics can make. This time, it’s a more modest proposal to require a doctor to be on-site during all operating hours of the clinics.

Right now, each clinic needs to have a medical director who’s a doctor, but they don’t have to be there all the time. For perspective, changing that could cost each clinic a few hundred thousand dollars a year.

Prop 23 also requires dialysis centers to report infection data to the state and not just the federal government as they already do. Prop 23 would ban giving patients different treatment based on how they pay.

The full name of Prop 23 is the Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 23 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 24: Consumer privacy laws

Two years ago, state lawmakers passed what were supposed to be new, cutting-edge privacy protections into law. However, it didn’t end up doing much to change how peoples’ data was collected and shared.

Some of the same people who pushed that law through argue we need Proposition 24 to finish the job by plugging what they see as loopholes exploited by the big tech companies.

On the other hand, Prop 24 is opposed by some privacy advocates, most notably Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  

The full name of Prop 24 is the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative of 2020. Read more about Prop 24 in the California General Election Guide here.

Prop 25: Abolishing cash bail

Proposition 25 is a special kind of ballot question that we don’t see every election: a referendum.

In California, if enough people sign a petition, they can force a statewide vote on some of the new laws the legislature passes.

In 2018, the legislature passed a law to end bail.

The bail industry in California sells about $6 billion a year of those bonds and pockets $560 million in fees. Hoping to protect that business, the industry is asking you to vote no.

Instead of bail, under Prop 25, most, but not all, people arrested for misdemeanors would be automatically released within 12 hours.

For everyone else, Prop 25 would create a system to evaluate each accused person’s risk to help courts make more informed decisions about who should have to stay behind bars.

The full name of Prop 25 is the Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum of 2020. Read more about Prop 25 in the California General Election Guide here.