Editors Note: When this story was originally published, there were 12 propositions on the November ballot. The California Supreme Court blocked Proposition 9, the Three Californias initiative, from the ballot on July 18.
Californians will vote on a dozen ballot measures this fall, a decline from the 17 that appeared during the last presidential election — but still a testament to the fact that “citizens love” the initiative process, according to one expert.
“Poll after poll shows that not only citizens support strongly the initiative process, but they believe they do a better job making policy then the Legislature and the governor,” said Wesley Hussey, an associate professor of political science at Sacramento State.
Lawmakers finalized the Nov. 6 propositions on Thursday, and state voters will decide on everything from rent control and the transportation tax to splitting the Golden State into three and even getting rid of daylight saving.
As usual, getting up to speed on a dozen measures will be a heavy lift for voters. But the scope of the propositions isn’t likely to diminish in future years. As Hussey explained, the way that initiatives get on the ballot likely won’t change any time soon, because voters “are pretty much against any major, or even somewhat minor, reform to the process.”
Here’s a roundup of Nov. 6 propositions:
Affordable Housing And Home-Purchase Assistance For Veterans: If passed, Proposition 1 would authorize the sale of $4 billion in bonds to finance existing housing programs, as well as infrastructure work and grants to match a local housing trust fund dollar-to-dollar. One-quarter of this $4 billion would help veterans purchase farms, homes and mobile homes.
Using Mental Health Dollars For Low-Income Housing: Proposition 2 would free up $2 billion in bonds to pay to build housing that includes mental health services for chronically homeless people. The original bonds are part of the Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004 to provide mental health services to Californians. Legislators tried to appropriate this money two years ago, but that law has been tied up in courts ever since.
Revisiting Daylight Saving: California lawmakers have flirted with ditching seasonal time changes for years. Proposition 7 itself would not make permanent or abolish daylight saving time. The measure repeals a 1949 voter-approved proposition that established Daylight Saving Time in California. This would leave it up to the Legislature to decide how the state’s time should be set. The Legislature could then establish year-round Daylight Saving Time in California with a two-thirds vote and Congressional approval. The driving force behind the measure, San Jose Democratic Assemblymember Kansen Chu, has been fighting to end spring-forward/fall-back time changes for the past few years with no success — until his bill ended up on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk this week. Brown signed it, and now, it’s up to the voters to decide whether or not the Legislature gets the chance to end seasonal time changes.
Authorizing Bonds for Safe Drinking Water and Water Infrastructure: With Proposition 3 voters will decide whether to authorize $8.87 billion in state bonds for water infrastructure. The majority of the revenue would go to safe drinking-water projects and watershed and fishery improvements, with money also going to habitat protection, dam repairs and other programs. The proposition also gives priority to disadvantaged communities, and would require some projects to come up with matching funds from non-state sources.
Granting Property Tax Break to Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons: Proposition 5 would grant a property tax break to property owners who are over 55 years old or severely disabled. The measure would allow them to transfer their property tax to a replacement property of equal or lesser value in a specific county.
Limiting Dialysis Clinic Revenue: If passed, Proposition 8 would put a cap how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge patients, and would impose penalties for excessive bills. The measure would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on their method of payment. In a push for accountability, clinics would also be required to report annually to the state costs, revenue and charges
Update: The California Supreme Court blocked this measure from appearing on the ballot on July 18, 2018.
Proposition 9 is just the first step in a long — many say improbable — process toward potentially splitting California into three separate states. If passed, the measure would require the governor to send the proposal to Congress for a vote, and only with congressional approval would California be allowed to split itself. The proposed divisions would create three new states: Northern California, which would encompass Sacramento, San Francisco and the 40 northern counties of California; Southern California, which would include the counties along the Eastern and Southern borders, and California, which would be made up of Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The measure is the brainchild of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, who previously tried (and failed) to get a measure proposing to split California into six states on the 2016 ballot. Both of California’s two gubernatorial candidates have said that they oppose the initiative.
Increasing Requirements for Farm Animal Confinement: Proposition 12 bans the sale of meat derived from animals and their food products that are confined within certain areas. By 2021, the measure would also require that all eggs sold in California be from hens raised according to the United Egg Producers’ 2017 cage free guidelines. California passed a similar measure in 2008, Proposition 2, which banned the sale of certain animal products if the animals were confined in spaces that left them unable to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Prop. 12 would take this one step further by laying out specific square footage requirements.
Repealing the Gas Tax: Lawmakers’ increase to the gas tax has been contentious since the moment it passed last year. Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman was recalled in June in part over his “yes” vote on the tax. Proposition 6 would allow voters to repeal the gas tax increase that currently generates revenue to pay for improvements to local roads, state highways and public transportation. Prop. 81 would also require that the Legislature submit any future tax or fee on gas or diesel fuel, or on those driving a vehicle on public highways, to voters. Gov. Jerry Brown came out hard against the measure when it qualified for the ballot, calling it “flawed and dangerous” in a tweet.
Allowing Local Authorities to Enact Rent Control: A measure seeking to give local authorities more freedom to enact rent control policies will be on the November ballot. Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and its ban on certain types of rent control, including protections for tenants of single-family homes, condos and apartments built after 1995.
Requiring Ambulance Employees To Be On-Call During Breaks: If passed, Proposition 11 would require ambulance workers at for-profit medical-response companies to be on-call during meal and rest breaks, meaning that they would need to be reachable by mobile device in case of emergency. Workers would be required to be paid at their regular rate during these breaks, and interrupted breaks would not be counted toward the breaks a worker is required to receive per shift. The measure also requires companies to provide additional specialized training to ambulance workers, and to offer mental health services to employees. Companies would be required to either offer 10 paid mental health services per year, or to offer medical insurance that covers long-term mental health care, if the company provides health insurance.
Authorizing Bonds for Children’s Hospitals: Proposition 4 would approve $1.5 billion of bonds to build, expand, renovate and equip qualifying children’s hospitals. The majority of funds would go to private nonprofit hospitals that provide services to children who qualify for certain government programs. This includes children with special needs who qualify for the for the California Children’s Services program. The rest of the funds would be allocated to the University of California’s acute care children’s clinics, and public and private nonprofit hospitals that serve qualified children.
Correction: Previous versions of this story misnamed Proposition 12, which establishes space requirements for farm animals, and misstated some of the details of Propositions 7 and 12. The story has been updated with the correct information.