What's On The Ballot? Here's A Look At California's 2020 Propositions
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / November 2, 2020
While much of the attention on the November election is focused on the race for President, Californians are going to have a lot of other decisions to make. One (or 12) of the biggest: the statewide ballot measures.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Californians are voting on a dozen state ballot propositions, this election as part of an effort to make them clear to voters, cap radios reporters focused on five of those ballot measures. So let's start off with proposition 14, prop 14 would increase state funding for STEM cell research on treatments for HIV Alzheimer's and dozens of other diseases. Supporters say it's a needed boost, but opponents call it unnecessary debt cap, radio Sammy, Kayla reports.
Speaker 2: 00:31 Hearing diseases is hard. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money advocates of STEM cell research say there isn't enough in California's coffers to fund this important work. Larry Goldstein is a neuroscience researcher who supports proposition 14. It would allow the state to purchase five and a half billion in bonds for STEM cell research,
Speaker 3: 00:49 Government financing historically has made a big difference and it will fund the steps in the clinical trial development process that we just can't get private industry or the federal government
Speaker 2: 01:03 To follow the money would go to the California Institute for regenerative medicine. It was established by a 2004 proposition that put 3 billion into STEM cell research opponents say the field is thriving and doesn't need more state funding. Jeff Sheehy is a board member of the very Institute that would receive the money he's opposed, but the rest of the board endorsed the measure. He says the Institute can thrive using federal and private money.
Speaker 3: 01:28 Why does STEM cell research suddenly deserve to have the state go into debt to fund it? What has amply funded at a federal level? It doesn't make sense. Sure. If we could have everything, you know, I would like a pony in a unicorn and a rainbow,
Speaker 2: 01:44 But Goldstein says there's plenty of money for research when it first gets going. And when it gets to clinical trials, but he says many projects need more cash to get to the finish line. The ballot measure would also increase the number of people on the independent oversight committee for the California Institute for regenerative medicine, Sammy kaolin cap, radio news.
Speaker 1: 02:03 Now onto proposition 15, which asks voters to increase funds for schools and local government by increasing property taxes on big businesses, cap radios, Chris Nichols has more,
Speaker 3: 02:15 15 is expected to raise as much as $12 billion every year from local schools, community colleges, cities, and counties. It would do this by removing a property tax protection for big businesses. One that was granted in the 1970s under proposition 13, that protection for homeowners would remain here's yes. On 15 spokesperson Alex stack, we're talking about Hollywood movie studios companies in Silicon Valley like IBM and Intel, which have been around for decades. Haven't changed. Ownership are still paying property taxes based on assessments from the 1960s and seventies under prop 15, these large corporations would have to property tax based on current market value. Right now they pay a much lower rate based on the original purchase price. But Rob Lapsley of the California business round table says the tax hike would harm, not just big companies, but small ones to large commercial properties. We'll pass the increase on to smaller tenants, such as restaurants, Lapsley says in the form of higher rents and fees. Ultimately, everybody pays this tax, but the most importantly, the small business owner is going to get hit exactly at the wrong time in this economic crisis, the tax increase would kick in in 2022 for some properties, but not until three years later for those where half or more of the tenants are small businesses. Chris Nichols, CAPP radio news
Speaker 1: 03:44 Cap radio's rundown on some important California ballot measures continues with a look at proposition 16, California repealed appealed affirmative action more than 20 years ago. But now I made protests for racial justice. Voters will have the opportunity to reinstate it. Here's CAPP radio reporter, Nicole Nixon,
Speaker 4: 04:05 Affirmative action allows public sectors and universities to consider race, ethnicity, and sex in matters of employment, education and contracts. It's meant to give a leg up to historically disadvantaged groups. California became the first state to outlaw affirmative action in 1996 through prop two Oh nine. Leo Tarell is a black man who fought to keep affirmative action in the nineties. But now the Los Angeles civil rights attorney has switched sides and is working to keep the ban in place.
Speaker 3: 04:35 Look at all these democratic cities that we're talking about right now, LA Chicago, Atlanta, you got people of color running government. We have black president for eight years. You can't have systemic discrimination with the people who are allegedly being discriminated against or the people in charge
Speaker 4: 04:51 Critics point out that America electing a black president did not end racism and some including democratic assembly, woman, Shirley Weber say there hasn't been enough progress for disadvantaged communities. Under current.
Speaker 3: 05:04 It created even more unequal opportunity. It'd be created a situation where we saw greater levels of poverty. We still see women who don't have the same opportunity as other women. We still see businesses leaving California because it is too difficult to get contracts here.
Speaker 4: 05:19 A lot has changed in society and politics since the nineties, but main arguments on both sides of affirmative action are still familiar, especially when it comes to college admissions supporters like Weber say it's necessary to even the playing field and increase opportunities for people who experienced discrimination. But opponents say affirmative action is itself. Just another form of discrimination and racism.
Speaker 1: 05:44 Reporter Nicole Nixon returns with a story on proposition 24, which would tweak the state's new digital privacy law.
Speaker 4: 05:53 You as new consumer privacy act has been in effect for less than a, but already it's backers want to strengthen it. Prop 24 would create a new state agency to enforce that law and would triple fines for companies that violate children's online privacy. It would also give consumers more control over the data. Companies collect some advocates like consumer watchdog, president Jamie court say these are good things.
Speaker 5: 06:18 This is the strongest protection in America. We have now in California and prop 24 makes it even,
Speaker 4: 06:24 But others worry. The initiative is riddled with loopholes and say, it could lead to consumers paying to shield their sensitive information.
Speaker 5: 06:31 Steps forward are, are minimal at best. Uh, and the steps backward are really problematic.
Speaker 4: 06:36 That's Jacob Snow with the ACLU of Northern California, the two sparred over the issue this month in a virtual debate, hosted by the Sacramento press club. Under current law users have to check boxes to prevent companies from selling their data. Prop 24 wouldn't change that, but snow says it should,
Speaker 5: 06:54 Uh, make privacy. The default, which is protection in California California's need. And the thing that will actually do the job of protecting people's privacy,
Speaker 4: 07:01 But supporters worry of prop 24 doesn't pass tech companies will start to chip away at California's landmark privacy law court points out that in the year after it passed special interest groups flooded the state Capitol, trying to gut the law.
Speaker 5: 07:15 It is crazy and this law will fall. If we don't lock it into statute.
Speaker 4: 07:20 Some argue that the current laws should have more time before it's changed. The California small business association says business owners spent time and money to comply and a new law would cost them more. Nicole Nixon, CAPP radio news.
Speaker 1: 07:35 And finally, there's only one referendum on this year's ballot proposition. 25 will determine whether California bands cash bail, CAPP radio. Scott rod has this report
Speaker 4: 07:47 To understand prop 25. You have to go back to 2018. Lawmakers voted to abolish the state's cash bail system, giving judges more control over defendant's pretrial release. They'd rely on computerized risk assessments to make their decision. The bail industry swiftly filed a referendum. Now it's up to voters to decide John Boucher's is with the nonprofit Californians for safety and justice or reform group that supports prop 25, meaning they want to end cash bail
Speaker 5: 08:16 Cash bail industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that has preyed off of low income and working families in particularly communities of color for a very long time,
Speaker 4: 08:25 He adds that cash bail can result in defendants confessing to crimes. They did not commit Keppra. You had no luck requesting interviews with the no on prop 25 campaign or prosecutors and victims rights groups that also oppose the measure. They argue more defendants on the street could endanger communities, but there's also opposition from some criminal justice reform groups that say prop 25 does not go far enough. John rifling is a senior researcher with human rights watch. He says it's problematic that defendant's release would be based on employment history, education level and past criminal record because the factors that they're using reflect racial and class bias within our society. Overall, the risk assessment tools they're unavoidably discriminatory supporters warn that defeating prop 25 means the legislature can't pass another law, abolishing cash bail opponents like rifling say that's not true. Lawmakers can't pass the exact same law, but they can pursue bail reforms that go further. Scott rod kept radio news.