ACA 4 (Resolution, Chapter 30). Mullin. Elections: Voting Age.
This measure would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primaries and special elections. The argument for this measure is that it would engage youth in greater likelihood of voting in general elections. Voting is essential, and we support the sentiments embodied in former President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis, champion of the Voting Rights Act: “...we (must) remember what John [Lewis] said: ‘If you don’t do everything you can to change things, then they will remain the same. You only pass this way once. You have to give it all you have.’ As long as young people are protesting in the streets, hoping real change takes hold, I’m hopeful; but we cannot casually abandon them at the ballot box...We cannot treat voting as an errand to run if we have some time. We have to treat it as the most important action we can take on behalf of democracy.”
ACA 11 (Resolution, Chapter 31). Mullin. The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfires or Natural Disasters Act
A similar measure was defeated in 2018 but has been rewritten. The measure helps qualified homeowners who are “house rich, income poor,” while it prevents use of low-tax-rate property for income generation. By terms of Proposition 58 (1986), property with low tax rates due to age of purchase could be transferred to children and grandchildren with the same rates and valuations. In many instances wealthy individuals use that property as rental income far exceeding the tax rates paid. Proposition 19 does expand the use of existing low rates for seniors, those with disabilities, victims of wildfire or natural disaster, allowing transfer or senior rates to any county and allowing the transfer three times v. once. However, it bars inherited property from being used for income generation and requires it must be used as the primary residence by those who inherited it. All such rental properties will be reassessed upward to full market status thus generating new tax revenue. This impacts 40-60,000 taxpayers. 75% of new revenues will be assigned to the Fire Protection Fund, 25% to County Revenue Protection Fund for any possible loss of tax revenue. Every older property released for actual sale will also generate higher tax rates and more revenue for the county.
Restricts Parole for Non-Violent Offenders, Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors.
This proposition makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection. It would reclassify many misdemeanors as “wobblers,” permitting crimes to be either misdemeanors or felonies. These would include firearm and vehicle theft, and unlawful use of a credit card as well as serial crime, regardless of content, and organized retail crime. The proposition would prohibit early release by reclassifying crimes as “violent.” Other crimes, committed prior to 2014 reforms, would require the perpetrator to have his or her DNA on file. Furthermore, rather than having the parole board consider applicants on the basis of fulfilling their sentences and in-prison behavior, this proposition directs the parole boards to consider the person’s age, employment prospects, etc. In sum, a person could remain in prison, regardless of compliance, if he or she were poorly educated and less employable; often racially biased. This proposition will undermine past sentencing reform measures passed by voters in recent elections. Crime is significantly lower in the past few years per the Public Policy Institute of California. These new standards would not stop crime but will swell our prison population through reclassification of offenses, to no discernable public benefit.
Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. Initiative Statute
Expands local governments’ ability to implement rent control on some housing now covered by the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act. Under the CHA, rent control cannot be implemented for housing built or occupied after 1995. Rent control cannot be used on dwellings with distinct titles such as single-family homes, condos, townhouses, etc. In light of the soaring rents in every part of California, this year’s Proposition 21 would allow local governments to abolish some CHA provisions. It upholds the bar on property first occupied in the past 16 years owned by natural persons (not those owned by corporations) with no more than two separate units, e.g., single family, condos, duplexes, subdivided units such a cooperative and community apartments. In all other eligible properties, local governments can limit rent increases to 15% during the first three years after a vacancy. While it does nothing to reduce current rental rates, it would slow the further rate increases for new tenants. Because the decision will remain in local control, it gives voice to local citizens based on perceived differences in their own communities, housing stock, and rental demand.
Changes Employment Classification Rules for App-based Transportation and Delivery Drivers. Initiative Statute.
This proposition reworks a part of AB 5 (2019) that ended “independent contractor” status for many jobs. The proposition addresses only “app-based drivers” — those who offer ride sharing or delivery services such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, etc. While AB 5 sought greater economic equity for such “gig” or casual engagement work, it has created real problems for those driving. Most drivers work erratically to fit family and other considerations into their schedules and work for several different companies at the same time. Defined shifts would cause them to quit or create real hardships. Labor groups are correct to demand assured income, benefits, protections for these novel workers, new to the labor economy. This proposition shows they have largely succeeded. The companies have created this measure that puts into law the demands put forth by unions and advocates. It will provide minimum wage plus 20%, covering drive time to pick up and from delivery; mileage; insurance for both drivers’ vehicles and workplace injury; guaranteed retention of tips; and payments for workers’ health insurance. Unions still oppose this measure, but it’s better wages than what the legislature could create for a unique group of workers, does not prohibit unionization, and offers the kinds of security as well as flexibility desired by drivers. The companies were forced to do well by their drivers. In sum, unions and advocates already won this argument for drivers that is better for these workers than most part time employees will get under AB 5 or current labor laws. It would be immoral to deny drivers this benefit simply because it came from the employers and not from unions and others. The proposition in no way impacts temporary workers who are hired for 9 to 5 positions. Those are very different working conditions and not addressed in this measure. They remain covered by the terms and standards set by AB 5. While this proposition does not go as far as we wish, it is a step in the right direction for many workers. There is nothing in this initiative to prevent the legislature from further strengthening it. We understand this is controversial, but for these reasons, we join our friends at the California NAACP in supporting this measure.
Authorizes State Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Establishes Minimum Staffing and Other Requirements. Initiative Statute.
Revisiting Prop. 8 (2018), this measure regulated private, for-profit dialysis clinics. It requires a physician on-site at dialysis clinics and monitoring blood pathogens regularly. This was defeated last time due largely to fears that for-profit dialysis centers would use the increased regulations to raise fees and to turn down poor or underinsured patients. All patients are guaranteed equal treatment in this measure. These provisions, coupled with state regulation of clinics trying to close entirely, provide safeguards for access to service along with safeguards for patient well-being. Dialysis often transmits blood-born infections; with too little monitoring, such infections can be fatal. SEIU health care workers’ union sponsors this ballot measure. It has no impact on their unionization efforts. This version of the ballot measure provides patient-centered regulation and will improve an essential service many people need but are not now obtaining either in fact or in quality
Amends Consumer Privacy Laws. Initiative Statute. Expands Provisions of the CA Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Creates California Privacy Protection Agency to Implement and Enforce the CCPA
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was written by the Legislature, is enforced by the Attorney General, and went into full effect July 1, 2020. Proposition 24 purports to strengthen that law, but it has many unintended consequences that appear to weaken it. For those not well versed in technology, it is confusing. Many of the provisions about data collection that seem excellent, e.g., prohibitions on racial profiling, legal status as former convict, undocumented immigrant, can slip through the cracks. You may have seen popups asking if some company you’re researching may use your data, but saying NO is no guarantee that your private information is not part of their baseline management information or that opting out won’t cost you more money. Since the CCPA has, at this writing, operated for less than a month, these changes, opposed by ACLU, Consumer Federation of California, and Media Alliance, among others, simply cannot tackle how the existing law will function. Ballot measure terms and conditions are very hard to overturn legislatively no matter how poorly they operate. We need to see how CCPA functions now before we radically and substantially amend it, especially with provisions that may make us more, not less, vulnerable to invasions of our privacy and personal data.
Referendum to Overturn a 2018 Law that Replaced Money Bail System with a System Based on Public Safety Risk
This referendum challenges a state statute to replace cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial. SB 10 gave the courts discretion to assess low, medium, and high-risk defendants who could be released or detained on those assessments rather than on a demand for cash bail. Most proffering bail had to come up with 10% for a bail bond from a private provider, and if that was impossible, the defendant languished in jail. Wealthy people got out. Poor people remained. However, SB 10 did not actually improve chances of greater justice. “Risk assessment” may be racially, culturally, and economically biased. There are no guidelines in SB 10 for what sets determinations. All three CA affiliates of American Civil Liberties Union opposed SB 10 with its unintended racial biases and potential for greater not lesser inequity. ACLU is not opposing this ballot measure since it is sponsored by the for-profit bail industry. IMPACT, however, believes the greater good requires revisiting the entire issue to assure real justice. Because it is a referendum, a YES vote is to UPHOLD SB 10. A NO vote is to return to cash bail while we revisit the issue on risk assessments and other criteria.
Recommendation: SUPPORT via a NO vote
Thank you to all who have been asking when we will be releasing our recommendations for the statewide propositions on the November 2020 California ballot!
Paper versions will be mailed out next week. We will start posting our recommendations electronically here and on Facebook beginning 2 September 2020. We will also email a PDF to everyone on our email activist list next week.
If you want to receive an electronic copy, please make sure you are on our activist list at http://www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html.
If you are able to help us with a donation to help us mobilize people of faith throughout California to vote, please contribute here: http://www.churchimpact.org/donate.html.
Our elections are the foundation blocks of our democracy. Free and fair access is imperative. We have only four months until the next general election, November 3, 2020, and assuring that everyone legally entitled to vote can vote is essential.
Black Church PAC has created the contemporary “Freedom Summer” program to reproduce the courageous voter registration drives of the early Civil Rights Era. While this drive is targeted to more Southern states than to our northern and western ones, every state has pockets of voter suppression. No one is immune.
Monday, July 6 at noon California time, there will be a webinar on Freedom Summer voter registration drives. You are invited to participate if you are Black clergy and laity or if you serve a diverse population in areas where voter suppression or obstacles may occur.
To register for this critical voter registration and enhancement webinar, please click here
Other steps you can take, no matter where you reside, is to prepare for long lines and delays at the polls. While in California all voters will be receiving “vote by mail” ballots, things still can go wrong, and support for those standing in line will be needed,
Bring cases of water, some food, folding chairs. Enlist your youth to hold line spots for voters needing bathroom breaks. Have masks available for anyone without one. Think about entertainment (socially distanced, of course). There will be spots in every state, even California, where things will not go smoothly. We need to anticipate those problems, be prepared to help voters vote.
The Rev Dr Rick Schlosser