California voters will weigh in on seven ballot measures this fall, the fewest to appear on a statewide general election ballot since 2014.
Thursday was the deadline to qualify measures for the November ballot. Secretary of State Shirley Weber confirmed that seven questions will appear in November. Six are ballot initiatives that supporters gathered enough signatures to place before voters and one was placed on the ballot by the state Legislature.
Two other initiatives that had qualified were withdrawn after state lawmakers worked out a compromise and passed legislation before the deadline. Lawmakers also rejected a possible question about whether to remove involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime from the state constitution.
This year’s ballot measures ask voters to weigh in on a variety of issues, including abortion, sports betting and school funding.
This question placed on the ballot by the state Legislature asks voters to amend the state constitution to guarantee a right to an abortion and contraceptives. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, letting states decide whether to allow abortions. California is run by Democrats who support abortion rights, so the laws here won’t change anytime soon. But California’s right to an abortion is based on a right to privacy in the state constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade found the right to privacy does not guarantee the right to an abortion, concerning supporters that the state’s abortion laws could be vulnerable in state courts. This amendment, known as Proposition 1, would leave no doubt that abortion is legal in California.
Two ballot initiatives would amend California’s constitution to make it legal to bet on sports in California. But they would do it in different ways. Both would only allow federally recognized Native American tribes to run sports wagering operations. The key question is how people would be allowed to place bets.
One initiative, Proposition 26, would let people bet on sports at privately operated horse racing tracks on Native American land in four counties. A portion of a 10% tax would help pay for enforcement of gambling laws and programs to help people who are addicted. This measure is supported by some Native American tribes.
Another measure, Proposition 27, would let people use their phones to place bets on sports. A tax would first pay for regulatory costs, while 85% of what’s left over would go to homelessness programs while the remaining 15% would go to nonparticipating Native American tribes. This measure is supported by some sports betting companies.
Proposition 27 specifically includes language that says voters declare the two measures do not conflict, and that if both pass they both can become law.
However, if both pass there would likely be litigation to settle the matter.
Arts, music in public schools
This initiative, Proposition 28, would require lawmakers to use 1% of all state funding for public schools for music and arts education programs. That would be between $800 million and $1 billion each year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. For schools with 500 or more students, at least 80% of the money must be spent to employ teachers while the rest could be used for training, supplies and education partnerships. The initiative was placed on the ballot by the group Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools.
Raise taxes on the wealthy
This measure, Proposition 30, would raise taxes on rich people and use the money for wildfire prevention programs and incentives to help people buy electric cars to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative, funded by a coalition of rideshare companies, labor and environmental groups; would raise taxes by 1.75% on people who have at least $2 million in personal income per year. That would bring in between $3 billion and $4.5 billion in new revenue each year. Of that money, 45% would go to rebates and other incentives for purchasing electric cars, 35% would be for charging stations and 20% would be for wildfire prevention programs, with an emphasis on hiring and training firefighters.
This initiative, Proposition 31, asks voters whether a 2020 law that outlawed the sale of certain flavored tobacco products in California should take effect or be overturned. When the state Legislature passes a law, voters have the power to stop it from ever taking effect if they can gather enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. That’s what tobacco companies did after lawmakers passed a law in 2020 to outlaw certain flavored tobacco products, arguing the products were designed to appeal to children. The law was delayed until voters could decide in November.
This measure, Proposition 29, would require a doctor, nurse practitioner or physicians’ assistant to be present during treatment at an outpatient kidney dialysis clinic. This will be the third consecutive general election where voters have been asked this question. The two previous measures failed. This measure is backed again by labor unions who represent health care workers. And again, kidney dialysis companies are opposing it. Some have suggested the subtext of these ballot initiatives reflects a broader battle of labor unions attempting to organize workers at the state’s more than 600 kidney dialysis clinics.
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