California propositions: A voter's guide to the 2020 ballot measures

There are 12 props on the California ballot. Here's everything you need to know before voting.
SAN FRANCISCO -- On (or before!) Nov. 3, 2020, you won't just be casting your vote for president. In California, there are 12 ballot propositions that voters will be asked to consider.

But many of the ballot measures are dense and, at times, confusing. To help you sort out where you stand, we've put together an interactive guide to the 2020 propositions in California.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full guide in a new window


The ballot language for each proposition is available from the Secretary of State's office. You can use the interactive module above or continue reading below for our summaries of each measure, the argument for and against it, and a short list of supporters and opponents.

Proposition 14: Funding for stem cell research


Summary: Authorizes $5.5 billion in general bonds to go to stem cell research, including research on treating Alzheimer's and dementia.
Argument for: Universities, nonprofits and other research groups need more funding to continue this vital medical research. The $3 billion in funding provided by Prop 71 in 2004 has been depleted.
Argument against: There isn't enough oversight on how the money will be spent.
Supporters: California Democratic Party, UC Board of Regents, several medical institutions, among others.
Opponents: The nonprofit Center for Genetics and Society

VIDEO: What is Prop. 14? California voters will be asked to continue funding stem cell research
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The November election is fast approaching and one of the issues voters will be faced with is whether to continue to fund stem cell research.



Proposition 15: Increase commercial property taxes for education funding


Summary: Amends the constitution to allow commercial and industrial properties to be taxed at their market value rather than their purchase price. There are exceptions for properties zoned as commercial agriculture and companies valued under $3 million. This proposition would revise 1978's Prop 13, which requires all California properties (residential and commercial) to be taxed at their purchase price with an annual increase of 2% or inflation, whichever is lower. Of the new tax revenue, an estimated $8 billion to $12.5 billion a year, 60% would go to local governments and 40% to school districts and community colleges. Residential properties (i.e. homes) are not affected by this proposition.
Argument for: California companies like Chevron and Disneyland sit on extremely valuable property, make lots of money and don't pay taxes on their land's market value. Plus, schools desperately need the funding.
Argument against: The massive tax increase will prompt companies to flee California at a time when businesses are already struggling.
Supporters: Dozens of Democratic lawmakers, several CA school districts, California Teachers Association.
Opponents: Several local chambers of commerce, Ted Gaines (Republican on the CA Board of Equalization), and several local branches of the NAACP.

VIDEO: What is Prop 15? Voters to decide property tax hike on big business
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For decades, California property tax laws have remained the same, but Proposition 15 on the Nov. 3 ballot could change that.



Proposition 16: Repeal Prop 209 to allow affirmative action


Summary: Repeals 1996's Proposition 209, which banned the government and public institutions (like schools) from discriminating or giving preferential treatment based on sex, race, ethnicity or nationality. Prop 209 effectively banned public employers, universities and the like from using affirmative action, as it was seen as discriminatory.
Argument for: Repealing the constitutional amendment would allow California's public institutions to work toward greater diversity. Plus, federal law preventing discrimination still stands.
Argument against: Discrimination is bad even whether it benefits historically underprivileged groups or not.
Supporters: Dozens of California Democrats, including Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as teachers' unions and the UC Board of Regents.
Opponents: Two Republican state senators and a handful of former Republican U.S. representatives, including Darrell Issa.

VIDEO: What is Prop. 16? Here's how it will impact affirmative action in California
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What is Prop. 16? Here's a breakdown of what you need to know about how it impacts affirmative action in California.



Proposition 17: Allows parolees the right to vote


Summary: Amends the constitution to allow those on parole for a felony conviction to vote in elections. Current California law prevents people from voting if they're imprisoned or on parole for a felony crime. Prop 17 only amends the latter half of that law.
Argument for: The change would restore voting rights to a disenfranchised group of people that have fully completed their prison sentences and are reintegrating into society.
Argument against: People on parole are still being closely monitored and haven't had their full rights to freedom restored; voting should fall under that category.
Supporters: Several prominent California Democrats, the ACLU and League of Women Voters.
Opponents: California State Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Red Bluff).

What is Prop. 17? Voters asked to restore right to vote for parolees after completion of prison term
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A convicted felon who's on parole cannot vote in California, but Proposition 17 is asking voters if parolees should have the right to vote.



Proposition 18: Grant some 17-year-olds right to vote in primaries


Summary: Would amend the state constitution to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in primary or special elections that precede them.
Argument for: Young people who are legally allowed to participate in general elections should be able to participate in that full electoral cycle.
Argument against: Seventeen year olds are legally children and therefore too young to vote.
Supporters: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, plus it had majority Democrat support when it started as an amendment in the Assembly.
Opponents: When it was being considered in the Assembly, the opposition was largely Republican.

Proposition 19: Changes certain property tax rules


Summary: Changes some of the tax assessment rules on property transfers by homeowners 55 or older or those who have lost a home in a natural disaster. Those homeowners would be able to transfer their tax assessment to a more expensive home three times (instead of the currently allowed one time) with an upward adjustment. It would also eliminate one exemption that exists when someone transfers a home to a child or a grandchild; if the recipient doesn't use the home as their primary residence, its tax value would be reassessed under Prop 19. The resulting revenue would go to establishing a Fire Response Fund.
Argument for: Empty nesters aren't putting homes on the market to downsize because they fear paying higher taxes on a new house. It also closes a loophole that allows wealthy people to pass on homes to children who use them as rental properties.
Argument against: The proposition, largely backed by real estate special interests, eliminates one loophole, but it creates a bigger problem by allowing wealthy homeowners to continue reaping the benefits of Prop 13 from 1978, writes the Mercury News/East Bay Times editorial board. Plus, revenue from property taxes shouldn't be automatically earmarked for fire suppression.
Supporters: California Association of Realtors
Opponents: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, newspaper editorial boards including San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Times and Orange County Register.

Proposition 20: Reclassifies certain crimes and expands DNA collection


Summary: Makes it so firearm theft, vehicle theft and unlawful use of a credit card are classified as "wobblers," meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Prop 20 also establishes two new crimes in the code, serial crime and retail organized crime, also both wobblers. The proposition also expands mandatory DNA collection to those convicted of certain misdemeanors.
Argument for: The proposition gives prosecutors the discretion to pursue harsher sentences in retail crimes.
Argument against: The change in crime classification would lead to over-sentencing of nonviolent crimes and contribute to overcrowding in prisons.
Supporters: Two assembly members, a Democrat and a Republican, a few law enforcement unions and the Albertsons Safeway grocery chain.
Opponents: Former Gov. Jerry Brown and the ACLU of Northern California.

Here's how Prop. 20 will affect criminal justice in California
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One of the measures that will be put before California voters in November would reclassify some misdemeanor crimes as felonies and take a stronger stance on parole.



Proposition 21: Rent control overhaul


Summary: Allows local jurisdictions to put rent control in place for all kinds of housing, including single family homes, condos and townhomes. There are two exceptions: if the home or building is newer (first occupied in the past 15 years) and if the landlord only owns up to two properties. This proposition would replace the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995. Under Costa-Hawkins, landlords can raise rents after a tenant moves out, but Prop 21 would put a limit on how much they can raise the rent of a vacated unit to 15% over three years.
Argument for: Renters need more protections in California's expensive housing market and the proposition would allow local governments the ability to expand more of those protections.
Argument against: More rent control could worsen the housing crisis by reducing private builders' profit incentive to build more housing.
Supporters: The California Democratic Party, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation who has funded rent control campaigns in the past.
Opponents: Several trade unions, real estate groups, veterans groups and more.

Proposition 22: Classifies rideshare and delivery drivers as contract workers


Summary: Establishes app-based drivers - including Uber and Lyft rideshare drivers and food delivery drivers like DoorDash, Instacart, etc. - as contract workers instead of employees and establishes labor laws specific to this kind of job. The new wage and labor rules would include a minimum wage floor while online and working, healthcare subsidies for frequent drivers and accident insurance. This would exempt gig worker drivers from Assembly Bill 5 (or AB5).
Argument for: Classifying drivers as employees, as is law under AB5, would make these services more expensive and companies wouldn't be able to offer as many positions, meaning fewer gig jobs and less flexibility for drivers.
Argument against: The companies are trying to use the ballot proposition to avoid paying drivers hourly wages and offering them benefits they are entitled to under current California law.
Supporters: Companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart, as well as several chambers of commerce organizations.
Opponents: Prominent Democrats like Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Speaker of the State Assembly Anthony Rendon; several labor organizations.

Proposition 23: Dialysis clinic requirements


Summary: Requires dialysis clinics to have at least one physician present while patients are being treated (except where there's a shortage), to report patient infection data to the state and to get consent from the state before closing. The measure also bans clinics from discriminating on the basis of who is paying for a patient's care.
Argument for: The increased regulations will make clinics safer for patients and make sure patients with any insurance will be treated equally.
Argument against: The increased regulations would make care more costly for and less available to patients.
Supporters: SEIU healthcare workers union
Opponents: For-profit dialysis clinics like DaVita and Fresenius and the California Medical Association.

Proposition 24: Consumer data privacy protections


Summary: Modifies the California Consumer Privacy Act to force companies to honor consumers' requests that their data not be shared and to get permission before collecting data on teens and children. It also would let consumers opt out of personal information being used for marketing and request incorrect information about them be corrected. The proposition would establish a new agency to oversee consumers' data privacy.
Argument for: The law would give people with privacy concerns more control over where and how their data is used.
Argument against: The long and wonky ballot initiative contains several loopholes and provisions that actually weaken consumer protections (in some cases) compared to existing California law. It also gives large corporations an advantage over individuals with fewer financial and legal assets.
Supporters: Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer, put forward the ballot initiative and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is listed as a supporter.
Opponents: The ACLU of California and Consumer Federation of California.

Proposition 25: Eliminate the cash bail system, or go back to it


Summary: Senate Bill 10 eliminated the cash bail system in California and replaced it with an algorithmic risk assessment method that determines who gets released from jail while awaiting trial based on risk to society instead of ability to post bond. This is a referendum on that law, a process in California that allows the people to essentially veto or uphold a law by putting it on the ballot. A yes vote upholds SB 10, while a no vote repeals it.
Argument for: SB 10 creates a system that is fairer to everyone accused of crimes and the bail bonds businesses is only putting the issue on the ballot to try and continue profiting off the cash bail system.
Argument against: The new risk assessment system is also flawed as it still leaves room for racial bias, so it is not a good replacement for California's longstanding cash bail system.
Supporters: Dozens of California Democratic lawmakers, the California Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters.
Opponents: The American Bail Coalition,several chambers of commerce and Human Rights Watch.
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