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Four 2020 ballot propositions explained

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With only two weeks left until the election, it is essential that voters are informed of the most critical and impactful propositions on the California ballot. Every single proposition on the ballot will have lasting impacts on citizens across the state, and being correctly informed is key to voting on these issues.

• Proposition 15, known as the Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative, would require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price. This increased tax would only apply to commercial properties worth more than $3 million dollars. 

Proposition 15 would bring anywhere from $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion in new funding to local governments and schools per year. Most importantly, however, it would start to unravel the tax cap that Proposition 13 has put on commercial properties since it passed in 1978. According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, market values in California tend to increase faster than 2 percent a year, yet Proposition 13 limits commercial property tax to no more than 1 percent of the purchase price.

Large companies such as Disneyland and Intel have been paying commercial property taxes based on a purchase value that goes as back as 1976. This means that the amount of taxes they should be paying is distinctively greater than what they are paying now. It is essential to vote yes on Proposition 15 to ensure big corporations which can afford pay their fair share of property taxes do so, and not stand behind outdated tax laws that selfishly benefit them.

• Proposition 17 is another extremely influential proposition on this year’s ballot. This proposition would restore voting rights to parolees before fully completing their parole sentence in California. 

The parole system is implemented in order to help prisoners transition back into society. Parolees have to pay taxes, care for their families and find a stable job. Despite all of this, California is one of only three states that requires a prisoner to complete their parole sentence before gaining back the right to vote.

These individuals already served their time in prison and earned parole. Their humanity and, most importantly their fundamental right to vote, should not be stripped away after serving their time. By voting yes and restoring the right to vote for these individuals, they can become more engaged in their communities and actually have a say in the laws that govern them.

• Proposition 22 would exclude drivers for app based companies – like Uber, Lyft, Postmates and more – from requirements that they be treated as full employees. This would let the companies to classify these drivers as independent contractors, allowing them to skirt basic state employment requirements, such as providing minimum wage and health insurance protections.

Supporters of Proposition 22 say it would give independent drivers an hourly minimum wage that is 120% higher than California’s current minimum wage, according to CalMatters. At first glance, this seems like a benefit, but drivers would only be paid for time actually driving, not the time between gigs. That means that in practice, drivers would only expect a $5.64 hourly wage for their time, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center. 

Some drivers would also be given a health insurance stipend that can be used to purchase their own insurance and medical and disability benefits – but only if a driver is injured during a gig. Despite these additional benefits, the gig workers would not have the usual state law protections, including social security, normal reimbursements for the cost of working, overtime pay and the right to organize and unionize. 

The writers of the proposition also snuck in a clause requiring an unheard of seven-eighths supermajority of the legislature to make any amendments to the proposition. If passed, this sets a dangerous precedent of companies being allowed to buy laws for their own benefit that strip workers’ rights and are legally immune to government oversight.

The Proposition 22 campaign made history by being the most expensive initiative campaign in U.S. history, with large companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, InstaCart and Postmates donating a combined $184.3 million, according to Ballotpedia.

Vote no on Proposition 22 to protect large companies from buying laws and to protect drivers’ rights.

• Proposition 23 will require kidney dialysis clinics to have a minimum of one physician present during all operating hours, and to report unsafe health conditions to the state. It also calls for operators to get approval from the state’s health department before closing a clinic, and prohibits clinics from discriminating against patients based on insurance type. It ensures clean, healthy clinics and that every patient will get equal treatment. 

According to Calmatters, kidney failure is a growing health concern in California. Over 80,000 Californians depend on dialysis treatment and this is a step in the right direction to give people access to affordable health care, and keeping the people safe.

Knowledge is the key to voting on propositions in this year’s ballot. Human rights, health care, tax increases and workers’ rights are only some of the issues that this year’s ballot addresses. So go out and vote!

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