2024 California propositions voter guide: minimum wage, crime, marriage, healthcare, rent and more

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In addition to a precarious presidential election and high-stakes U.S House races, California voters in November will also weigh in on a slew of statewide initiatives that could significantly shape policy and affect the lives of millions of residents.

Ten measures will be on the ballot and will ask voters if they support raising the minimum wage, cracking down on crime, banning forced prison labor, capping rent and much more.

Golden State voters are accustomed to legislating by the ballot and are often faced with a list of initiatives as part of the state’s direct democracy process. But this year especially, political parties are hopeful that some of the causes will help draw voters to the polls to check other boxes, too, said Mindy Romero, founder of the Center for Inclusive Democracy, a nonpartisan research organization focused on elections.

“Sometimes there are people who are not interested in the top ticket that may solely come out because of their cause,” said Romero, who is a political sociology professor at USC.

Altogether, campaigns supporting and opposing the ballot measures have collected tens of millions of dollars in contributions.

The number of initiatives put to voters could have been much higher, but a flurry of last-minute negotiations in the state capitol led to measure proponents agreeing to pull their proposals in favor of legislation, including a move to make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement. The remarkable round of deal making comes as state leaders have fought to tackle a massive budget deficit and worry about bogging down voters with a crowded ballot.

Here are the initiatives voters will officially see on their ballot in November:

Proposition 2

This bond measure would authorize the state to borrow $10 billion to modernize K-12 schools and community colleges.

The funding could be used to repair outdated school buildings and to upgrade libraries, heating and cooling systems and broadband internet.

Proposition 3

This measure would remove outdated language in the state Constitution that still defines marriage as between a man and woman and instead replace it with a broad “right to marry.”

While the constitutional clause is unenforceable, and same-sex marriage remains federally protected, proponents of the measure say it’s a necessary precaution in case of potential rulings from a conservative Supreme Court majority former President Trump helped appoint.

Proposition 4

This bond measure would authorize the state to borrow $10 billion to help fund the response to climate-related disasters such as drought, flooding and extreme heat. It would also help to ensure clean drinking water.

If approved by voters, it will be the largest investment in combating climate change in California history.

Proposition 5

This measure would make it easier for local governments to approve bonds and tax measures that fund affordable housing and some public infrastructure.

Proposition 5 would lower the required vote threshold to approve those measures from a two-thirds supermajority to 55%.

Proposition 6

This measure would ban involuntary servitude and end mandatory work requirements for state prisoners.

The proposed constitutional amendment is part of a reparations package for descendants of African Americans enslaved in the U.S.

Proposition 32

This measure would increase California’s hourly minimum wage from $16 to $18 and annually adjust it for inflation.

The proposal comes after the state’s politically powerful unions secured $25 an hour for healthcare workers and $20 an hour for fast-food workers and as cities including West Hollywood have moved ahead of the state minimum to as much as $19.08 an hour.

Proposition 33

This measure would allow cities and counties to enact rent control.

Proposition 33 would repeal a 1995 law called the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which generally prohibits local governments from limiting rental rates as issued by landlords.

Proposition 34

This measure would require that healthcare providers spend most of the revenue they get from federal prescription drug discount programs on direct patient care.

It would apply only to a very specific subset of doctors who have spent more than $100 million over a decade on “anything other than direct patient care.”

Proposition 35

This measure would provide permanent funding for Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, which pays for health services for low-income residents.

Right now, a tax on managed health insurance plans that funds the program is set to expire in 2026.

Proposition 36

This measure, backed by law enforcement agencies, would impose harsher sentences for drug possession and retail theft. It would turn some crimes involving fentanyl and repeated shoplifting that are currently misdemeanors into felonies.

Proposition 36 aims to roll back parts of Proposition 47, which a decade ago recategorized some low-level offenses.

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