Beyond the Podium: Everything you need to know about California's propositions
The midterm elections are today. That means there are only hours left to learn everything you need to know about all the issues that will appear on your ballot when you step inside the voting booth.
North Coast News has you covered there. Here's a rundown of each of the 11 state propositions that every California voter will see on their ballot today.
Proposition 1 authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans, farmworkers, manufactured and mobile homes, infill and transient-oriented housing. Those bonds would be repaid by increased states averaging about $170 million annually over the next 35 years.
Voting "yes" on Prop 1 means affordable housing for veterans, working families, seniors, people with disabilities and Californians experiencing homelessness as a result of the state's severe housing crisis. It will also not raise taxes if it passes.
The argument against the proposition, or a "no" vote, is that there are better approaches to the problem. It would authorize the state to borrow $4 billion by selling bonds for housing programs. Those against Prop 1 argue the housing shortage needs far bigger solutions than simply throwing money at it.
Proposition 2 authorizes bonds to fund an existing housing program for individuals with mental illnesses. If passed, it would amend the Mental Health Services Act to fund the No Place Like Home Program, which finances housing for those battling mental illness. Prop 2 would allow the state to use up to $140 million of county mental health funds per year to repay up to the $2 billion in bonds used to fund this housing program.
Those in favor of passing Prop 2 say that, just like Prop 1, it will not raise taxes. It will help people off the streets and into comprehensive mental health services and addiction treatment. Homeless advocates, social workers, doctors, and emergency responders say "yes" on Prop 2 is a good idea.
Those who are against passing Prop 2 say that taking up to $5.6 billion away from the severely mentally ill will only force more into homelessness, since treatment is not required to access the housing offered by the program. They also say Prop 2 in unnecessary because last year the legislature authorized county use of Mental Health Service Act funds for housing without the need to borrow money.
Proposition 3 deals with water supply, accessibility, and quality, along with other environmental projects. The measure proposes to authorize nearly $9 billion in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects related to water supply and quality, fish and wildlife, and groundwater sustainability and storage.
Passage of Prop 3 would increase state costs to repay bonds averaging $430 million per year over 40 years. However, those costs are estimated to help local governments save a couple hundred million dollars annually on water-related projects during that same 40-year stretch.
Voting "yes" on Prop 3 would authorize the state to fund these water and environmental projects by selling these bonds. The argument for passing the proposition is that it secures safe, reliable and clean water for California. More specifically, we're talking about clean drinking water, protection from droughts and repairs for unsafe dams, along with improved water quality in our oceans, bays and rivers, and the capture, treatment and reuse of stormwater.
Those who are against passing Prop 3 argue that while a lot of organizations that make water safer, cleaner and more accessible get a lot more money, none of it will help produce one drop of new, usable water. They also say this measure is expensive, since interest payments on the bonds will double the amount that has to be repaid to bond holders. Opponents of Prop 3 believe that cost will eventually fall on taxpayers to repay at some point down the road.
Another important point opponents raise is that since 1996, eight statewide bond measures committing money to water issues have been passed, totaling more than $29 billion. Despite that, they say California is still plagued by major water problems.
Proposition 4 deals with bonds funding construction at children's hospitals. If passed, the measure would authorize $1.5 billion in bonds to fund grants for construction, expansion and renovation of qualifying children's hospitals. These bonds would be repaid from the state's general fund, and increased state costs would would average about $80 million annually over the next 35 years.
Proponents of Prop 4 point out that children's hospitals provide specialized care for over 2 million sick children each year, no matter what families can pay. There are eight California not-for-profit children's hospitals and five more associated with University of California campuses. They say 85 percent of children with leukemia leave those hospitals cured.
Passing Prop 4 would increase the capacity of these hospitals, provide them with the latest technology and advance pediatric research to cure more children. The cost per patient comes out to less than $40 per patient per year.
Opponents of Prop 4 argue the measure doesn't speak to the bigger picture, which they say is improving healthcare outcomes in California. The state would borrow $1.5 billion for construction at non-profit children's hospitals by selling bonds that would need to be repaid with interest, which they believe would potentially come from higher property taxes. People against Prop 4 go on to argue that previous propositions passed within the state have created an unfair property tax system, shifting a large portion of that burden from businesses to homeowners.
Proposition 5 changes requirements for certain property owners to transfer their property tax base when they move. Those certain property owners are seniors over the age of 55, severely disabled homeowners and owners of contaminated or disaster-destroyed property.
Prop 5 would cost both schools and local governments about $100 million in annual property taxes early on and grow to about $1 billion per year. It would also cause a similar increase in state costs to make up for those school property tax loses.
Those in favor of passing Prop 5 say it eliminates the "moving penalty" that currently hurts seniors over the age of 55 and severely disabled Californians. Voting "yes" means these groups can purchase a new home and not face this property tax penalty, allowing them to move near family or purchase more practical, safer homes. It also protects retired Californians who live on fixed incomes, like a pension or social security, from huge increases in property taxes if they decide to move.
Those taking the side against Prop 5 say it doesn't build any new housing or help first-time homebuyers make a purchase, nor does it bring down rent costs or address homelessness. Opponents point out it does nothing to help fix California's terrible affordable housing crisis.
It could also allow homeowners above 55 to use the proposed tax break to keep buying more expensive houses, which in turn would raise housing prices for first-time homebuyers with less income. It will also cut up to $1 billion in local revenue from public schools, healthcare and fire and police departments to give tax breaks to wealthy Californians and corporate real estate interests.
Proposition 6 looks to eliminate certain road repair and transportation funding by repealing part of a 2017 transportation law. It would also require certain fuel taxes and vehicle fees be approved by the electorate.
Those in favor of passing Prop 6 say it will immediately lower gas prices. It will also repeal what they call the unfair regressive gas and car tax, which hits working families and the poor harder than the wealthy.
The measure will also require voter approval for any future increase on those taxes. Proponents of Prop 6 say those taxes can cost a family of four over $500 per year. They also point out that 72 percent of all state motor vehicle-related taxes and fees are used on programs unrelated to transportation and road maintenance.
Opponents of Prop 6 argue it jeopardizes the safety of bridges and roads. They say the $5 billion the measure eliminates per year in local transportation funding will put an end to 6,500 road safety, traffic relief and transit improvement projects currently underway in every California community.
Those against the proposition also point out California has more than 1,600 bridges and overpasses that are structurally deficient and unsafe, while 89 percent of California's counties have roads that are in "poor" or "at-risk" condition.
The California Professional Firefighters, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, American Society of Civil Engineers and first responders all support a "no" vote on Prop 6.
Proposition 7 deals with daylight saving time, seeking to allow the legislature to change the daylight saving time period if the change is then authorized by the federal government. The measure would give the legislature power to change it with a two-thirds vote.
It's important to emphasize passing this measure would only give the legislature the power to change the daylight saving time period. If the legislature chooses not to make a formal change, California would maintain its current daylight saving time period of early March through early November.
Those in favor of Prop 7 say that medical researchers and economists have found that the bi-annual time changes of turning your clock forwards and backwards one hour are hazardous to the health and productivity of schoolchildren, the workforce and seniors. They point to a 2016 study showing the stroke risks increase by roughly eight percent when the clocks shift due to disrupting sleep patterns. The study says those percentages increase to 25 and 20 percent for cancer patients and seniors over the age of 65, respectively.
Proponents of Prop 7 also point to money. They say research shows that changing our clocks twice a year increases electricity and fuel use by four percent in many parts of the world, coming with a price tag of $434 million.
Since 2000, 14 countries have abandoned daylight saving, and now 68 percent of countries worldwide do not participate.
Opponents of Prop 7 point out that if this measure is passed and the legislature decides to eliminate daylight saving, your summer evenings wouldn't change much. However, winter mornings would have an extra hour or darkness, causing many children to make their trips to school in the dark. They say that without daylight saving time, it will still be dark here in Eureka at 8 a.m. on New Year's Day, and the sun won't rise in Los Angeles until 7:30 a.m. from November to February.
Lastly, Prop 7 opponents point out that eliminating daylight saving time has actually been tried before, and it was a disaster. In 1974, an energy crisis led President Nixon to declare emergency full-time daylight saving time. It was supposed to last 16 months but stopped after 10 because so many people hated the fact that the sun rose too late in the mornings.
Proposition 8 regulates the amount outpatient kidney dialysis clinics charge for dialysis treatment and would require rebates and penalties if the amount charged exceeds the set limit. It also requires annual reporting to the state and prohibits clinics from refusing treatment based on a patient's payment source. If passed, it is estimated that the measure could have a net positive or negative impact in the tens of millions of dollars annually on state and local governments.
A "yes" vote on Prop 8 means kidney dialysis clinics would have their revenues limited by a formula and could be required to pay rebates to certain parties that pay for dialysis treatment. For the most part, that primarily affects health insurance companies.
Those in favor of Prop 8 say dialysis is a life-saving treatment, but many big dialysis corporations making huge profits don't invest enough in basic sanitation and patient care. Passing the measure would help ensure quality patient care and stop overcharging that drives up costs for Californians, since they say that the state's largest dialysis company marks up its charges by as much as 350 percent above actual costs. They say it could also lower healthcare costs for everyone, since dialysis treatment is so expensive, insurance companies often pass those costs on to policyholders.
The California Democratic Party, veterans, healthcare advocates and religious leaders all support "yes" on Prop 8.
Those against Prop 8 say passing the measure would cause many dialysis clinics in California to close, which would dangerously reduce access to care. Opponents say it severely limits what insurance companies are required to pay for dialysis care, and they point to an independent study conducted by California's former legislative analyst that found Prop 8 will result in 83 percent of dialysis clinics operating at a loss. They say it will put the lives of about 66,000 vulnerable dialysis patients at risk and increase costs for taxpayers, estimated to increase by nearly $300 million annually.
Voting "no" on Prop 8 is supported by thousands of nurses, doctors, and patients, as well as the American Nurses Association, California Medical Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians of California.
Proposition 9 was removed from the ballot by the Supreme Court of California. Prop 9 proposed to split California into three separate states with voters' approval.
Proposition 10 expands local governments' authority to enact rent control on residential property by repealing a state law that currently restricts the scope of rent control policies that cities can impose. Passing this measure could cut local revenues in the tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. But, depending on how local communities respond, revenue losses could be less or considerably more.
A vote "yes" on Prop 10 means state law would not limit the kinds of rent control laws cities and counties could enforce. Those in favor of passing Prop 10 say the measure will restore authority to local communities to establish rent control, placing fair, annual limits on the amount landlords can raise rent. This keeps tenants in their homes rather than being pushed far away or into homelessness.
Prop 10 proponents emphasize that passing the measure does not force any one-size-fits-all solutions on any city, nor does it force any community to adopt rent control policies that are not a good fit for its housing situation. Prop 10 allows communities struggling with fast-climbing housing costs to reach solutions that work best for them by giving them control over rent laws.
Groups supporting Prop 10 include the California Democratic Party, California Teachers Association, ACLU of California and the Eviction Defense Network, among many others.
Opponents argue that Prop 10 will make California's housing crisis worse, not better. Affordable housing advocates say the measure is bad for renters and homeowners because it allows regulation of single-family homes and puts bureaucrats in charge of housing by letting them add fees on top of rent. It would let the government control how much homeowners can charge to rent out their home, or even just a single room.
Those against Prop 10 say the measure would also put as many as 539 rental boards in charge of housing, giving them unlimited power to add fees on housing that would be passed on to tenants in the form of higher rent.
The Association of Realtors, Family Business Association of California and the California Chamber of Commerce are among the groups who support "no" on Prop 10.
Proposition 11 would make a law entitling hourly employees to breaks without being on-call not apply to private-sector ambulance employees. There would be a likely monetary benefit to local governments in the form of lower costs and higher revenues that could potentially be in the tens of millions of dollars each year.
Voting "yes" on Prop 11 means private ambulance would be subject to industry labor laws and require them to supply their EMT's with off-duty meal and rest breaks.
Those in favor of passing it say that EMTs and paramedics are paid to be reachable during breaks to save lives, giving them better disaster training that meets FEMA standards and mandatory health coverage. They say that in an emergency, seconds are the difference between life and death.
If Prop 11 is not passed, it could mean that the closest ambulance to your emergency would have their communications devices turned off during their breaks, potentially increasing response times. Prop 11 also requires that emergency medical crews are paid to receive that additional training for violence prevention, active shooter, mass casualty and natural disaster incidents.
Those opposing Prop 11 argue that the work first repsonders to takes both a mental and physical toll, making meal and rest breaks particularly important. The United Steel Workers Rapid Response (USWRR) says stripping them of guaranteed rest and meal breaks does nothing to improve public safety, and in fact, makes their jobs even more difficult. They also argue the measure sets a precedent that could be used to take away meal and rest breaks from other workers in the future.
USWRR also points out that Prop 11 is funded by American Medical Response (AMR), and if the measure passes, they claim AMR will be released from their obligation to pay penalties for pending and future lawsuits for their employees' meal and rest break violations.
Proposition 12 establishes new standards for confinement of specific farm animals, and it bans the sale of any products that do not comply with those standards. This refers primarily to meat and egg products from animals caged in a noncompliant manner.
Passing the measure could result in a decrease in state income tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not to be more than several million dollars annually. It would also cost the state up to ten million dollars every year to enforce.
Voting "yes" on Prop 12 means there would be new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal.
Those in favor of the measure say it eases animal cruelty by making it illegal to cram these animals in tiny cages for their entire lives. Most of them cannot move in these spaces and have to defecate where they sleep from anywhere from four months to four years. They also say that products from suffering animals are less safe, as scientific studies have shown that packing animals in tiny, dirty cages increases the risk of food poisoning in the products they produce.
Proponents of Prop 12 also say passing the measure would create jobs because cage-free farms employ more workers.
Opponents of Prop 12 say the measure is a sell-out to the egg industry and betrays both animals and voters. They say Californians already voted to ban cages in 2015, and Prop 12 legalizes cages until 2022 where hens get only one square foot of space, with language to allow the legislature to make changes to the law at any time without the consent of voters.
Those against Prop 12 claim the measure is a deceptive ploy by the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers to replace current industry regulations with those preferred by the United Egg Producers. They say the measure makes false promises just like previous state propositions dealing with this matter.