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Selected Highlights from California’s Constitution, Part V

The California Constitution is one of the longest of all fifty states

By Chris Micheli, July 22, 2019 2:13 am

The California Constitution, one of the longest of the fifty states, has 32 articles (even though the last one is numbered 35), and three articles contain subparts (Articles 10, 13 and 19). There are approximately 365 sections contained in those articles. The following is an overview of the specific provisions of the state constitution.

Part IV is HERE with Articles XII – XIII

Part lll is HERE with Articles lX – Xl

Part ll is HERE with Articles lV – Vll

Part l is HERE with Articles l – lll


Article 14, dealing with labor relations, was added to the California Constitution by Proposition 14 on the June 8, 1976 ballot. This article contains the following five sections:

Section 1 states that the Legislature may provide for minimum wages and for the general welfare of employees and for those purposes may confer on a commission legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

Section 2 provides that worktime of mechanics or workers on public works may not exceed eight hours a day except in wartime or extraordinary emergencies that endanger life or property and that the Legislature provides for enforcement of this section.  

Section 3 specifies that mechanics, persons furnishing materials, artisans, and laborers of every class, have a lien upon the property upon which they have bestowed labor or furnished material for the value of the labor done and materials furnished, and that the Legislature provide by law for the speedy and efficient enforcement of these liens.  

Section 4 establishes that the Legislature is expressly vested with plenary power, unlimited by any provision of this Constitution, to create and enforce a complete system of workers’ compensation, by appropriate legislation, and to create and enforce a liability on the part of any or all persons to compensate any or all of their workers for injury or disability, and their dependents for death incurred or sustained by those workers in the course of their employment, irrespective of the fault of any party.   

Section 5 states that the Director of Corrections or any county Sheriff or other local government official charged with jail operations may enter into contracts with public entities, nonprofit or for-profit organizations, entities, or businesses for the purpose of conducting programs which use inmate labor.


Article 15, dealing with usury, was added to the State Constitution by Proposition 14 on the June 8, 1976 ballot. It contains one, lengthy section as follows:

Section 1 provides that the rate of interest upon the loan or forbearance of any money, goods, or things in action, or on accounts after demand, is 7 percent annually, but it shall be competent for the parties to any loan or forbearance of any money, goods or things in action to contract in writing for a rate of interest: as specified in this section.


Article 16 was added by Proposition 8 on the November 5, 1974 ballot. This article contains the following 23 sections:  

Section 1 – The Legislature shall not, in any manner create any debt or debts, liability or liabilities, which shall, singly or in the aggregate with any previous debts or liabilities, exceed the sum of three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000), except in case of war to repel invasion or suppress insurrection, unless the same shall be authorized by law for some single object or work to be distinctly specified therein which law shall provide ways and means, exclusive of loans, for the payment of the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due..  

Section 1.3 – A “single object or work,” for which the Legislature may create a debt or liability in excess of three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) subject to the requirements set forth in Section 1, includes the funding of an accumulated state budget deficit to the extent, and in the amount, that funding is authorized in a measure submitted to the voters at the March 2, 2004, statewide primary election.  

Section 1.5 – The Legislature may create and establish a “General Obligation Bond Proceeds Fund” in the State Treasury, and may provide for the proceeds of the sale of general obligation bonds of the State heretofore or hereafter issued, including any sums paid as accrued interest thereon, under any or all acts authorizing the issuance of such bonds, to be paid into or transferred to, as the case may be, the “General Obligation Bond Proceeds Fund.”  

Section 2 – No amendment to this Constitution which provides for the preparation, issuance and sale of bonds of the State of California shall hereafter be submitted to the electors, nor shall any such amendment to the Constitution hereafter submitted to or approved by the electors become effective for any purpose.   

Section 3 – No money shall ever be appropriated or drawn from the State Treasury for the purpose or benefit of any corporation, association, asylum, hospital, or any other institution not under the exclusive management and control of the State as a state institution, nor shall any grant or donation of property ever be made thereto by the State.   

Section 3.5 – No statute amending or adding to the provisions of the Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Improvement Act of 2013 shall become effective unless approved by the electors in the same manner as statutes amending initiative statutes pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 10 of Article II, except that the Legislature may, by statute passed in each house by roll call vote entered into the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, amend or add provisions that further the purposes of the act.  

Section 4 – The Legislature shall have the power to insure or guarantee loans made by private or public lenders to nonprofit corporations and public agencies, the proceeds of which are to be used for the construction, expansion, enlargement, improvement, renovation or repair of any public or nonprofit hospital, hospital facility, or extended care facility, facility for the treatment of mental illness, or all of them, including any outpatient facility and any other facility useful and convenient in the operation of the hospital and any original equipment for any such hospital or facility, or both.  

Section 5 – Neither the Legislature, nor any county, city and county, township, school district, or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation, or pay from any public fund whatever, or grant anything to or in aid of any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose, or help to support or sustain any school, college, university, hospital, or other institution controlled by any religious creed, church, or sectarian denomination whatever.  

Section 6 – The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending, of the credit of the State, or of any county, city and county, city, township or other political corporation or subdivision of the State now existing, or that may be hereafter established, in aid of or to any person, association, or corporation, whether municipal or otherwise, or to pledge the credit thereof.  

Section 7 – Money may be drawn from the Treasury only through an appropriation made by law and upon a Controller’s duly drawn warrant.  

Section 8 – From all state revenues there shall first be set apart the moneys to be applied by the State for support of the public-school system and public institutions of higher education.  

Section 8.5 – In addition to the amount required to be applied for the support of school districts and community college districts pursuant to Section 8, the Controller shall during each fiscal year transfer and allocate all revenues available.  

Section 9 – Money collected under any state law relating to the protection or propagation of fish and game shall be used for activities relating thereto.  

Section 10 – Whenever the United States government or any officer or agency thereof shall provide pensions or other aid for the aged, co-operation by the State therewith and therein is hereby authorized in such manner and to such extent as may be provided by law.  

Section 11 – The Legislature has plenary power to provide for the administration of any constitutional provisions or laws enacted concerning the administration of relief, and to that end may modify, transfer, or enlarge the powers vested in any state agency or officer concerned with the administration of relief or laws appertaining thereto.  

Section 13 – Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the Legislature shall have power to release, rescind, cancel, or otherwise nullify in whole or in part any encumbrance on property, personal obligation, or other form of security heretofore or hereafter exacted or imposed by the Legislature to secure the repayment to, or reimbursement of, the State, and the counties or other agencies of the state government, of aid lawfully granted to and received by aged persons.  

Section 14 – The Legislature may provide for the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the acquisition, construction, and installation of environmental pollution control facilities, including the acquisition of all technological facilities necessary or convenient for pollution control, and for the lease or sale of such facilities to persons, associations, or corporations, other than municipal corporations.  

Section 14.5 – The Legislature may provide for the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the acquisition, construction, and installation of facilities utilizing cogeneration technology, solar power, biomass, or any other alternative source the Legislature may deem appropriate, including the acquisition of all technological facilities necessary or convenient for the use of alternative sources.  

Section 15 – A public body authorized to issue securities to provide public parking facilities and any other public body whose territorial area includes such facilities are authorized to make revenues from street parking meters available as additional security.  

Section 16 – All property in a redevelopment project established under the Community Redevelopment Law as now existing or hereafter amended, except publicly owned property not subject to taxation by reason of that ownership, shall be taxed in proportion to its value as provided in Section 1 of this article, and those taxes (the word “taxes” as used herein includes, but is not limited to, all levies on an ad valorem basis upon land or real property) shall be levied and collected as other taxes are levied and collected by the respective taxing agencies.  

Section 17 – The State shall not in any manner loan its credit, nor shall it subscribe to, or be interested in the stock of any company, association, or corporation, except that the State and each political subdivision, district, municipality, and public agency thereof is hereby authorized to acquire and hold shares of the capital stock of any mutual water company or corporation when the stock is so acquired or held for the purpose of furnishing a supply of water for public, municipal or governmental purposes.  

Section 18 – No county, city, town, township, board of education, or school district, shall incur any indebtedness or liability in any manner or for any purpose exceeding in any year the income and revenue provided for such year, without the assent of two-thirds of the voters of the public entity voting at an election to be held for that purpose.   

Section 19 – All proceedings undertaken by any chartered city, or by any chartered county or by any chartered city and county for the construction of any public improvement, or the acquisition of any property for public use, or both, where the cost thereof is to be paid in whole or in part by special assessment or other special assessment taxes upon property, whether the special assessment will be specific or a special assessment tax upon property wholly or partially according to the assessed value of such property, shall be undertaken only in accordance with the provisions of law governing.  

Section 20 – The Budget Stabilization Account is hereby created in the General Fund.

Section 21 – The Public School System Stabilization Account is hereby created in the General Fund.  

Section 22 – Upon the Governor’s proclamation declaring a budget emergency and identifying the conditions constituting the emergency, the Legislature may pass a bill that does any of the following: Suspends or reduces by a specified dollar amount for one fiscal year the transfer of moneys from the General Fund to the Budget Stabilization Account required by Section 20.   

Section 23 – The tax imposed by the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 and the revenue derived therefrom, including investment interest, shall not be considered General Fund revenues for purposes of Section 8 and its implementing statutes, and shall not be considered “General Fund revenues,” “state revenues,” or “General Fund proceeds of taxes” for purposes its implementing statutes.


Article 18, dealing with amending and revising the constitution, was added to the California Constitution by Proposition 6 on the November 3, 1970 ballot. It contains four sections.

Section 1 – The Legislature by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may propose an amendment or revision of the Constitution and in the same manner may amend or withdraw its proposal.  

Section 2 – The Legislature by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may submit at a general election the question whether to call a convention to revise the Constitution. If the majority vote yes on that question, within 6 months the Legislature shall provide for the convention.  

Section 3 – The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative.

Section 4 – A proposed amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electors and, if approved by a majority of votes cast thereon, takes effect on the fifth day after the Secretary of State files the statement of the vote for the election at which the measure is voted on, but the measure may provide that it becomes operative after its effective date.

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