California voters are getting used to making state policy via the ballot initiative, due to having such a dysfunctional Legislature.
Each election, there are many initiatives on the state and local ballots. What are Californians looking at for the November 2022 ballot so far?
These are the hot, controversial, imperative, and frivolous initiatives currently collecting signatures, listed with the Attorney General’s ballot title (in all caps) and a partial summary:
Another plastic recycling initiative.
REQUIRES STATE REGULATIONS TO REDUCE PLASTIC WASTE, TAX PRODUCERS OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS, AND FUND RECYCLING AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires CalRecycle to adopt regulations reducing plastic waste, including to: (1) require that single-use plastic packaging, containers, and utensils be reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and to reduce such waste by 25%, by 2030; (2) prohibit polystyrene container use by food vendors; and (3) tax producers of single-use plastic packaging, containers, or utensils by January 1, 2022, and allocate revenues for recycling and environmental programs, including local water supply protection.
Expands sports gambling in California on tribal lands.
AUTHORIZES NEW TYPES OF GAMBLING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY AMENDMENT. Allows federally recognized Native American tribes to operate roulette, dice games, and sports wagering on tribal lands, subject to compacts negotiated by the Governor and ratified by the Legislature. Beginning in 2022, allows on-site sports wagering at only privately operated horse-racing tracks in four specified counties (does not list which four counties).
Imposes 10% tax on sports-wagering profits at horse-racing tracks.
An initiative to limit local officials’ authority and response to public health emergencies. This is big.
LIMITS STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS’ AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Prohibits state and local officials from issuing enforceable orders, regulations, or ordinances to address public health emergencies (resulting from epidemics, infectious disease outbreaks, and similar conditions), or otherwise taking any actions in response to health emergencies that directly affect the operation of private businesses or public facilities (including beaches and parks), or that limit the exercise of individual liberties. Continues to permit state and local officials to issue public health advisories or public service announcements during public health emergencies.
Another proposed mandate for K-12 public schools requires “Earth Sustainability training.” Hmmm.
EDUCATION. REQUIRES EARTH SUSTAINABILITY TRAINING IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires public school students and teachers to receive thirty hours of education, training, and hands-on learning relating to sustainability or the care of the Earth, every two years.
A bill passed by the California Legislature creates The California Abolition Act, which “seeks to abolish forced labor and involuntary servitude unconditionally in the state of California.”
PROHIBITS INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Amends California Constitution to prohibit involuntary servitude in all instances, by removing the current exception that allows involuntary servitude to punish crime. For example, requiring inmates to work without pay would not be permitted.
Another attempt to decriminalize a hallucinogen drug. This won’t end well.
DECRIMINALIZES PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. For individuals 21 and over, decriminalizes under state law the cultivation, manufacture, processing, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, and retail sale of psilocybin mushrooms, the hallucinogenic chemical compounds contained in them, and edible products and extracts derived from psilocybin mushrooms.
School choice initiative would provide vouchers to follow students.
REQUIRES STATE FUNDING OF RELIGIOUS AND OTHER PRIVATE SCHOOL EDUCATION. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Requires state to provide yearly voucher payments ($14,000 initially, adjusted annually) into Education Savings Accounts for K-12 students attending religious and other private schools. Funds payments through General Fund and local property tax revenues currently allocated to public (including charter) schools.
Online Petition Option for signature gathering for initiatives, recall elections.
AUTHORIZES ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE GATHERING FOR INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, AND RECALL PETITIONS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires Secretary of State to develop a system that allows voters to view state and local initiative, referendum, and recall petitions on Secretary of State’s website and to sign them electronically directly on the website, or to download, print, and sign the printed petitions. Requires Secretary of State or local elections official to verify these signatures.
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, “Within six months from this measure’s approval by voters, the Secretary of State would be required to develop a system that allows voters to view initiative, referendum, and recall petitions on a statewide internet website and do either of the following: (1) electronically sign the petition (with necessary identifying information) via that website or (2) download, print, and sign a petition document in the “portable document format” (known as PDF).”
Eliminates collective bargaining for public employees. This is big.
ELIMINATES COLLECTIVE BARGAINING FOR TEACHERS, POLICE OFFICERS, NURSES, FIREFIGHTERS, AND OTHER PUBLIC EMPLOYEES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Eliminates collective bargaining between state/local governments and labor organizations (including unions) representing teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters, and other public employees about wages, benefits, hours, labor disputes, or other work conditions. Requires the Governor-appointed State Personnel Board to establish wages and benefits for state employees.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office explains: “Prohibits Public Employers in California From Bargaining With Employee Organizations. The measure would prohibit the state or any of its political subdivisions from establishing a contract with or otherwise collectively bargaining with a public employee organization. The measure would apply to all state and local government entities in California. Effectively, the measure prohibits state and local governments from using collective bargaining to establish public employees’ compensation. The measure does not, however, prevent employees from organizing or joining unions or associations that represent employees during disciplinary hearings, engage in political speech, or otherwise advocate for employees.”
Another school choice initiative offering vouchers has requested ballot title and summary from the Attorney General.
“Education Savings Act of 2022” would create education savings accounts that follow the students to an accredited school or homeschool of their choice. Students would be able to opt into a K-12 savings account with $13,000 a year in state education funds to be used for tuition or other eligible education expenses.
Private schools in California currently education approximately 471,000 students at 3,050 private schools throughout the state.
The More Water Now initiative is huge. They have requested ballot title and summary from the Attorney General:
Specifically calls for two percent of the state’s general fund – about $3.5 billion per year – to be allocated to projects that increase California’s water supply.
“Water Infrastructure Funding Act” also permits up to half of those funds to be used to finance large water supply projects immediately. Tens of billions of dollars will become available. This two percent funding solution will continue until new completed projects add another five million acre feet per year of water supply to California’s farms and cities.”
An initiative “to allow families to keep the properties their parents worked so hard to acquire.”
“Repeal the Death Tax Act,” which has requested ballot title and summary from the Attorney General, would reinstate Propositions 58 and 193. Parents would once again be able to transfer a home and a limited amount of other property to their children without triggering reassessment and a property tax increase.
An initiative to require voter ID verification in all future elections. This is big.
“California Election Integrity Initiative” has filed for ballot title and summary from the Attorney General to require voter ID verification in all future elections.
Numerous other initiatives are awaiting ballot title and summary. The Globe will update the list as they are finalized.
You can read all of the current initiatives gathering signatures, as well as the full summaries, at the California Attorney General’s website.