2020 Election: Daily Bruin Editorial Board proposition endorsements

(Emily Dembinski/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Editorial Board

October 12, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.

With the November general election around the corner, the Daily Bruin Editorial Board has deliberated upon and decided which propositions and candidates to endorse on the Los Angeles County ballot. Here are their endorsements and non-endorsements on the propositions and amendments on the ballot:

“Yes” on Proposition 14

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic and the record-breaking fire season have taught us, it’s that science is important.

Proposition 14 would grant $5.5 billion to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for stem cell research. CIRM was founded in 2004 and has since helped fund stem cell research in California. The editorial board endorses Proposition 14 because it will help support scientific advancement at a crucial moment for science.

Stem cell research has helped find treatments for Parkinson’s disease, spinal injuries and is even being used to try to find treatments for COVID-19.

Not to mention, Proposition 14 funding can help attract bright scientists to California and the UC. The CIRM has granted more than $300 million to research at UCLA and more than $1 billion to research at the UC since its inception in 2004.

And it wouldn’t just benefit those at the distant tenured-professor level — Proposition 14 also requires that some money go toward training programs for undergraduates and fellowships for graduate students.

Proposition 14 isn’t perfect. $5.5 billion is a lot of money, especially during a pandemic. And stem cell research hasn’t always proven to be a golden ticket cure for everything.

But, in thinking about our future, we should not skimp on science.

“Yes” on Proposition 15

For more than four decades, California has endured a twisted taxation system that punishes small businesses and rewards multimillion-dollar corporations.

The editorial board endorses Proposition 15 with the understanding that it will begin to reform that system.

When implemented in 1978, Proposition 13 required that all properties are taxed based on the price at the time of purchase. As a result, owners who hold onto their properties for long periods of time end up paying significantly fewer taxes than those who have bought similar property more recently, with well-established companies getting a better deal than new businesses and homeowners.

If Proposition 15 is passed, industrial and commercial properties valued at over $3 million will be taxed on current market value instead of the purchase price. The change is projected to generate a revenue of $6.5 to $11.5 billion annually, with some of it going to the state to make up for tax deductions and the remaining funds split into 40% for public schools and community colleges and 60% for local governments.

The proposition will both overturn the state’s regressive property tax and provide billions of dollars in additional funding in a time when educational inequities have been exacerbated. While Proposition 15’s measures will only be phased in by the 2022-2023 fiscal year, its revenue could be a path to a new normal schools undoubtedly need.

Even though raising taxes during a pandemic seems counterintuitive, the proposition’s conditions ensure that both homeowners and small businesses remain protected. Additionally, Proposition 15’s leading campaigner, Yes on 15, has required public disclosure of all resultant income and how it is spent as part of the ballot initiative.

Thus, for its transparency and commitment to schools and communities in need, the board endorses Proposition 15.

“Yes” on Proposition 16

Proposition 16 would bring back affirmative action in California.

The editorial board endorses the proposition as an imperfect but real solution to inaccessibility in higher education.

Marginalized groups face challenges at every step of the university experience that those in privileged situations do not. The odds are stacked against these communities when it comes to admission, retention and graduation rates.

The least California could do is begin to level the playing field.

When intrinsic traits – race, gender and sexual orientation among others – so strongly influence one’s outcomes in life, it is a false, imagined fairness to insist that public institutions maintain a veneer of egalitarianism when the disadvantages these communities face clearly evidence the contrary.

Proposition 16 is by no means the blanket solution to institutional inequity. While it may promise greater access, Californians must support legislation that more concretely addresses the upstream factors that cause existing disparities. Until such legislation is on the ballot, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The board urges Californians to vote for Proposition 16.

“Yes” on Proposition 17

Felons on parole in California are currently not allowed to vote until they have finished serving their parole sentence.

Proposition 17 would restore the right to vote for over 50,000 Californians currently on parole. It would also ensure that for future parolees, their supervised reentry into society would protect their right to have a voice in the democratic process. The editorial board urges voters to restore this right.

Parolees returning to their lives after incarceration shouldn’t be denied their role in the civic process. They are working, paying taxes and contributing to their communities. The opportunity to participate in everyday life after imprisonment is a way for parolees to legally readjust and get back on their feet — but the right to vote is one they need to engage in as responsible participants in our democracy.

Parole is an opportunity governed by heavy restrictions. Parolees can’t own firearms, travel farther than 50 miles from their residence without permission and are subject to random searches and seizures. These restrictions are intended to prevent parolees from participating in irresponsible or unsafe behaviors.

There is nothing unsafe or irresponsible about voting.

Nineteen states already allow parolees to vote. Two of those states never strip felons of the right to vote to begin with. The path toward treating felons like people capable of rehabilitation has been forged already – and it’s time California followed suit.

Denying paroled felons the right to vote is to deny them what parole promises: a chance to take control of their future.

“Yes” on Proposition 18

Motivating the youth to vote can be a difficult task, but supporting Proposition 18 would ensure California is up for the challenge.

The proposition, which would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will turn 18 by the time of the general election, is a no brainer – in fact, 18 other states already have similar laws on the books.

The editorial board endorses Proposition 18 because it upholds a basic assumption of our democratic system – that if people are affected by the law, they should be able to help create it.

Yes, 17-year-olds are minors, but by the time a general election rolls around, they will be adults. As such, they must have the opportunity to shape the options of that general election through civic engagement in primaries.

Proposition 18 is a small but meaningful change – and its enactment could help engage our next generation of voters.

“No” on Proposition 19

California’s housing market is far from perfect, and Proposition 19 would only make things worse.

The editorial board strongly urges voters to reject Proposition 19 because it would create further inequity in the housing market and put funding for wildfire response on the backs of younger generations.

Proposition 19 would allow eligible homeowners – largely seniors – to take a portion of their previous property’s artificially low property tax base with them when they buy a new home up to three times and expands the ability of those who inherit properties to keep older, low property tax levels. The measures would largely benefit older homeowners and hurt new ones.

When homeowners carry over a portion of their property tax base to buy a new house, they effectively receive a better deal than new buyers, crowding out younger generations.

While more efforts are needed to improve California’s housing market – and wildfire prevention – rejecting Proposition 19 is a start.

“No” on Proposition 20

Proposition 20 offers false promises of security through harsh criminalization.

The editorial board urges Californians to reject Proposition 20, a measure that would siphon tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into California’s prison systems in an effort to crack down on crimes like repeat shoplifting and the unlawful use of a credit card.

The proposition would expand the list of “wobbler” crimes, meaning it would reclassify some crimes that are currently misdemeanors, like drug possession crimes, as “wobbling” between misdemeanors or felonies. These newly classified wobbler crimes would cut down parole opportunities and take California backward in its fight against mass incarceration.

Proposition 20 would do well to read the room.

In a moment of sweeping unrest aimed squarely at the racism and cruelty of the American criminal justice system, Proposition 20 seeks to shore up a failed system. The proposition offers no apparent consideration for the research and activism in recent years that clearly demonstrate that overcriminalization is a no-win strategy.

Proposition 20 also boasts an increased mandate to collect DNA samples from individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors. While solving crimes through DNA matches is one of the proposition’s few adequate intentions, this would give police more power over individual privacy at a time when confidence in police has hit record lows.

Overpoliced Black and brown communities would likely feel the worst effects of Proposition 20. This itself is reason enough to reject Proposition 20 outright. Compounded with a national reckoning with institutional racism, Proposition 20 is an insult to California voters’ intelligence.

Californians must put this false “tough on crime” narrative to rest once and for all.

“Yes” on Proposition 21

Pleasing landlords should not be prioritized over keeping tenants in affordable homes.

This simple statement rings especially true in California, where 27% of all people experiencing homelessness in the United States reside as of January, 2019. Or at least it should.

Proposition 21 on this year’s election ticket aims to undo the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which specifies that local governments cannot place rent control on houses first occupied Feb. 1, 1995, or later. Instead, this updated legislation would make it so that any California housing occupied for 15 years or more can be subject to local rent control laws.

The editorial board endorses Proposition 21 because it would protect renters and keep Californians in their homes.

The perks of Proposition 21 are two-fold: It’s not specific to a single year, and it allows local areas that struggle with homelessness to better prevent landlords from unfairly increasing rent.

The ability of the legislation to stay relevant even with passing time is crucial. The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which passed in 1995, effectively made it so that all buildings from that date on are exempt from local rent control, while older ones are not.

Proposition 21 also has a rolling effect – houses first occupied now would be subject to local rent control in 15 years, while houses first occupied in five years would fall into the category in 20.

Outdated laws made to please landlords should not hamper the path toward lasting solutions any longer.

“No” on Proposition 22

App-based drivers are not fully protected under California labor laws.

Proposition 22 plans to keep it that way.

The editorial board does not endorse Proposition 22 because it fails to re-classify app-based drivers from independent contractors to employees. As independent contractors, app-based drivers are not guaranteed labor protections — such as health care, unemployment insurance and a minimum wage — given to formal employees.

Proposition 22 aims to offer drivers the benefits of official employment and the flexibility of independent contracting. It would require app-based companies to provide workers new health subsidies, accident insurance and 120% of minimum wage on driving time. However, researchers and politicians alike have recognized these are insufficient substitutes to protections workers would have received under state law.

App-based companies may have gotten away with denying their drivers basic protections under normal circumstances. But a pandemic and recession mean multimillion-dollar conglomerates should not be allowed to fatten their wallets at the expense of workers’ well-beings.

Voters must put workers before profits. Vote no on Proposition 22.

“No” on Proposition 23

Asking Californians to vote on how to carry out medical procedures demands monumental cause, but Proposition 23 does not offer any.

Proposition 23 would require at least one licensed physician present on site while patients are being treated for dialysis, a medical process of removing toxins from a person’s blood. The procedure is typically performed three times a week either for the rest of someone’s life or until the person has a kidney replacement.

But this proposition lacks support from medical professionals.

Opponents of this bill include the California Medical Association and the California NAACP State Conference. For a proposition that would change the way 80,000 patients are treated, one would want the endorsement of medical professionals, not political players like the California Democratic Party or a workers union.

Without endorsements from major groups of medical professionals, the editorial board cannot comfortably advocate for a change in dialysis treatment for more than 80,000 California patients. Vote no on Proposition 23.

“No” on Proposition 24

Proposition 24 is also known as the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative. And, yes, it’s every bit as vague and unnecessarily complex as its title suggests.

The editorial board does not endorse Proposition 24 for its lack of clarity surrounding what or who it’s meant to protect, along with the immediacy of its proposed amendments to the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.

This legislation in California just took effect at the onset of 2020. Proposed amendments on such a quick turnaround – along with the fact that voters must shuffle through a 52-page document of legal speak to even attempt to gain an understanding of the initiative – raise justified concern.

These changes, and their accompanying $10 million price tag, should not be punted from the legislature to California voters to decide. For all its complications, these issues should be thoroughly vetted by experts and the legislative process, not a 5-minute skim through Ballotpedia.

Online legislation is a relatively new field – making constant amendments via referendum will not benefit anyone’s understanding of it. Vote no on Proposition 24.

“Yes” on Proposition 25

Proposition 25 would end long-standing discriminatory practices of cash bail.

The editorial board endorses Proposition 25, which would reaffirm a 2018 California Senate bill that eliminates the cash bail system and establishes risk assessments to determine whether the defendant can be released before trial.

Under a cash bail system, defendants are kept in detention simply because they cannot afford to pay their way out. The system has long been used to stack the cards against racial minorities and economically disadvantaged communities, who may be indefinitely pushed into debt over an astronomically expensive bail.

Such life-changing decisions must be made with rigor and reason, not arbitrary judgments tainted by bias.

Proposition 25 would establish clear rules and algorithms to classify suspects as low, medium and high risks. But these algorithms aren’t perfect. Some critics fear that the algorithms, which extract data from a racially discriminatory judicial system, could further marginalize communities of color.

The main opposition against the bill and the proposition, however, comes from the bail bond industry, which has raked in millions in profits. To continue this predatory behavior, the industry has set out to destroy the bill from day one, raising millions of dollars and gathering enough signatures to initiate a veto referendum.

Proposition 25 poses a choice between a system governed by wealth and one governed by justice and equality. Californians must choose the latter.

“Yes” on the Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration Charter Amendment

Angelenos have long demanded change when it comes to community safety.

This November, one amendment can help launch that change. The Budget Allocation for Alternatives to Incarceration Charter Amendment is an important step to rewriting Los Angeles’ deep history of mass incarceration. If passed, it would mandate a minimum of 10% of the county’s general budget to be allocated toward social programs. This doesn’t just represent an important investment in the community – it invests in rehabilitation instead of retribution.

The amendment focuses on rehabilitation programs such as job training, youth development programs, mental health services and substance use disorder services. Rather than have a justice system that continues to mete out force and punishment, the amendment would shift the attention to social services and support.

Opponents may argue that this is too much, too fast – especially amid a financial crisis. But the amendment offers flexibility that would allow adjustments for unforeseen circumstances. For example, it would allow the county to revise the 10% minimum with a 4-1 vote from the county Board of Supervisors. The actual implementation of funds would also take place over three years, ensuring time to analyze the most effective distribution of funds.

Angelenos have the unique opportunity to force politicians to put money where their mouths are.

For this reason, the editorial board endorses the measure and urges voters to do the same.

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