As of July 1, seven propositions have qualified for the November ballot. The subjects begin with abortion and include funding for the arts in public schools, taxes for programs to reduce greenhouse gases, kidney dialysis, sale of flavored tobacco products and two on sports betting.
In June, after the initial release of the draft Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, the state Legislature quickly enacted state Constitutional Amendment 10. This was approved to be on the Nov. ballot.
It amends the California Constitution to ensure that, “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
A 1969 California Supreme Court decision (People v. Belous (1969) 71 Cal.2d 954) confirmed that the state constitution protects an individual’s choice to have or to not have an abortion. The constitution’s provision on the right to privacy was the basis for the court decision.
But a state Senate Report on the legislation argued, “The right to reproductive freedom is protected in California, but not by explicit language in the state’s constitution.” Therefore, individual’s reproductive and birth control choices would no longer rely on case law, but specific language in the constitution.
While Gov. Gavin Newsom and his colleagues believe this is the route to preserve the right to abortion in California, some feel that by putting it on the ballot gives the opponents an opportunity to deny it if the proposition is defeated.
Author Wendy Voorsanger made this argument in a special opinion column in “CalMatters” (https://calmatters.org/):
“Democrats don’t seem to understand the law of unintended consequences. Or perhaps they don’t comprehend the fierce determination of Republicans to eliminate women’s reproductive rights. Either way, the California Legislature just made a huge mistake by opening the door for anti-choice voters to deny women’s reproductive rights granted for the past 50 years,” she wrote July 8.
The Hill’s current state Sen. Melissa Melendez voted against the legislation authorizing the referendum on the SCA 10, or Prop 1, and offered her reasons on her Facebook page, “ … The constitutional amendment, which you will see on the ballot this November, makes no mention of any limitations placed on when a woman can get an abortion. It does not say that a woman has no right to an abortion at 39 weeks or right up to the moment of birth. It states that a woman has a right to an abortion irrespective of how pregnant she is. The supporters of this measure say that all current abortion laws would apply, however, that is not how the constitutional amendment reads and that of course means that the courts would have to determine what the legislature‘s intent was.”
This would authorize roulette, dice games and sports wagering on tribal lands subject to compacts negotiated with the state. Sports wagering also will be allowed for persons 21 years or older at licensed horse racing tracks.
The wagering would be in-person at tribal casinos and the four horse tracks.
Profits at these operations will have a 10% tax imposed to help fund enforcement and problem gambling programs.
The second sports wagering proposition legalizes online and mobile sports betting for those ages 21 and older. It also imposes a 10% tax on wagering profits. The costs for enforcement and regulation of this law will come from the tax revenue. 85% of the surplus tax revenue will be allocated to homeless programs and the remaining 15% to nonparticipating tribes.
Besides sporting events, it allows some betting on non-athletic activities such as award shows and video game competition.
This proposition is being funded by the existing gaming industry, such as FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings.
In a June 27 press release, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Chair Cody Martinez said, “The Corporate Online Gambling Proposition would legalize online and mobile sports gambling — turning virtually every cellphone, laptop, tablet and gaming console into a gambling device, increasing the risks of underage and problem gambling. We will run a vigorous campaign against this measure and are confident the voters will see through the deceptive promises being made by these out-of-state gambling corporations.”
“California’s homelessness and mental health crises demand action,” said Dana Williamson, the proposition’s campaign manager, in a press release. “Nearly half of all unsheltered people in the country live in California. Over the course of decades, every level of government has disinvested in mental health services leaving those in most dire need of support without help. Permanent solutions require a permanent funding source.
“The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act will raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fight homelessness and expand mental health support in California by allowing regulated entities to offer safe, responsible sports betting online.”
This would fund art and music education in kindergarten through 12th grade in California public schools. Of the required fund for state and local public schools, 1% would be devoted to this purpose. The Legislative Analyst’s Office and the state’s director of finance estimate that $800 million to $1 billion would be directed to these programs in 2023-2024.
According to the secretary of state’s summary, “Schools with 500 or more students must spend at least 80% of funding to employ teachers and remainder on training, supplies, and education partnerships.”
The California Teachers’ Association (CTA) has endorsed this measure. “Arts and Music education is critical, and no one knows that better than educators. This measure will help educators across the state provide all students with access to arts and music education,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd in a press release.
This would require that medical professionals (physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants) be licensed and have accrued at least six months experience at outpatient dialysis clinics. Physicians with clinic ownership of greater than 5% must be disclosed.
Also, any dialysis-related infection data must be reported to the state and clinics may not refuse to treat patients because of their payment source.
This is the third proposition since 2018 to attempt to tighten the oversight of dialysis clinics. Both the 2018 and 2020 efforts failed.
Incomes greater than $2 million would be assessed another 1.75% tax to fund programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
45% of the new revenue would be allocated to rebates and other incentives for purchasing zero-emission vehicles. 35% would be used to provide more charging stations for zero-emission vehicles. The remaining 20% would be directed to programs to help prevent or suppress wildfires. There would be a priority on hiring and training firefighters.
It is estimated this proposition would generate between $3 and $4.5 billion annually for these programs.
This referendum challenges the 2020 law (Senate Bill [SB] 793) that prohibits selling flavored tobacco products and tobacco flavor enhancers, whether smoked, chewed or inhaled.
SB 793 was signed into law Aug. 28, 2020. The exceptions were for hookah tobacco, loose leaf tobacco and premium cigars. Retailers would be fined $250 for each sale violating the law.
However, opponents obtained sufficient signatures to place a referendum on the ballot. This has delayed implementing SB 793 until the results on the referendum are confirmed in November.
Meanwhile, supporters of the law are proceeding with efforts to get individual counties, such as Sacramento, and local cities such as Chula Vista, Walnut Creek and San Diego, to approve local prohibitions of flavored tobacco products.