2020 California Propositions Summarized


Juliet Shearin

Proposition 14: Bonds for Stem Cell Research


If passed, this proposition would let the California government issue $5.5 billion worth of bonds to fund grants for stem cell research. Some of the money would be earmarked for research into brain and nerve diseases like Alzheimer’s and strokes. The cost to the state to repay the bonds would be $260 million per year for the next 30 years.


This proposition will probably not have significant effects on a local level.


Proposition 15: Changing the Tax Assessment of Corporate and Industrial Property


If passed, this proposition would require that commercial and industrial properties phase into being taxed at their market-rate value. Currently, property in California is taxed at a rate stemming from the property’s value when it was purchased, adjusted for inflation. This proposition would remove that Proposition 13 protection from commercial and industrial (excluding agricultural land) worth $3 million or more. It would not affect residences or businesses with less than $3 million worth of property. The state government would split the money between local governments and schools. 


In cities like Cupertino, where land value has increased drastically, Proposition 13 plays an outsize role in keeping taxes down for corporations who have owned land for a long time. This proposition would likely affect large corporations like those in Silicon Valley but not cause any widespread changes to the tech industry. However, there is a chance this proposition would increase rent prices for small businesses who lease their storefronts from larger corporations. Finally, the increased tax revenue would partially go to schools, benefitting the Fremont Union High School District and the Cupertino Union School District (who suffer from funding deficits) greatly. 



Proposition 16: Allow Affirmative Action


This proposition would allow preferential treatment based on ethnicity, gender and other protected classes for public employment and university admissions. This proposition would not allow racial quotas but would allow the consideration of race and gender.


In Cupertino High School, which is majority Asian, this proposition would likely make it harder for the average Cupertino High School student to get into a public university like those in the UC system. However, this proposition could also combat the inequality that made Cupertino majority-Asian in the first place. 


Proposition 17: Restoring the Right to Vote to People on Parole


This proposition would give people on parole, who have finished their prison sentence and re-entered society, the right to vote. California is one of only three states who ban people on parole from voting.


This proposition will probably not have significant effects on a local level.


Proposition 18: Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds


This proposition would allow teenagers who turn 18 between primary and general elections to vote at age 17 in the primary elections. The rule change would only affect teenagers whose birthday falls between a primary or special election and November of general elections.


Some Cupertino High School students, mostly seniors, would gain the right to vote in primary elections.


Proposition 19: Property Tax Transfers and Exemptions

This proposition aims to make two main changes. First, it would let people over 55 move houses up to three times while retaining the same tax rates as their previous property tax assessments. Second, it would not allow old, lower-rate tax assessments to be inherited from a parent unless the home inherited is used as a primary residence. If the child does not live in the inherited house, it will be reassessed at market rate, increasing California’s tax revenue.


Many longtime homeowners in Cupertino already enjoy reduced property taxes, and this bill would not change that. However, the increased tax revenue will funnel into fire prevention efforts, helping Cupertino be safer.


Proposition 20: Criminal Sentencing


This proposition would alter several laws aimed at reducing California’s prison population. First, it would allow judges to classify some nonviolent theft or fraud crimes as felonies. Second, it would create two new theft crimes and allow them to be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Third, it would redefine 51 crimes as violent crimes expressly to exclude them from California’s nonviolent parole program and limit parole opportunities for people who commit those crimes. Finally, it would require DNA sampling for some people who committed a crime that used to be a misdemeanor and has now been reclassified as a felony. 


This proposition should not have specific local effects.


Proposition 21: Local Rent Control


If passed, this proposition would greatly expand local governments’ ability to make residences rent-controlled. Any housing unit would be available for rent-control with two key exceptions: houses first occupied in the last 15 years would be exempt, and individuals who own or rent out only one or two homes would be exempt. 


The long term impacts this proposition could have on Cupertino depend almost entirely on Cupertino’s local government moving forward. Rent control is a deeply controversial issue; both sides argue that passing or failing to pass the bill will worsen California’s housing crisis, and by extension Cupertino’s housing crisis. Those in favor of the bill say it protects renters and keeps housing costs low. Those opposed to it argue it disincentivizes developers to build affordable housing, a problem Cupertino already faces. 


Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Independent Contractors


This proposition would amend the controversial Assembly Bill 5 to classify Uber, Lyft and DoorDash drivers (among others) as independent contractors, not employees. It would also give all app-based drivers a wage floor; hour restrictions; and accident, health, liability and accidental death insurance. It would also require app companies who hire drivers to create policies against discrimination and sexual harassment, make driving training programs, and several other requirements.


Proponents say that failing to pass this proposition means Uber, Lyft and similar companies will no longer find it profitable to operate in all but the most populous cities. Opponents disagree and argue that workers deserve protections. Depending on who is correct, Cupertino residents may see more difficulty using services like these, or they may not.


Proposition 23: Dialysis Clinic Requirements


This proposition would require that a physician be present during all operating hours at dialysis clinics in California. It would also require dialysis clinics to report infections related to their care. Lastly, it would mandate that clinics not discriminate against patients because of their payment source: patients with government insurance like Medicare would receive the same treatment as people with private insurance.


This proposition likely will not have significant effects on a local level.


Proposition 24: Consumer Personal Information Protection


This proposition would require businesses not to share personal information if consumers request it, allow customers to opt out of having their data shared for advertising purposes and let people correct their personal information. Lawmakers intend for it to build on California’s Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. It also requires companies to get permission from people under age 16 to share their private data, and parent or guardian consent to share the information of people younger than 13. Finally, it creates the California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the law and the penalties for breaking it. It would cost at least $10 million annually.


Locally, this act would affect students at Cupertino High School by giving students under 16 the option to opt out of having their personal information shared. 


Proposition 25: Referendum on Cash Bail


This proposition is a referendum, a straight up-or-down vote on a law passed by the California State Senate. If passed, this proposition would eliminate cash bail and implement risk-assessment to determine whether the state will detain a person accused of a crime. It also highly limits the cases where judges can detain people convicted of misdemeanors pre-trial. Both sides agree that cash bail lets rich people go free before their trial while detaining poor people; both sides also argue the other reinforces racial bias in the justice system.


This proposition would likely not have significant local effects.