Reproductive Rights, Gambling, Flavored Tobacco, Taxing Millionaires: California's 7 Ballot Propositions Explained

California voters, you’re welcome. We did the work this year so that you don’t have to.

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You can’t turn on the TV without seeing at least a few political advertisements, whether it’s about gambling at tribal casinos or the risk facing kidney dialysis patients. They are about as common in October as pumpkin-spice everything.

It can only mean one thing. Election Day, Nov. 8, is quickly approaching.

On the ballot this year there are seven California propositions that cover a wide range of topics, from reproductive rights to gambling and the sale of flavored tobacco products. It can be overwhelming to research all of them. This year’s general election Official Voter Information Guide dedicated nearly 90 pages to explaining the propositions, who is for and/or against them and what the text of the proposed laws would be. Below, we break down the information into an easy-to-understand guide.

Proposition 1

Prop. 1 deals with reproductive rights in California, specifically the right to choose to have an abortion and choose or refuse contraceptives. The right to privacy in the California Constitution has been interpreted to include reproductive privacy, but it is not explicitly stated. Prop. 1 would do this by solidifying the above rights in the state constitution. 

Supporters say this would help protect the rights from political influence and secure them as being fundamental in California.

Opponents say it is unnecessary because the state already has the Reproductive Privacy Act and there is concern that the proposition does not include any language to prohibit abortions of a fetus that could survive outside of the womb. 

Learn more here.

Proposition 26

Prop. 26 would allow in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and some horse race tracks. At race tracks, only people 21-years-old and older would be allowed to bet. At tribal casinos, it would be up to each casino to negotiate its age minimum with the state. Prop. 26 would also allow tribal casinos to offer roulette and dice games. Private lawsuits to enforce certain gambling laws would also be allowed under this proposition.

Supporters say this would bring in a significant amount of money for the state and increase tribal self-sufficiency by bringing more business to their casinos. They also say it is the best way to protect against underage gambling, since it would be all in-person.

Opponents say this is a massive expansion of gambling in California, including horse racing which has been criticized for the treatment of horses. They also say because there is no universal age minimum at casinos, it could lead to underage gambling. There is also concern that this could put card clubs out of business and leave workers unprotected. 

Learn more here.

Proposition 27

Prop. 27 would legalize online sports betting for people who are over the age of 21 in California. It would only be offered by federally recognized Indian tribes and eligible businesses that contract with those tribes. Prop. 27 would impose a 10-percent tax on sports betting revenue. 85% of it would go toward homelessness programs and 15% would be distributed to tribes that do not offer sports betting.

Supporters emphasize the added resources for homelessness and mental health programs, as well as funding for all tribes. They also say there are strict laws to protect those under 21 years old and oversight by the Attorney General.

Opponents say this would turn all smart devices into gambling machines, potentially exposing kids to online betting. They also say this proposition would drive business away from tribal casinos and California, adding that most of the money would go toward out-of-state companies.

Learn more here.

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Proposition 28

Prop. 28 would secure funding for art and music education in public schools. The money would be at least 1% of funding from Prop. 98, which sets aside money for public schools and community colleges. Areas with a high proportion of low-income homes would get more funding, and large districts would need to spend the majority of it to hire art and music teachers.

Supporters say this would ensure better access to arts and music education in public schools without raising taxes. They also say it would improve mental health and social development.

There was no official opposition filed.

Learn more here.

Proposition 29

Prop. 29 requires on-site licensed medical professionals at kidney dialysis clinics and established other state requirements, including requiring clinics to be more transparent with patients about their ownership. The clinics would also need to be more transparent with the state about dialysis-related infection data. On top of that, it also prohibits clinics from closing or substantially reducing services without state approval. Clinics would also not be able to refuse treatment to patients based on source of payment.

Supporters say this proposition would make treatment safer for patients, make clinics more transparent and prohibit discrimination against patients based on their insurance type.

Opponents say it will put patients at risk by increasing costs for clinics, which could lead to a cut in services or full closures.

Learn more here.

Proposition 30

Prop. 30 would provide funding for programs in California to reduce air pollution and prevent wildfires by increasing income tax on people making more than $ 2 million each year. The 1.75-percent tax increase could last until 2043, but it could end earlier if California is able to meet its greenhouse gas emission goals. 45% of revenue from this proposition would go toward rebated and other incentives for electric vehicle purchases, 35% would help make more charging stations and the rest would go toward wildfire prevention and suppression programs with a focus on hiring and training firefighters.

Supporters say this would help make electric vehicles more affordable and realistic for Californians, while expanding the charging infrastructure throughout the state. It would also help reduce wildfires and get California closer to climate goals.

Opponents say this would increase taxes in an already expensive state and put added stress on our state’s power grid. They also say there’s already enough money in the state’s budget that is going toward electric vehicle programs

Learn more here.

Proposition 31

Prop. 31 is a referendum on a 2020 law that would prohibit the retail sale of some flavored tobacco products. Governor Gavin Newsom signed this into law, but it has not taken effect yet. A “yes” vote on this proposition would approve the law and allow it to take effect, while a “no” vote would reject the law and prevent it from taking effect.

Supporters say it protects kids from becoming addicted to nicotine, saves lives and taxpayer money. It also prevents big tobacco companies from causing more harm to communities of color.

Opponents say it is already illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 in California. They call this law prohibition, which they add has never worked and could lead to underground markets and an increase in crime.

Learn more here.

While Election Day for in-person voting at polling locations is Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., early vote-by-mail ballot lasts from Oct. 11 through Nov. 8.

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