A Plain English Guide to Propositions on California’s November 2022 Ballot

A Plain English Guide to Propositions on California’s November 2022 Ballot

California voters will be asked to vote on 7 statewide ballot measures in the November 2022 election – but the titles and descriptions written by state politicians are intentionally confusing and downright misleading. Reform California has a simple voter guide that cuts through the clutter and explains the November 2022 ballot measures in “Plain English.”

It happens every election cycle in California. Voters open their ballots to find a long list of ballot measures with confusing ballot titles. The process leaves most voters frustrated, if not angry.

It shouldn’t be this way. The non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recommends that initiative titles and summaries should be “concise, accurate, and impartial.” Sadly in California the politicians are trying to manipulate the vote by giving favorable titles and summaries to ballot measures they like and unfavorable titles and summaries to ballot measures they don’t like.

Fortunately, Reform California offers voters a “Plain English” voter guide to simplify the process and decode the manipulative language used by politicians.

“You have to be careful and know what you’re voting for – especially because this year there are hidden tax increases on the ballot and competing gambling initiatives as well,” warns Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California. 

Here is a “plain English” rundown of the seven statewide ballot measures on California’s 2022 ballot: 

Prop 1:

Official Title: Reproductive Freedom. Constitutional Amendment.

Plain English Translation: Eliminates Any Restrictions on When Abortions Can Be Performed

Prop 1 is being sold publicly as merely a codification of a pro-choice position in the California state constitution but it actually goes far further than that. The actually text of this ballot measure would repeal the current ban on abortions after 23 weeks of a pregnancy and allow the right to a late-term abortion up to the moment of birth. Prop 1 would give California one of the most extreme abortion laws in the country. This measure may also interfere with existing state laws that allow for Sexually Violent Predators to be placed under mandatory chemical treatment to limit their sex drive and desires. Reform California recommends a NO vote.

Prop 26:

Official Title: Authorizes New Types Of Gambling. Initiative Constitutional and Statutory Amendment.

Plain English Translation: Protects and Expands Gambling Rights of Native American Tribes 

Prop 26 affirms the current practice of allowing only 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. It would also allow on-site sports wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in specified counties for ages 21 and up. This ballot measure was placed on the ballot by tribal gaming groups to compete with Prop 27 which is sponsored by corporate interests.

Prop 27:

Official Title: Allows Online And Mobile Sports Wagering. Initiative Constitutional and Statutory Amendment.

Plain English Translation: Allows Private Businesses to Engage in Online Gambling to Compete with Native American Tribes

Prop 27 would expand gambling in California beyond casinos currently operated by Native American tribes by allowing private businesses to operate online and mobile sports wagering for persons 21 and up. Native American tribes say this competition from private businesses will undermine their ability to fund programs for their tribes. Reform California recommends a NO vote.

Prop 28:

Official Title: Provides Additional Funding For Arts And Music Education In Public Schools. Initiative Statute.

Plain English Translation: Earmarks Mandatory Funding from the Existing State Education Budget for Arts and Music Programs

Prop 28 is an earmark – or a requirement that the state spend at least a certain amount of funds from the state budget for the exclusive benefit of art and music programs. The earmark mandates that 1% of required state and local funding for public schools be set aside for arts and music programs and then allocates a greater proportion of the funds to schools serving more economically disadvantaged students. Earmarks are not free money – so any earmark will have to come at the expense of other educational programs for fundamental academic areas like reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. Reform California recommends a NO vote.

Prop 29: 

Official Title: Requires On-Site Licensed Medical Professional At Kidney Dialysis Clinics And Establishes Other State Requirements. Initiative Statute

Plain English Translation: Imposes Costly Regulations on Kidney Dialysis Clinics to Benefit Organized Labor Unions

Prop 29 may be familiar to voters since it has been rejected TWICE before in 2018 and 2020. Why does it keep appearing on the ballot? Wealthy labor unions force the measure on the ballot in an attempt to impose new costly regulations on kidney dialysis clinics that would benefit the interests of the unions. Prop 29 requires specific medical personnel on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics – whether or not the personnel are even needed. The measure also increases mandatory state reporting and prohibits clinics from closing or substantially reducing services without state approval. A “no” vote keeps your doctors and clinics more independent from state control. Reform California recommends a NO vote.

Prop 30:

Official Title: Provides Funding for Programs to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Increasing Tax on Personal Income Over $2 Million. Initiative Statute.

Plain English Translation: TAX INCREASE – Increases Income Taxes to Fund a Variety of New Government Programs

Prop 30 is a massive income tax increase – even though California already has the highest income taxes in the country of any state. Prop 39 imposes a 1.75% tax increase for personal incomes over $2 million. Revenue for the proposition aims to go toward climate change measures, but the definition of programs eligible for these new funds is quite broad as to allow the funds to be used in a wide-range of ways. Reform California recommends a NO vote.

Prop 31:

Official Title: Referendum Challenging A 2020 Law Prohibiting Retail Sale Of Certain Flavored Tobacco Products

Plain English Translation: Should California Ban the Sale of Flavored Tobacco?

Prop 31 is a “referendum” or question on whether an proposed state law should be implemented or rejected. State Senate Bill, SB 793, which prohibits the retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products and tobacco flavor enhancers. A “yes” vote would uphold and pass the law into effect, banning the retail sale of these flavored tobacco products. A “no” vote would overturn the law and tobacco companies would be allowed to sell flavored tobacco products in the state. 

To access Reform California’s full Plain English Voter Guide, visit www.ElectionGuideCalifornia.org

JOIN THE FIGHT: Reform California Voter Guide Campaign

How California Politicians Manipulate Voters with Deceptive Ballot Titles

How California Politicians Manipulate Voters with Deceptive Ballot Titles

Democrats control the ballot title process in California and they have abused that control to put false and misleading titles on ballot measures. Reform California is proposing to change that to remove bias and make elections honest.

Since 1911, California voters have had the Constitutional right to place “citizen initiatives” directly on the ballot and impose reform on their politicians. In addition to the right to recall politicians from office, the citizen initiative serves as a key check on state and local government.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) contends that initiative titles and summaries

should be “concise, accurate, and impartial.” However, in California, partisan politicians decide what verbiage ultimately goes on the ballot. 

The California Attorney General is responsible for writing state initiative ballot titles and summaries. This has led to what opponents label “confusing” language that tricks voters into approving measures they don’t agree with.

Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California, knows this all too well after fighting to get Proposition 6 on the ballot in 2018. 

In 2018 Prop 6 aimed to repeal the highly unpopular car and gas tax hikes imposed by Senate Bill 1. However, the proposed ballot title “Gas Tax Repeal Initiative” was switched to “Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding.”

“The Democrat Attorney General manipulated voters with ballot language written to make you believe the state would lose valuable ‘road repair’ funding — when the truth was that the money was really going to the general fund to finance liberal pet projects,” explained DeMaio. 

“The initiative actually sought to repeal recent increases in the gas tax and car registration fees and let voters decide for themselves on increases in the future,” DeMaio continued.

In 2020 politicians again gave a biased title to Proposition 15. The measure would have been a property tax hike that repealed sections of Prop 13 from 1978. Rather than state this, Prop 15’s title was “Increases Funding for Schools and Community Services…” 

“Prop 15 was sneaky — there wasn’t a single mention of ‘tax increase’ in the title,” said DeMaio. “California state politicians are liars, cheats, and thieves and we see it on the local level too as politicians place measures on your ballot that raise taxes without telling you,” DeMaio explained.

But how much does language alter the outcome of the election? 

In 2018, Competitive Edge Research & Communication (CERC) conducted a statewide poll of 428 randomly sampled likely voters, with a +/- 4.7% margin of error. The poll surveyed voters on their likelihood to vote for Prop 6 given actual vs proposed ballot language. A yes vote would repeal the gas and car taxes, and a no vote would leave them in place.

Voter preferences with the actual ballot language, “Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding,” closely followed the results of the 2018 election: 50% voted no and 32% voted yes. In reality, Prop 6 was defeated 57-43%.

However, the proposed ballot language, “Repeal the Gas Tax and Repeal the Vehicle Fees,” saw inverse results: 48% voted yes and 38% voted no. 

“The results of these polls and common sense is clear — politicians robbed the voters of cheaper gas and car registration fees by confusing them on the ballot,” said DeMaio. “Now we’re really seeing the results of that in the current gas crisis, where $1.26 per gallon is just taxes in California that could be eliminated and provide immediate relief to struggling families,” he said.

Republicans in the State Legislature recently attempted to pause the gas tax, but the effort was defeated along party lines — with Democrats supporting a further 2.86¢ gas tax increase this July.

DeMaio and Reform California are proposing a way to change the citizen initiative and remove politicians from the process, instead giving the responsibility for writing ballot titles and summaries to a neutral and independent body.

The Reform California proposal is simple:

  1. Take Politicians Out of the Process: The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office shall provide the Title and Summary of all state ballot measures. In cases where an initiative is a Citizens’ Initiative, the Citizens shall also be able to offer a short Title for their Initiative to accompany the Title provided by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Local governments shall be required to designate a neutral third-party (such as County Counsel or City Attorney) to devise ballot Titles and Summaries.
  2. Require all Tax Hikes Be Disclosed: The words “TAX INCREASE” shall be the first words of the title for any measure that increases taxes.
  3. Give Courts Jurisdiction: Courts should be empowered to make additional modifications to Titles and Summaries of ballot measures if any misleading information is presented by proponents or opponents.

DeMaio says that they are currently supporting a citizen initiative known as the Taxpayer and Government Accountability Act, which begins the ballot reform process. If approved, the measure would force all tax increases to be disclosed and detailed on the ballot.

“We must get the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act on the ballot, so please sign the petition and share it with your friends, family, and neighbors,” said DeMaio. “It’s a crucial first step in ballot reform, but the fight won’t end there,” he concluded.

DeMaio is urging all Californians to back Reform California’s mission to reform the ballot title process. Join the campaign today and sign the petition to get the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act on the ballot.

Join the Campaign: Make Ballot Titles Honest

Reform California Blasts State Attorney General Over Another False Ballot Title on a Citizen Initiative

Reform California Blasts State Attorney General Over Another False Ballot Title on a Citizen Initiative

Pattern Emerges of Grossly Misleading Titles Being Placed on Ballot Measures Opposed by State Politicians

In 1911 California voters secured a Constitutional Right to use “Citizen Initiatives” to place items on the ballot to impose reform on their politicians. Today the state politicians have found a way to strip citizens of that precious right through pure deception. Read More