The 2018 California Voter Guide for People Who Don't Know Politics

On November 6th, voters across the state will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on a variety of issues and races that will have an impact on things that affect their every day lives. 

Eleven propositions made it to November's ballot and they range from things like bonds to pay for children's hospitals upgrades and water infrastructure, to deciding the fight over the gas tax and if farm animals should live in larger pens and cages before being slaughtered. 

Dozens of candidates across the state are also vying for your votes in some major races including the race for the Governor's office after Gov. Jerry Brown termed out this year. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is fending off a Democratic challenger, Kevin de León and a pair of unknown Democratic candidates are in a race to see who can take the Lt. Gov. office. 

With all that in mind, we decided to put together a primer to help voters make sense out of all the issues and races you'll see at the ballot box this November.

First, a quick review of some crucial dates you need to know: 

  • Monday Oct 22nd: Last day to register in person or online
  • Tuesday October 30th: Last day to request an Absentee Ballot
  • Tuesday November 6th: Election Day! 
  • Friday November 9th: Absentee Ballot Deadline
California midterm election happens on November 6

Governor's Race

Gavin Newsom (D) vs John Cox (R)

After wrapping up his fourth tour as Governor of California (1975-1983, 2011-2019), Jerry Brown has termed out and will be leaving the governor's mansion in 2019, leaving the seat wide open for two challengers: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Businesman John Cox (R). 

Who is Gavin Newsom?

A longtime advocate of progressive politics, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom once acted as mayor for San Francisco, later going on to work as Lt.  Gov. for Gov. Jerry Brown. Newsom is a strong proponent for LGBTQ issues, and as mayor of San Francisco, issued some of the first gay marriage licenses in the United States. He's also positioned himself as another foil to President Donald Trump's agenda, saying that California must lead the way in advancing policies that are grounded in compassion and innovation. 

Who is John Cox? 

Businessman John Cox came to California from Illinois in 2011. After founding a law firm specializing in corporate law and tax planning in 1981, Cox went on to found the Cox Financial Group Ltd, which specializes in investment counseling, income tax planning, retirement planning and asset protection. He came to California to help residents deal with the many complications and issues that come with living in the Golden State. 

U.S. Senator

Kevin de León (D) vs Dianne Feinstein (D)


Who is Kevin de León? 

Kevin de León is the current President pro tempore of the California State Senate and served as an assembly representing the 45th Assembly District. Ever since declaring his intention to run against against Sen. Dianne Feinstein, de León has received the endorsement of the California Democratic party, but has struggled to raise money and find name recognition. 

Who is Dianne Feinstein?

As one of the longest-serving senators, Dianne Feinstein was first elected to represent California in the Senate during a special election in 1992. She's been re-elected 4 times since then and in 2012, had the record for the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election in history with more than 7.75 million votes received. 

Propositions

Each election, California voters have the opportunity to gather signatures to put whatever issue they want to deal with on the ballot. Any issue, no matter how outlandish, can appear on the California ballot if the organizers collect a certain amount of signatures. 

This year, Californians have 11 different propositions they can vote on that cover issues like bond measures for children's hospitals, to repealing a gas tax passed by the legislature last year. 

Oftentimes, language in ballot measures can be confusing (usually by design), so here's a guide help you determine what your vote will really mean in each of the issues before the voters on Nov. 6. 

Proposition 1

Proposition 1 - Authorizes bonds to fund specified housing assistance programs

Authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans, farmworkers, manufactured and mobile homes, infill, and transit-oriented housing. Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging about $170 million annually over the next 35 years.

The first bond measure on your ballot is a $4 billion bond that if passed, would try and deal with the problem of affordable housing in California. 

It's no secret that it's getting harder for families in California to afford a decent place on an average salary. Supporters of Prop 1 say the $4 billion bond will help veterans and low-income Californians deal with the high-costs of living on the west coast, while opponents say Prop 1 is just another example of California diving even deeper into long-term debt to solve a current problem, noting that California residents will be on the hook for $170 million a year for the next 35 years. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: Allows the state to sell $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund veterans and affordable housing.

Here are the groups who support the measure:: Chan Zuckerberg InitiativeMembers' Voice of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of CaliforniaHousing Trust Silicon Valley

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: The state could not sell $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund veterans and affordable housing.

No opposition groups as of 10/16/2018

Proposition 2

Proposition 2 - Authorizes bonds to fund existing housing program for individuals with mental illness

Amends Mental Health Services Act to fund No Place Like Home Program, which finances housing for individuals with mental illness. Ratifies existing law establishing the No Place Like Home Program. Fiscal Impact: Allows the state to use up to $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. These bonds would fund housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.

The next bond measure you'll see on your ballot is also known as the "There's No Place Like Home Act", which aims to set aside $2 billion to help those with mental illness who are homeless find permanent housing. Proponents say this bond measure is already paid for, as it takes money out of the so-called "millionaire's tax" approved by voters in 2004. 

However, opponents say they want that money to be spent on treatment and other services for the homeless, not housing. They say lawmakers will use Prop 2 funds for things other than helping the homeless and that developers will try and take advantage of the funding. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could use existing county mental health funds to pay for housing for those with mental illness who are homeless.

Here are the groups who support the measure: California American College of Emergency PhysiciansCalifornia Labor FederationCalifornia Police Chiefs AssociationCalifornia State Firefighters’ AssociationHabitat for HumanityLeague of California CitiesLeague of Women Voters on CaliforniaNational Alliance on Mental Illness CaliforniaSteinberg Institute

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: The state’s ability to use existing county mental health funds to pay for housing for those with mental illness who are homeless would depend on future court decisions.

Here are the groups who oppose the measure: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Proposition 3

Proposition 3 - Authorizes bonds to fund projects for water supply and quality, watershed, fish, wildlife, water conveyance, and groundwater sustainability and storage

Authorizes $8.877 billion in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects. Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging $430 million per year over 40 years. Local government savings for water-related projects, likely averaging a couple hundred million dollars annually over the next few decades.

The third bond measure you'll see on your ballot this November is a nearly $9 billion bond meant to improve water infrastructure across the state. You may be wondering, 'Didn't we already do this last year?' And you'd be right. This is the third bond measure since 2014 that deals with water projects and infrastructure

Supporters say the new bond measure is desperately needed to help pay for projects like water recycling, conservation, storm water capture, groundwater storage other projects, like the restoration of the Los Angeles River. 

Opponents say the latest water bond is just another pay-to-play scheme by the very groups who will benefit the most from the spending - particularly farmers in the Central Valley. 

Average cost of Prop 3 to the state budget would be $433 million over the 40-year life of the bond. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could sell $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds to fund various water and environmental projects.

Here are the groups who support the measure: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), U.S. Rep. Jim Costa (D-16), U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-3), Sen. Toni Atkins (D-39), Rep. Tony Thurmond (D-15) - 2018 superintendent candidate, John Cox (R) - 2018 gubernatorial candidate, Fiona Ma (D) - 2018 treasurer candidate, California Labor Federation, Professional Engineers in California Government, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association, American Pistachio Growers, California Fresh Fruit Association, and MANY more are listed on the YES ON 3 website.

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: The state could not sell $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds to fund various water and environmental projects.

Here are the groups who oppose the measure: Rep. Anthony Rendon (D-63), Sierra Club California, Friends of the River, League of Women Voters of California, Save The American River Association, Southern California Watershed Alliance

Proposition 4

Proposition 4 - Authorizes bonds funding construction at hospitals providing children's health care

Authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds, to be repaid from state’s General Fund, to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of qualifying children’s hospitals. Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs to repay bonds averaging about $80 million annually over the next 35 years.

The fourth and final bond measure on your ballot this November is the 'Children's Hospital Bonds Initiative' that would authorize $1.5 billion in renovations and expansions at 13 pediatric hospitals across the state. 

Supporters say an influx of cash is needed to refit the children's hospitals and bring them up to code for new seismic requirements by 2030. They also argue that a handful of hospitals in the state handle the majority of the hospitalizations, and many of those patients aren't fully insured. 

Opponents say Prop 4 isn't necessary and much of the funding can be found from private sources. They also say they've been burned before by bond measures that promise a lot, but nothing is ultimately done. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: The state could sell $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds for the construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of certain hospitals that treat children.

Here are the groups who support the measure: California Teachers AssociationCalifornia Children's Hospital Association

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: The state could not sell the $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds proposed for these purposes.

Here are the groups opposing the measure: California Republican Party

Prop 5

Proposition 5 - Changes requirements for certain property owners to transfer their property tax base to replacement property

Removes certain transfer requirements for homeowners over 55, severely disabled homeowners, and contaminated or disaster-destroyed property. Fiscal Impact: Schools and local governments each would lose over $100 million in annual property taxes early on, growing to about $1 billion per year. Similar increase in state costs to backfill school property tax losses.

Prop 5, or the Property Tax Transfer Initiative is a slight adjustment to one of California's most famous Propositions - Prop 13, which passed in 1978. If passed, Prop 5 would allow a larger pool of people who sell their homes be able to keep their Prop. 13-level tax rates. That means, those seniors who qualify would be able to move without having to deal with a huge jump in their tax bill.

Supporters say Prop. 5 is just a continuation of Prop. 13's original intent - helping people on fixed incomes avoid enormous, unexpected tax bills. They say older people who sell their homes thanks to Prop. 5 will help the real estate market, making it easier for first-time buyers. 

Opponents to Prop. 5 suggest the ballot measure is a give away to the real estate industry and home sellers that will be financed by the taxpayer. They also point out that most of the buyers and sellers who are affected by the "moving penalty" are usually cashing in on gains in the property's value. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: All homeowners who are over 55 (or who meet other qualifications) would be eligible for property tax savings when they move to a different home.

Here are the groups who support the measure: California Association of Realtors

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: Certain homeowners who are over 55 (or who meet other qualifications) would continue to be eligible for property tax savings when they move to a different home.

Here are the groups who oppose the measure: California Teachers Association

Prop 6

Proposition 6 - Eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding, requires certain fuel taxes and vehicle fees be approved by the electorate

Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation. Fiscal Impact: Reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs.

Last year, the California legislature passed SB 1, which raised California's gas tax and registration fees in an effort to raise money to finance road, freeway expansions and repairs. A 12-cent tax was tacked onto every gallon of gas sold in California and registration fees went up by an average of $50 per vehicle. 

If Prop. 6 is approved, that 12-cent tax vanishes, saving consumers more than $5 billion every year. But, it could also end dozens of projects that have already been financed by SB1's revenues. The measure would also require a two-thirds vote from the electorate to approve any new gas tax. 

If Prop 6 is defeated, more than $54 billion will remain available over the next decade to fund various projects across the state.

Supporters say passing Prop 6 would lower gas prices almost immediately and end a regressive tax that hits struggling families across California the most. Supporters also argue that the state can finance road construction without a gas tax by using money earmarked for other projects and programs. 

Opponents point out that California's roads and bridges has received poor grades and is some of the worst in the nation and upgrading them is a necessity, not an option. The revenue from the gas tax and registration fee increase is crucial to completing the more than 6,500 projects connected to SB1's funding. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would be eliminated, which would reduce funding for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would be required to get a majority of voters to approve new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

Here are the groups who support the measure: Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan (R-1, Wisconsin), U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-22), Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox (R), California Republican Party, Ventura County Republican Party, National Federation of Independent Businesses

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would continue to be in effect and pay for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would continue not to need voter approval for new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

Here are the groups who oppose the measure: Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Sen. Bill Dodd (D-3), Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), Los Angeles, Mayor Robert Moon (D), Palm Springs, California Democratic Party, California Chamber of Commerce, Rebuild California Committee

Prop 7

Proposition 7 - Conforms California Daylight Saving Time to Federal Law. Allows Legislature to change Daylight Saving Time period

Gives Legislature ability to change daylight saving time period by two-thirds vote, if changes are consistent with federal law. Fiscal Impact: This measure has no direct fiscal effect because changes to daylight saving time would depend on future actions by the Legislature and potentially the federal government.

If you prefer Daylight Saving Time (the time frame we use for daylight between Spring and early fall) and want it year round, this is the ballot initiative for you. 

Supporters say that while the proposition won't lead to longer days in the winter, it does bring many benefits to Californians including fewer heart attacks, and energy reductions that could save the state up to $434 million every year. 

Opponents point out that the current system allows students and workers to start their day when there's sunlight out. During the shortest days of the year, the sun doesn't start peeking out until close to 8 a.m. They say the current system is the safest for school-aged children.

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: The Legislature, with a two-thirds vote, could change daylight saving time if the change is allowed by the federal government. Absent any legislative change, California would maintain its current daylight saving time period (early March to early November).

Here are the groups supporting the measure: Rep. Kansen Chu (D-25), Rep. Lorena Gonzalez (D-80)

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: California would maintain its current daylight saving time period.

Here are the groups opposing the measure: Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-19), Rep. Phillip Chen (R-55)

prop 8

Proposition 8 - Regulates amounts outpatient kidney dialysis clinics charge for dialysis treatment

Requires rebates and penalties if charges exceed limit. Requires annual reporting to the state. Prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on payment source. Fiscal Impact: Overall annual effect on state and local governments ranging from net positive impact in the low tens of millions of dollars to net negative impact in the tens of millions of dollars.

Also known as the "Limits on Dialysis Clinics' Revenue and Required Refunds Initiative," Prop. 8 would require clinics who provide dialysis services to provide refunds on revenue exceeding more than 115 percent of the cost of caring for patients. The initiative also requires clinics to accept most patients, regardless of their insurer. Reporting requirements for clinics would also be increased. 

Supporters of the measure say Prop. 8 will bring much-needed transparency and better oversight by state regulators to clinics. That will help reduce fraud and over billion, which many say is rampant in the industry. 

Opponents point out that Prop. 8 will force many dialysis clinics to close, which could become a major health crisis for the more than 66,000 Californians who currently require dialysis. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: Kidney dialysis clinics would have their revenues limited by a formula and could be required to pay rebates to certain parties (primarily health insurance companies) that pay for dialysis treatment.

Here are the groups who support the measure: California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), California Labor FederationSEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: Kidney dialysis clinics would not have their revenues limited by a formula and would not be required to pay rebates.

Here are the groups who oppose the measure: California Medical Association, National Kidney FoundationDaVita Dialysis, American Renal Management LLC

Prop 9

Proposition 9 - Breaking California up into three states

Proposition 9 originally qualified for the November ballot after venture capitalist Tim Draper collected enough signatures. However, after a challenge to the legality of the proposition was filed by the Planning and Conservation League, the California Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State to remove the initiative from the ballot. 

prop 10

Proposition 10 - Expands local governments' authority to enact rent control on residential property

Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property. Fiscal Impact: Potential net reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more.

Prop. 10 brings us back to the affordable housing issue that affects many Californians around the state. The 'Local Rent Control Initiative'  as its also known, would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, which would allow cities and other local jurisdictions set rules on rent control, giving them more freedom on how those rules should work. 

Supporters say Prop. 10 will result in many cities in the state pass or strengthen rent control rules, which in turn will help drive down rents. They point to rising rents as one of the major factors to increases in poverty and income inequality across the state. 

Opponents say Prop. 10 would only make California's housing problems worse. They say stronger rent control measures will prevent landlords and apartment developers from bringing properties to the market. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: State law would not limit the kinds of rent control laws cities and counties could have.

Here are the groups supporting the measure: Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) - Los Angeles, Mike Bonin - Los Angeles City Council - District 11, Lindsey Horvath - West Hollywood City Council, California Democratic Party, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Democratic Socialists of America - Los Angeles, Our Revolution, AFSCME California PEOPLE, California Federation of Teachers, California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, SEIU California

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: State law would continue to limit the kinds of rent control laws cities and counties could have.

Here are the groups opposing the measure: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) - 2018 gubernatorial candidate, John Cox (R) - 2018 gubernatorial candidate, California Republican Party, California Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, California Small Business Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, NAACP - California Conference, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), United Latinos Vote

prop 11

Proposition 11 - Requires private-sector emergency ambulance employees remain on-call during work breaks. Eliminates certain employer liability

Law entitling hourly employees to breaks without being on-call would not apply to private-sector ambulance employees. Fiscal Impact: Likely fiscal benefit to local governments (in the form of lower costs and higher revenues), potentially in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

Prop. 11, or "The Ambulance Employees Paid On-Call Breaks, Training, and Mental Health Services Initiative," would create new rules for on-call ambulance drivers while they're on-duty. If passed, drivers would be required to remain available during breaks in case a call comes in. Drivers would also need to be reachable by cell phone (or other devices) during meal and rest periods. Employees would be still be compensated while they're on break, and wouldn't need to take their break at the beginning or end of their shift. 

Supporters say the law brings ambulance drivers in line with similar rules governing other emergency workers like police, firemen, or other emergency service providers. The proposition is being backed by the American Medical Response, which employs 29,000 clinician/drivers and owns about 6,600 ambulances. 

Opponents say this initiative is about more than just making sure Ambulance drivers get a break and it's actually about helping one of the largest ambulance companies in the state dodge lawsuits dealing with labor violations that are currently pending against the company in California. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: Private ambulance companies could continue their current practice of having emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics stay on-duty during their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls. Private ambulance companies would attempt to reschedule meal and rest breaks that are interrupted by a 911 call.

Here are the groups supporting the measure: American Medical Response (Private Ambulance transportation company with contracts in several cities and counties throughout the state of California)

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: Private ambulance companies would be subject to labor laws for this industry. Based on a recent court decision, these laws likely would require ambulance companies to provide EMTs and paramedics with off-duty meal and rest breaks that cannot be interrupted by a 911 call.

Here are the groups opposing the measure: California Teachers Association, State Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez (D-52)

Proposition 12 - Establishes new standards for confinement of specified farm animals, bans sale of noncomplying products

Establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals. Prohibits sales of meat and egg products from animals confined in noncomplying manner. Fiscal Impact: Potential decrease in state income tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not more than several million dollars annually. State costs up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.

In 2008, California voters approved Prop. 2, which set limits for pen sizes and cages. The follow-up to that initiative is Prop. 12, which expands the size of pens and cages as well as defines when those new standards would have to be adopted by farms in California. 

Supporters of the measure include groups like The Humane Society, say current cage rules in place in California are inhumane and the new rules will help prevent the sale of any products based on animals suffering. 

However, egg and pork farmers, who oppose Prop. 12, say the new rules will just add costs that will have to be passed onto the consumers and may even lead to shortages of some meats and eggs. 

What a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: There would be new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egglaying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. California businesses would be banned from selling eggs or uncooked pork or veal that came from animals housed in ways that did not meet these requirements.

Here are the groups supporting the measure: The Humane Society of the United StatesThe American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsAnimal Welfare InstituteThe Humane Society Veterinary Medical AssociationOrganic Consumers AssociationCenter for Biological DiversityJewish Initiative for AnimalsEvangelicals for Social ActionCreatureKind

What a NO vote means:

A NO vote on this measure means: Current minimum space requirements for confining egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs, and calves raised for veal would continue to apply. Current ban on businesses in California selling eggs not meeting these space requirements for hens would remain in effect.

Here are the groups opposing the measure: Association of California Egg FarmersFriends of AnimalsHumane Farming Association (HFA), National Pork Producers CouncilPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Photos: Getty Images

title

Content Goes Here