You are 6 Minutes Away from Understanding the 6 California Ballot Propositions for Nov 4 Election

California bear flag

The words “ballot proposition” may not sound very fun or sexy, but it’s actually an awesome opportunity for each of us to play lawmaker for a day.

Unfortunately it’s also an opportunity for this guy to play lawmaker:

Stupid voter

At least you can make sure to cancel out his votes. Here’s what you need to know to be an informed voter and not a “moran.”

What exactly is a ballot proposition and where do they come from?

A proposition is when voters are asked to vote yes or no on a particular government action or a change in the law. They are proposed by either California lawmakers, or by “the people” (usually funded by an organization) who must submit hundreds of thousands of signatures to get an issue on the ballot.

So what laws or government actions will we be voting on?

For the November 4 elections you have the opportunity to vote on 6 statewide propositions. Here they are in brief, with links to more information from the California Secretary of State’s Voter Guide:

Proposition 1: Provides money for water. To deal with our worsening drought (seriously, where the hell is the rain??), the state government would borrow1The government would borrow this money by selling “bonds” to the public, which basically means people and organizations loan the state money and get the money back a certain number of years later with interest about $7.5 billion for water quality, supply, treatment, and storage projects. The program would cost the government (and thus taxpayers) about $360 million/year for 40 years.

Proposition 2: Increases government’s “rainy day” fund. Do you have a “rainy day” fund where you set aside money for when things get financially rough? Well so does the government for when the economy goes south. This proposition would change the rules of the rainy day fund in a few ways, including requiring the government to:

  • Put 1.5% of its general revenue into the fund each year
  • Use half of the money each year to pay down debts
  • Only use the money for an emergency or for budget deficits

Proposition 45: Health insurance rate change approval. Whenever a health insurance company wants to change the rates (or fees) it charges you, it would have to first get approval of the state Insurance Commissioner (the guy elected to regulate insurance companies). Basically it makes it a lot harder for insurance companies to raise your rates.

Proposition 46: Increased regulation of doctors and hospitals.

  • Increases malpractice recovery. Currently, if you sue a doctor or hospital for medical malpractice for such things as pain and suffering, you are limited to $250,000. This law would increase that cap to $1.1 million and adjust the cap annually for future inflation.
  • Prescription database checking. Health care providers would be required to check a statewide prescription drug database before prescribing or dispensing certain drugs to a patient for the first time.
  • Doctor drug tests. Hospitals would be required to test certain physicians for alcohol and drugs.

Proposition 47: Reduces penalties for certain nonviolent crimes. This proposition would reduce the penalties (including jail time) of most nonviolent drug and property crimes.2by changing the classifications from a felony to a misdemeanor. see glossary for definition of these terms It is projected to save the government hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and this money would be required to go to schools, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victims services. It would also likely reduce the state’s severe prison overcrowding, but some say it would be a safety risk.

Proposition 48: Gambling agreements with tribes. Would approve gaming compacts with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe.

So there you have it. Share your thoughts on these propositions below. Now go out there and do that voting thing, either on November 4, or if you are a mail-in voter,3and anyone can vote by mail by filling out this form by Oct 28 or selecting the option when you register to vote (updated to reflect deadlines) you can vote right now! If you still haven’t registered to vote, you can so do online now until Monday, October 20!

Update: Before you go to the polls or send in that mail-in ballot, be sure to check out your rights and responsibilities as a California voter.

Photo of man: get-a-brain-morans | Flickr - Photo Sharing! : taken from - Paul Bailey


  • Tristan Blaine

    Tristan Blaine is the founder of Law Soup Media, and has been a licensed attorney since 2013.

    About Tristan


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