The November general election is rapidly approaching. This election will surely be one most of us will not forget anytime soon. Not only will it perhaps be the most consequential presidential election of our era, but also, with the ongoing pandemic, will be one of the most unusual for most of our lifetimes. On a personal level, it will have special meaning for me as the first election I will practice my right to vote. Earlier this year, pre-pandemic, I became a U.S. citizen and I am excited to join the many millions in having their voices heard.
In June, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order ensuring all registered voters will be mailed a ballot. The order did not replace in-person voting. Secretary of State Alex Padilla has stressed his commitment to providing as many in-person voting sites as possible. Just last week, the governor signed a new law to let counties offer fewer in-person polling places in exchange for opening the sites earlier. Polling places will be open from Saturday, Oct. 31, through Nov. 2 for at least eight hours each day and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Counties will also be required to open one ballot drop-off location for every 15,000 registered voters for 28 days before the election.
By now, most of us should know the candidates, from local to presidential. But how many of us know of the important ballot measures our state will face? Twelve ballot measures qualified, ranging from stem cell research, to privacy laws, classifying independent contractors and affirmative action.
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce took positions on five of the 12 they deemed business-related and that the SCV business community needed to closely look at. Here’s a quick summary and where the chamber officially stands:
PROPOSITION 15: SPLIT ROLL — OPPOSE
Increases funding for K-12 public schools, community colleges, and local governments by requiring that commercial and industrial real property be taxed based on current market value. Exempts from this change: residential properties; agricultural properties; and owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less. Increased education funding will supplement existing school funding guarantees. Exempts small businesses from personal property tax; for other businesses, exempts $500,000 worth of personal property.
PROPOSITION 19: PROPERTY TAX BREAKS AND CLOSING THE “LEBOWSKI LOOPHOLE” (ACA 11) — SUPPORT
Allow homeowners who are over 55, disabled or victims of natural disaster to take a portion of their property tax base with them when they sell their home and buy a new one. It would also limit the ability of new homeowners who inherit properties to keep their parents’ or grandparents’ low property tax payments. Most of the additional money raised would go into a state fire response fund.
PROPOSITION 21: RENT CONTROL — OPPOSE
Amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Allows rent increases on rent-controlled properties of up to 15% over three years from previous tenant’s rent above any increase allowed by local ordinance. Exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent-control policies. In accordance with state law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords’ right to a fair financial return on property.
PROPOSITION 22: SELF-EMPLOYMENT FOR RIDE-HAIL AND OTHER APP-DRIVERS — SUPPORT
Establishes different criteria for determining whether app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers are “employees” or “independent contractors.” Independent contractors are not entitled to certain state-law protections afforded employees — including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Instead, companies with independent-contractor drivers will be required to provide specified alternative benefits, including minimum compensation and health care subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training and sexual harassment policies. Restricts local regulation of app-based drivers; criminalizes impersonation of such drivers; requires background checks.
PROPOSITION 24: STRONGER CONSUMER PRIVACY LAWS — OPPOSE
Permits consumers to: (1) prevent businesses from sharing personal information; (2) correct inaccurate personal information; and (3) limit businesses’ use of “sensitive personal information” — such as precise geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion; genetic data; union membership; private communications; and certain sexual orientation, health, and biometric information. Changes criteria for which businesses must comply with these laws. Prohibits businesses’ retention of personal information for longer than reasonably necessary. Triples maximum penalties for violations concerning consumers under age 16. Establishes California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce and implement consumer privacy laws and impose administrative fines. Requires adoption of substantive regulations.
To assist our full community, the chamber has launched its Election Watch 2020 page on www.scvchamber.com to give you full access on all issues that may affect our community. You can see its official position on ballot measures, upcoming candidate forums, and candidate endorsements.
The page is intended to educate the voter, not sway in any direction. As mentioned above, when titles are misconstrued on the ballot, and a majority of voters don’t look into the summary or do their research, the chamber’s Election Watch 2020 page is intended to streamline the process for you, in a non-partisan way. Official summaries and background information are made readily available for voters to access and know exactly what they are voting for.
Small businesses are the backbone to our economy. Let’s make sure we vote in favor of them this November to ensure their continued success, especially after the economic downfall our business community faced given the global pandemic.
With all this being said, I couldn’t be more excited about participating in this election. I hope everyone joins, whether safely in person or via vote-by-mail. With everything going on, people keep asking the question, “Which side of history are you going to be on?” I think the bigger question is, “Are you going to be a part of history?”
Ivan Volschenk is managing partner of Evolve Business Strategies, which manages the SCV Chamber of Commerce.