By now, you’ve probably seen a blitz of TV ads related to Prop. 45. Depending on the ad, they talk about political power grabs, hospitals kicking patients out of beds and some vague references to insurance rates. If  you deduced from any of those that the measure is about letting the state insurance commissioner approve changes to health insurance rates, then you are a deeply gifted political scare-speak translator.

Prop. 45 is just one of six measures on the Nov. 4 ballot, and in the absence of any show-stopping measures or races this cycle, no one has paid much attention to any of them.

But don’t fear, we’ve put together a brief guide to the statewide measures on the ballot. (We’re only looking at the ones currently slated for the November ballot. Two measures, Props. 43 and 49, were pulled.) For more information, visit the official state voter guide.


Prop. 1

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Image via Shutterstock

What it would do: Authorize the state to sell $7.1 billion in bonds, and redirect $425 million in unsold bonds previously approved by voters to pay for water infrastructure projects like surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection and watershed restoration.

Who supports it: Gov. Jerry Brown, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Nature Conservancy, the California Republican Party, the California Democratic Party and a whole host of other organizations support Prop. 1 because California is in a severe drought and has aging infrastructure.

Who opposes it: Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Southern California Watershed Alliance, Restore the Delta and other groups say the measure focuses too much on building new dams and that historically new dams have been paid for in California through the water rates of its beneficiaries, not by the state.

Required reading: California water bond won’t be a drought-buster (Associated Press)


Prop. 2


What would it do: Create new rules for state budget reserves, likely resulting in state debts to be paid faster. Specifically, Prop. 2 would require the annual transfer of 1.5 percent of state revenues to a special “budget stabilization account,” half of which would have to be used to repay state debts and unfunded liabilities. It also requires an additional transfer to the stabilization account when personal capital gains tax revenues exceeds 8 percent of state general fund revenues. Prop. 2 caps the size of the stabilization account at 10 percent of general fund revenues, directing the remainder to infrastructure projects.

Who supports it: Gov. Jerry Brown, the California Chamber of Commerce, League of California Cities, the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party and others say Prop. 2 will bring stability to California’s budget by establishing, once and for all, a strong rainy day fund to save money during the flush times and to pay down debts.

Who opposes it: The group Educate Our State and a handful of others oppose Prop. 2 on the grounds that it redirects money away from schools to the budget stabilization account. They maintain that Prop. 2 “soaks” schoolchildren in good times when Californians have an expectation that schools should be a funding priority.

Required reading: Proposition 2: The Latest Attempt to Fix California’s Unpredictable Budget” (Governing mag)


Prop. 45

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Image via Shutterstock

What would it do: Authorizes the state insurance commissioner to approve changes to health insurance rates before they may take effect. Currently state regulators may review, but not approve, such changes.

Who supports it: The California Nurses Association, Consumer Watchdog, the California Democratic Party, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and others say Prop. 45 will curtail excessive health insurance rate hikes by extending protections the state already has in place for auto insurance rates.

Who opposes it: The California Chamber of Commerce, the California Republican Party, the California Medical Association, the California Association of Health Underwriters and many others claim that Prop. 45 gives one politician too much power, creates more bureaucracy, interferes with consumers’ health care and will result in costly lawsuits.

Required reading: Battle over Proposition 45 a blast from the past (San Jose Mercury News)


Prop. 46

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Image via Shutterstock

What would it do: Makes several changes related to health provider conduct and patient safety, including requiring hospitals to administer drug and alcohol tests on their doctors, requiring doctors to consult a database intended to reduce prescription drug abuse before prescribing to a new patient and raising medical malpractice damages for pain and suffering from $250,000 to $1.1 million.

Who supports it: Consumer Watchdog, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Erin Brockovich, Consumer Attorneys of California and others say Prop. 46 will protect patients and save lives by holding bad doctors accountable and by cracking down on prescription drug abuse.

Who opposes it: The California Medical Association, the California Republican Party, the Service Employees International Union and many others oppose Prop. 46, saying that it would increase health care costs while endangering patient privacy and access to doctors.

Required reading: Prop. 46: East Bay family’s tragedy sparks clash of special-interest titans (Contra Costa Times)


Prop. 47


What would it do: Reduces the penalties, including the length of jail time, for non-serious, non-violent drug and property crimes while allocating the cost savings to addressing school truancy and dropout rates.

Who supports it: California Democratic Party, American Civil Liberties Union of California, former San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice  and many others say Prop. 47 focuses law enforcement dollars on serious and violent crimes while helping the schools.

Who opposes it: California Police Chiefs Association, Crime Victims United, California District Attorneys Association, the California Republican Party and others call Prop. 47 dangerous and radical and say it will make felons eligible for early release.

Required reading: California Voters to Decide on Sending Fewer Criminals to Prison (New York Times)


Prop. 48

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Image via Shutterstock

What would it do: Ratifies a tribal gaming compact with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe, which would allow North Fork to build and operate a new, off-reservation casino in Madera County. In turn, North Fork would be required to make payments to state and local governments, Wiyot and others. (Note: Prop. 48 is a referendum, meaning a “yes” vote indicates you support the casino project.)

Who supports it: Gov. Jerry Brown,the  California Democratic Party, Madera County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Wheeler and others say a new casino will create jobs and generate state and local revenues.

Who opposes it: Madera County Supervisor David Rogers, Stand Up For California!, Mooretown Rancheria Tribal Chairman Gary Archuleta and others say that tribal gaming should be on reservations only and if this compact is approved it will open the floodgates for more off-reservation casinos.

Required reading: Money starts flowing in for Valley casino measure Proposition 48 (Fresno Bee)

Brian Joesph is a Voice of San Diego contributor. He has covered the state capitol for more than seven years. You can reach him at

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