High-profile ballot measures to expand rent control on apartments and roll back recent taxes on gasoline were rejected by California voters Tuesday, while billions of dollars in new borrowing were authorized and state lawmakers were given permission to pursue an effort to enact year-round daylight saving time.
In vote tallies reported through Wednesday afternoon, a majority of the 11 statewide propositions appeared headed for passage. Under state law, none of the proposed laws can take effect until election results are certified early next month.
Supporters of the two marquee measures on the statewide ballot, on rent control and gas taxes, saw their proposals soundly rejected.
Proposition 10 would have repealed a state law that, for more than two decades, has prohibited cities and counties from imposing most forms of new rent control. After a campaign in which opponents — predominantly groups representing California landlords — outspent supporters 3 to 1, and more than $100 million was spent overall, voters appeared to oppose the initiative decisively. The result would leave in place local restrictions on rent control policies.
Proposition 10 was soundly rejected by almost 62% of voters. Should that margin hold, it will be one of the most lopsided defeats for an initiative in recent years.
A closer but still unsuccessful campaign was waged for Proposition 6, which would have repealed a recent increase in the state gas tax and vehicle fees. The infusion of some $5.2 billion in new revenues is earmarked to repair California’s roads and bridges and bolster mass transit.
Critics wrote the ballot measure in hopes that voters would repeal the tax signed into law in 2017 by Gov. Jerry Brown. Proposition 6 would have also amended California’s Constitution to require that future fuel taxes be approved in a statewide election. But vote tallies showed the measure rejected by 55% of voters.
Proposition 6 was put on the ballot through funding from the California Republican Party and GOP congressional leaders.. But backers failed to provide substantial financial help to the campaign after the measure qualified. As a result, supporters were significantly outspent by a $43-million opposition campaign bankrolled by Democrats, the construction industry and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Voters handily approved two bond measures, with a third narrowly leading in early returns and a fourth trailing. In all, the bonds proposed more than $16 billion for projects ranging from affordable housing to improvements at children’s hospitals across California. The largest, Proposition 3, would dedicate $8.9 billion for water projects, including $750 million to repair water delivery systems in the Central Valley and $200 million to help fix the state-owned Oroville Dam, which faced severe storm damage in 2017. But the measure was rejected by 52% of voters in the latest unofficial returns.
Proposition 4, which authorizes up to $1.5 billion in new borrowing to improve children’s hospitals, was winning easily.
The combined $6 billion approved in Propositions 1 and 2 represents the largest single infusion of state dollars to help finance low-income housing in more than a decade, at a time when Californians are seeing a jump in housing costs and homelessness.
Two ballot proposition campaigns either mirrored or extended battles fought in the Legislature in 2018.
Proposition 8, which became the most expensive ballot fight in California history, won just 38% of the vote in returns counted through late Wednesday. The proposal would have required dialysis clinics to provide rebates to insurers and pay a penalty on business revenues that exceed 115% of certain costs to deliver care.
The dialysis industry spent $110 million against Proposition 8. Opponents argued it would force cutbacks at dialysis centers. In all, the measure marked the latest battle between a union and the industry it has struggled to organize.
Proposition 11, a failed legislative effort to require ambulance workers to remain oncall during their meal and rest breaks, found strong approval Tuesday. The measure ensures the industry isn’t subject to a recent California Supreme Court ruling that mandates rest breaks for security personnel and could have been applied to emergency crews.
The only other ballot measure with enough support for a visible statewide campaign, one to impose new rules on farm animal confinement, appeared to pass with little problem. Proposition 12 imposes a ban, starting in 2020, on the sale of eggs from hens confined to an area with less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per animal.
Proposition 12 was proposed by the Humane Society of the United States. But the measure drew opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — which split with other animal rights groups — and the Humane Farming Assn., which said the initiative would not go far enough in helping hens, pigs and calves.
Two other statewide ballot measures hardly registered on California’s political radar in the weeks leading up to Tuesday. Proposition 5, an effort by the California Assn. of Realtors to extend property tax breaks for homeowners 55 and older, was defeated . It was opposed by labor unions and local governments who feared the measure would deplete tax revenues and the public services they pay for.
And then there was Proposition 7, which was embraced by 60% of the votes in unofficial returns. It was crafted by the Legislature to set the stage for a future switch to permanent daylight saving time. Because the biannual changing of the clocks was memorialized by the state’s voters in 1949, any change to the system requires a new statewide proposal.
Proposition 7 gives the Legislature the power to adopt a single system of marking time, but would not allow daylight saving time to be the system of choice unless Congress permits states to do so. Lawmakers conceded the plan was more advisory than action-oriented, as there have been no signs from Washington that such a change is in the works.
Times staff writers Liam Dillon, Patrick McGreevy and Taryn Luna contributed to this report.