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California Democratic Party endorses ballot measures on same-sex marriage, taxes, rent control

Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

California Democratic Party leaders at their annual executive board convention this weekend took positions on a host of statewide measures that will — or may — appear on the November ballot.

In a state where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, state party backing will be a boon for endorsed propositions during the costly campaign slog ahead.

Party stances were recommended during a sometimes contentious committee meeting that sprawled through most of Saturday afternoon, with high-profile speakers including civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles appearing to throw their support behind certain measures. The party officially endorsed their choices in a vote Sunday morning.

Party leaders backed Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1, a measure put on the ballot by Democrats in the state Legislature that will ask voters whether to lower the vote threshold on new taxes and bonds that increase funding for affordable housing and public infrastructure projects.

California currently requires approval from two-thirds of voters on certain special tax increases and bond measures. This amendment would lower that threshold to 55% for approving new special taxes and bonds for local affordable housing and public infrastructure projects.

The party also supported Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which would amend the state constitution to remove outdated language from Proposition 8, passed by California voters in 2008, that characterizes marriage as being between a man and a woman — and reaffirm the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The outdated state definition has been deemed unenforceable and unconstitutional thanks to federal law, but LGBTQ+ advocacy groups are asking voters to repeal it and amend the California Constitution to explicitly state that marriage is "a fundamental right."

The state party voted to support Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13, a third measure put on the ballot by the Democratic-led Legislature. This measure is a response to a business-led initiative to make it harder to pass new taxes in California.


If passed, Amendment 13 would require ballot initiatives that seek to increase the voter threshold on statewide measures to meet that same higher bar in order to take effect (so, if a measure seeks to raise the voter approval threshold from 50% to a two-thirds majority, that measure would also have to pass with a two-thirds majority in order to take effect).

The party also took positions on a number of measures that have gathered the signatures necessary to be eligible for the November ballot but won't officially qualify until the state's late June deadline. The party voted to:

• Endorse a contentious AIDS Healthcare Foundation-sponsored measure that would repeal a major restriction on rent control. Approval came after a lengthy debate, with opponents raising fears about the measure being a "Trojan horse" that would undermine new housing construction.

• Endorse a referendum challenging a 2022 law that prohibits new oil and gas wells near homes, schools and hospitals — in effect, the party endorsed keeping the law.

• Oppose an initiative that would replace the Private Attorneys General Act, a unique state law that lets California workers who believe they have been victims of wage theft or other workplace abuses sue employers on behalf of themselves and other workers.

• Oppose a controversial business-backed initiative dubbed the "Taxpayer Deception Act" by opponents and the "Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act" by its advocates.

• Endorse initiatives that would add a one-semester personal finance course to high school requirements and raise the minimum wage to $18 per hour.

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