Californians vote to protect abortion in state constitution

Voters resoundingly approved a ballot measure to enshrine the right to abortion and contraception in the state constitution.

Other states were also considering measures to regulate reproductive health after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and ruled that states could decide whether to allow abortion.

Partial returns showed California’s Proposition 1 leading with 68% of the vote. Ballots for the Nov. 8 election will be counted so long as they are postmarked by Tuesday and received by county elections offices within seven days.

The measure was expected to pass, with polling showing at least two-thirds of those surveyed in support. But supporters wanted a decisive win, to send a clear message that abortion is legal and accessible in California and to encourage other states to do the same.

Big bet a bust in bid to allow sports gambling in California

The most expensive ballot proposition gamble in U.S. history went bust Tuesday as California voters overwhelmingly rejected sports betting initiatives by Native American tribes and the gaming industry.

About $460 million was raised in competing efforts to expand gambling and try to capture a share of a potential billion dollar market in the nation’s most populous state. Final contributions are still being tallied.

But voters did not want a piece of that action.

With more than 4.6 million votes counted, a measure largely supported by gaming companies that would have allowed adults to wager on mobile devices and online had only 16% support. A proposition that would have legalized sports gambling at tribal casinos and horse tracks had less than 30% support.

The money raised and spent more than doubled the record amount spent in 2020 by Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride-hailing and delivery services to prevent drivers from becoming employees eligible for benefits and job protection.

See Page 3 for more information on the status of gambling measures.

Voters approve big funding boost for arts education

California voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure backed by a celebrity lineup that included Barbra Streisand and Los Angeles-born rappers will.i.am and Dr. Dre that could pump as much as $1 billion a year from the state’s general fund into arts education.

The measure had faced no organized opposition, a rarity. With about a quarter of the ballots counted, Proposition 28 won handily with 75.8% of the vote. It will require the state to provide the equivalent of 1% of California’s state funding for public schools from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for the arts.

Supporters said it would benefit public school programs that go beyond the traditional art, theater, dance and music classes to include graphic design, computer coding, animation, music composition and script writing.

Despite California’s vibrant arts and music scene that has given the world everything from Hollywood to surf rock, fewer than a quarter of its public schools have a full-time arts or music education teacher, and some schools offer no such classes at all.

The measure will send 30% of the earmarked money to low-income school districts, which have a large number of Black and Latino students.

It was backed by everyone from Austin Beutner, the former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, to the Los Angeles County Business Federation.

Some critics had expressed concerns about earmarking more money from the state’s general fund when California faces many other challenges, from homelessness to wildfires.

Californians reject measure to alter dialysis clinic rules

For the third time in three straight elections, California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have mandated major changes to the operations of dialysis clinics that provide life-saving care to 80,000 people with kidney failure.

Proposition 29 failed after nearly 70% of Californians voted “no” in returns late Tuesday.

The measure would have required a doctor, nurse practitioner or physicians’ assistant to be present during treatment at the state’s 600 outpatient dialysis facilities.

Dialysis clinic companies said that under the mandate, between two and three doctors would be required at every facility because most are open at least 16 hours a day. That would have created a financial burden that could lead some clinics to close, making it harder for patients to find treatment, they said.

It was the third consecutive general election where Californians were asked to vote on dialysis regulations. And it was one of the most expensive ballot questions in state history. Both sides collectively spent more than $90 million this year, according to state records.

All three measures were backed by unions that represent health care workers.

California voters reject tax on rich for more electric cars

California’s wealthiest residents won’t see a tax increase after voters rejected a measure Tuesday that would have boosted rates on incomes above $2 million to help put more electric cars on the roads.

Proposition 30′s defeat marks a win for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who campaigned against it despite his administration’s moves to ban the sale of most new gas-powered cars next decade. He branded it a taxpayer-funded giveaway to rideshare companies, which under California regulations must ensure nearly all trips booked through their services are zero-emission by 2030. The rideshare company Lyft supplied most of the “yes” campaign’s funding.

The measure would have leveed a 1.75% tax on incomes above $2 million. That’s estimated to be fewer than 43,000 taxpayers in a state of nearly 40 million people. Even without that, California’s highest earners pay the highest income tax in the country, at more than 13%.

Voters approve California law banning flavored tobacco

Californians on Tuesday voted to allow a law banning flavored tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes and strawberry gummy vaping juice to go into effect.

With about a quarter of the ballots counted, Proposition 31 won handily with 76.5% of the vote.

A campaign funded by tobacco giants, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA, had effectively blocked the law passed two years ago. The $20 million campaign gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot.

Supporters of the ban, who included doctors, child welfare advocates and the state’s dominant Democratic Party, said the law was necessary to put a stop to the staggering rise in teen smoking.

Supporters of the ban said the victory will save lives and money on tobacco-related health care costs.

State Senator Ben Allen was projected to win his race against Republican Kristina Irwin and Representative Ted Lieu was also projected to win over his Republican challenger Joe Collins III. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a progressive reformer who was appointed last year and is the first Filipino to hold the job in any state, beat back a challenge from a Republican former federal prosecutor to capture a full four-year term.

Janie Har, Julie Watson, Brian Melley, Christopher Weber and Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this report. 

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