State Watch

Campaigns accuse California AG of slanted descriptions of ballot initiatives

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Campaigns for four initiative measures in California are suing the state attorney general, accusing his office of slanting the descriptions of the initiatives as they will appear on November’s ballot in favor of the position that he supports, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. 

Opponents of Proposition 16, for example, said in a lawsuit that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) has written “an argument in favor” of the proposition, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The measure on the ballot would repeal Proposition 209, a 1996 initiative banning affirmative action in public university admissions and in government contracting and hiring, according to the newspaper. 

Similar complaints were reportedly made in the three other suits. The suits were filed by campaigns of four out of 12 initiatives on November’s ballot, according to the Chronicle.

Asked about the lawsuits, a spokesperson for Becerra’s office told The Hill on Monday: “Under California law, it is our job to issue official titles and summaries describing the chief purpose and points of every proposed initiative submitted in compliance with procedural requirements. We take that responsibility seriously.”

Becerra’s office told the Chronicle in an email that state law requires the attorney general to issue the official titles and summaries, adding “we take that responsibility seriously.”

Another suit is over Proposition 15, which would revise the state’s 1978 Proposition 13 to allow most commercial and industrial property to be regularly reassessed, according to the Chronicle. Opponents are reportedly unhappy with the title, which states the initiative “increases funding sources for public schools, community colleges and local government services by changing the tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.”

There is also a suit over Proposition 22, which would reverse part of a 2019 state law granting employee rights to many gig workers. Supporters of the proposition said the title and summary were “infected with the contagion of bias and hostility,” according to the Chronicle. 

The final suit is over Proposition 23, which would change the rules for kidney dialysis clinics. Opponents of the proposition argued that the title statement that the initiative “requires on-site medical professional” is wrong and misleading, according to the Chronicle. They claim the phrasing suggests there are no medical professionals at the clinics now.

Updated on Aug. 3 at 12:58 p.m.

Tags 2020 elections Ballot initiatives Cailfornia Proposition 16 Xavier Becerra
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