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The California Effect: 2022 Election Cycle Will Be More Important Across the Nation

Ballot Initiatives on varied issues as Medical Insurance Claims, Plastic Waste Recycling, Expanded Sports Betting, and Decriminalizing Psilocybin could change the landscape of laws nationwide.


Since the 80’s, we’ve seen California’s continued rise in influence as more and more states have followed its lead on state-level ballot initiatives. The proposed 2022 ballot measures currently have (3) that have qualified, (6) are currently seeking signatures, and (23) are pending review by the Attorney General’s office. California’s position as the progressive legislative trendsetter has spanned several decades, exemplified by the 1978 passage of Prop 13 (property tax initiative), the overwhelming support for marijuana reform in the last couple decades, and the nationwide watch of the passage of Prop 22 two years ago. California’s influence in trends and future legislation and regulations as well as cultural shifts is unquestionable.


California once again is breaking new ground, and may set a trend that other states will follow. Similar to 2020, Gig working companies “called Prop 22’s passage a win for workers, but it should be viewed as a cynical circumvention of the legislative process and a $200 million warning to those who would oppose them. Almost immediately, the gig companies promised to begin replicating the law in other states,” noted the New York Times in November of 2020.


The (3) three initiatives that we know have qualified and will definitely appear on the 2022 ballot in California are focused on revising tort legislation, disincentivizing the use of single-use plastics and foodware, and expanding upon Indigenous-owned gambling services. It is important to understand the effects of these ballot initiatives on a broader scale and the effects that they will have on important stakeholders that make up the largest portion of California voters.


The first initiative is a version of tort reform that removes the cap on payouts to medical negligence victims. Increased medical payouts would likely cause a spike in health insurance costs, disproportionately affecting low-income individuals – most of whom are people of color, and we are sure to see an increase of uninsured Californians. The second initiative, helps all communities through its incentive to reduce single-use plastic waste and fund local environmental programs. The third initiative sits in a moral gray area. On one hand, gambling businesses have empowered Indigenous communities – a marginalized community disproportionately made up of low-income individuals – and expanded Indigenous businesses. However, gambling businesses benefit a small portion of the native American community, not the vast majority. Ultimately it will be up to the voters to decide what should be the priority.



Qualified Initiatives

The following links to the qualified initiatives on the November 2022 ballot:

19-0018A1: Adjusts limitations in medical negligence cases

This statute would remove the current $250,000 limit that victims can receive in medical negligence cases. While this may seem beneficial at face value – after all, patients subject to medical negligence have been put at risk by their trusted healthcare providers and should receive financial compensation.

19-0028A1: Requires state regulations to reduce plastic waste, tax producers of single-use plastics, and fund recycling and environmental programs

This statute would require that single-use plastic waste be turned into multi-use plastics, so as to reduce daily plastic waste. It would also put a tax on single-use plastics, which would likely generate billions in revenue annually for the state to invest in recycling, environmental, and water supply initiatives.

19-0029A1: Authorizes new types of gambling

This amendment would enable privately-owned, Indigenous-owned horse-racing tracks to offer sports wagering with a 10% tax on profits, thus allowing for the expansion of minority businesses. The setback with this is the potential for increased regulatory costs; however, this cost may be offset by the state revenues sports wagering would offer the state.


Initiatives in Circulation for Signatures:

The following initiatives are in signature circulation. In order to qualify for the November 2022 ballot the proponents must collect signatures equal to at least 8% of the total votes cast for the office of Governor at the last gubernatorial election, this is approximately 1 million signatures:

Decriminalizes psilocybin mushrooms

This statute would decriminalize psilocybin hallucinogens for Californians over the age of 21.

Amends child dependency and custody hearing procedures

This statute would require that “allegations against parents or guardians” be proven “’beyond a reasonable doubt’” in court. Additionally, it states that a jury should make the decision of whether or not a child should return to their parents’ custody.

Prohibits involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime

This statute would require the California State Constitution to ban involuntary servitude as a means of punishment.

Requires earth sustainability training in public schools

This statute would mandate that all public school students and teachers receive 30 hours of Earth sustainability training every two years. The requirements for this training are that they must “expand on the level of knowledge students previously had and incorporate hands-on learning.”

Allows for jury trials in child-custody and dependent-child determinations

This statute would allow parties in child-custody cases to elect if they prefer a jury over a judge to “determine who receives legal custody of the child.” This may prevent the rejection of joint-custody appeals.

Limits state and local officials’ authority to respond to public health emergencies

This statute would bar state and local officials from “issuing enforceable orders, regulations, or ordinances to address public health emergencies (resulting from epidemics, infectious disease outbreaks, and similar conditions)” so as to protect personal liberties.


Initiatives Under Review:

The following initiatives have been developed by a number of special interest stakeholders and advocacy groups in the state. The text and legality of the initiatives are now under review by the California Secretary of State and the California Attorney General’s office. It is expected that only a small percentage of these will make it to the circulations stage of the initiative process. Some that are backed by monied interests that may be make the ballot are:

  1. Protect the Lives of Dialysis Patients Act (this initiative has been on the ballot twice before in the last 4 years and it is funded by union backed organizations)

  2. Education Savings Act of 2022 (supported by former Trump administration officials, they are well funded and may be able to get signatures)

  3. Water Infrastructure Funding Act (supported by wealthy farmers and environmental business interests, this could make it to the ballot)

  4. Housing Affordability and Tax Cut Act (supported by business and real estate interests, and wealthy San Diego groups, this may have a chance to reach the ballot. There are questions however, about its legality)


The full list of initiatives under review:

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