California voters have approved drivers who work for companies like Lyft and Uber to be classified as “contract workers” rather than as “employees,” but rejected allowing diversity as a factor in public employment, among the variety of state propositions that were considered in the 2020 general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3

Prop. 22, which exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits to certain drivers, received a ‘yes’ vote of 58.4% as opposed to a ‘no’ vote of 41.6%. A majority was all that was needed for passage.

Voters also approved Propositions 14, 17, 19, and 24. 

Prop. 16, which would have allowed diversity to be a factor in public employment, education and contracting decisions, received a 56.1 percent ‘no’ vote, with 43.9% voting ‘yes.’

Other measures receiving a majority ‘no’ vote included Propositions 15, 18, 20, 21, 23 and 25.

Voters also appeared to approve a charter amendment requiring that a minimum of 10% of the county’s unrestricted general funds be spent on housing, mental health treatment, jail diversion programs and other alternatives to incarceration.

With initial vote-counting from Tuesday’s election complete, Measure J had the support of 57% of voters and a lead of nearly 4,000 votes. An unknown number of ballots still remain to be tallied, and mail-in ballots can still be counted if they’re received as late as Nov. 20, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

Proponents — including the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party — dubbed the measure Re-Imagine L.A. County and say it is essential to correcting racial injustices.

“Measure J answers county voters’ call for true structural change by ensuring through a charter amendment that dollars from existing county funds are dedicated to the priority programs and services our Black and Brown communities need for an equitable future,” said Eunisses Hernandez, co-chair of Yes on Measure J. “Measure J invests in jobs, rather than jails; in people, rather than punishment; and in mental health rather than incarceration.”

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in August to put the charter amendment on the ballot after a contentious debate in which the county’s longtime chief executive officer pushed the board to reconsider, saying setting such a budget restriction “establishes a perilous precedent.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the board’s sole dissenter. She echoed the CEO’s argument that it would unnecessarily hamstring future boards — whose priorities may change — and make it harder for the county to manage economic downturns. However, she also said the board is already meeting the proposition’s 10% threshold.

“We don’t need a charter to tell us how to do it. We are doing it,”Barger said.

The CEO’s office estimates that $360 million to $496 million could be reallocated under the measure once it is fully phased in.

“We asked voters if they believed, as the Supervisors do, that now is the time to expand funding so that we can help more people move from custody, homelessness, and instability to long-term stability and care, and they said, resoundingly, yes!’’ Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said Wednesday, Nov. 4.

“Measure J is a significant long-term step in gradually shifting county taxpayer dollars in a direction consistent with the public’s wishes and the board’s vision for improving community health, safety and opportunity.”

Supervisor Hilda Solis also expressed her gratitude for the result.

“LA County voters know that maintaining the status quo to address homelessness, mental illness, and substance use disorders is unacceptable,” she said. “... Voters chose to support Measure J to reinvest resources, for those who have been systemically oppressed and neglected, by advancing alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice through investing in the community. ... I said before, ‘What’s so frightening about putting this in front of the voters and having them decide?’

“It looks like they have. I thank the voters for supporting a ‘care first, jail last’ approach, and look forward to co-creating with them,” Solis said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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