The Unmitigated Chutzpah Act of 2020

A hidden feature in Proposition 22 on California’s November ballot should outrage California voters, and shock many of you outside California.

Mind you, I’m not talking about the general content of the measure, which concerns whether drivers for Uber, Lyft etc. should be considered employees or independent contractors. Reasonable people might have different opinions on that.

No, instead I’m referring to paragraph 7465 of the full text:

After the effective date of this chapter, the Legislature may amend this chapter by a statute passed in each house of the Legislature by roll call vote entered into the journal, seven-eighths of the membership concurring, provided that the statute is consistent with, and furthers the purpose of, this chapter.

Not a simple majority, not 2/3rds, but 7/8ths! Outrageous, and I believe unprecedented. And that last clause may be even worse.

Furthermore, this paragraph was so buried in the text that even the measure’s leading opponents seem to have missed it. It’s not in the “Arguments Against” section of the voter’s guide put out by the CA Sec. of State.

Again, it’s not the general thrust of the measure that matters here. No law should be allowed to be that inflexible, especially if the inflexibility is so hidden, not to mention hidden by the most expensive lawyers corporate America can buy.

19 thoughts on “The Unmitigated Chutzpah Act of 2020

  1. If we had an immigration moratorium, there would be no issue with having Prop. 22. There would be plenty to go round for everyone.

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  2. Is there a California Constitutional scholar in the house? I’m surprised a statute has the power to amend the power of future legislatures to enact (or change or repeal) statutes, or change the process.

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  3. Wow, I am impressed you dug that up. My guess is it’s almost impossible to get 7/8ths of the votes in both houses unless California turns even more blue. That’s why no one else pays attention to it.

    This San Diego Union Tribute poll predicted Prop 22 will pass with 45% in favor, 31% oppose.
    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/story/2020-09-29/poll-shows-8-california-ballots-set-to-pass-in-general-election

    Even the Berkeley IGS poll reported by SF Chronicle and SJ Mercury News shows a slim lead (39% vs 36%).

    The UK Guardian reported, “A recent online poll cited by the Yes on 22 campaign found more than 60% of app-based drivers supported Prop 22.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/15/proposition-22-california-ballot-measure-explained

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    • Actually, I didn’t dig this up. I heard about it from my daughter. But yes, quite amazing. As to whether the basic prop is a good idea, again it’s hard for me to say, but no way can I vote Yes on it.

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  4. I would think provision is probably unconstitutional (both Federal and State). Don’t know of other ballot referendums that basically prohibit legislative modification that have been tested in the courts. Maybe some lawyers out there may know of some?

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  5. There is another very cunning feature in the Bill. The proposed benefits are dependent not on the time the driver spends on his or her shift, but on actual passenger time, which the Bill calls Engaged Time..Thus a driver could work 40 hours per week but record only 7 hours of “Engaged Time,.” Those drivers would not qualify for any of the benefits the Bill purports to provide.

    Even worse, the Engaged Time can be arbitrarily reduced by the app company. Even if a driver was getting a continuous stream of passengers, the app company could simply withhold alerts when the driver neared the 25 hour per week criterion, and thus deprive the driver of the mandated benefits, even though the driver devoted a much longer time on shift.

    Truly shocking.

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  6. I believe the 7/8th Majority requirement only applied to this particular proposition.
    For Example:
    Proposition 13 also contained language requiring a two-thirds (2/3) majority in both legislative houses for future increases of any state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates and sales tax rates.
    (Which was much more broad than Prop 22.)

    Voters later on lowered the threshold for Taxes relating to California Schools.

    Also despite this 2/3 requirement to raise taxes:
    Sales Tax rates vary from 7.75% to 10.5% depending on the city. So a 2/3 requirement has NOT held taxes down. Would a 3/4 requirement work? Probably not with the Blue wave that has been sweeping California.

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  7. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. If things don’t turn out as intended, another proposition can be drafted for the next election cycle to undo the current unpopular proposition. This requires a simple majority by voters and not a 7/8ths majority by the legislature.

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  8. Things passed through direct democracy are “higher” than laws, which are passed by majorities of elected representatives (who, in theory, represent the people who elected them). That’s how direct democracy works (see Switzerland). Propositions can restrict the legislature in any way since they are passed by the people. This proposition can be overturned by another proposition that gets a simple majority of CA’s people. So where is the chutzpah?

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    • Prop 22 was passed after Uber etc. spent hundreds of millions of dollars on it. They would do the same if a countermeasure were ever on the ballot, an action that itself takes huge amounts of money, so the notion that “the will of the people” would prevail here is naive.

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      • Ha. The same can be said of corporate funding of candiates and political parties and PACs. How is giving authority to the legislature any superior?

        You also seem to assume that a large majority of people care about the plight of Uber/Lyft drivers and are not addicted to Uber/Lyft’s low fares and deals.

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