California AG Writes Deceptive Description for Referendum to Modify Proposition 13

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra discusses the lawsuit his office has filed against Purdue Pharma for its painkiller Oxycontin, during a news conference, Monday, June 3, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The suit, filed against Purdue and its former president, Dr. Richard Sackler, alleges it falsely promoted the drug as not …
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has written a deceptive description to accompany Proposition 15 on the November ballot, one that hides the fact that it would partially repeal the popular Proposition 13 anti-tax measure.

The original Proposition 13 was passed by California voters in 1978 to restrict property tax increases. It was the first sign of the Reagan Revolution that was to come the following year — and the left has hated it for more than four decades.

Proposition 15 proposes to lift the restriction for commercial and industrial properties, raising taxes, while maintaining the protections of Prop 13 for residential properties — for now. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden backs Prop 15.

As Dan Walters of notes, Becerra has written a description of the referendum that obscures the fact that it is partially repealing Prop 13: “Becerra’s official title summarizes it this way: “ Increases funding for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.”

Walters notes that Becerra has also written a misleading description for Proposition 22, which would exempt ride-sharing services from being forced to make their drivers full employees under AB 5. Walters explains Becerra’s sleight of hand:

The original title that Becerra’s office placed on the measure in January, before signature-gathering began, was “Changes employment classification rules for app-based transportation and delivery workers”

The final title, posted last week, says Proposition 22 “Exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits to certain drivers and delivery workers.”

In 2018, Becerra gave a misleading title to Proposition 6, which would have repealed a new gas tax passed by Democrats. As Breitbart News reported at the time: “[O]nce Proposition 6 — the gas tax hike repeal — qualified for the state ballot, Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the initiative a misleading title, substituting “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” for “Gas Tax Repeal Initiative.”

Supporters of the initiative sued Becerra, and won in the lower court, but the decision was overturned on appeal, with the judge giving the state attorney general wide leeway in how he or she writes descriptions of ballot initiatives — despite the fact that state law requires an impartial description.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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