Reading the Props: 22 Would Make Uber and Lyft the Kings of the World.

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Every two years, I read the full text of all statewide ballot propositions—because at least one Californian should.

Next is Prop. 22 

In retrospect, Lex Luthor’s ambitions were modest. He only wanted Australia.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, the firms behind Prop 22, are bent on world domination. And this initiative, titled “The Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act,” is a vehicle for the sort of global takeover that not even Alexander the Greater ever dreamed of.

Reading the measure, it’s not hard to see why it’s poised to break all records for dollars spent. The companies are writing their own extensive rules and regulations, hoping to get them enacted in California, and then reproduce this model across the world. 

Prop 22 runs more than 7,000 words, and is a walking advertisement for why ballot initiatives shouldn’t spell out so many details. It goes beyond overriding AB 5 or court decisions, to list all the various policies, and to create complicated classifications for workers depending on different hours worked. They are writing the regulations and rules for their own industry.

There are limits on how many hours during a 24-hour period, an earning floor, healthcare subsidies, and insurance. The trouble is that the protections are less than state law.   

Prop 22 also goes beyond direct democracy norms in other ways.  Prop 22 would also effectively appoint its sponsors as state attorney general; its language requires and funds the appointment of independent counsel to defend the measure, if the governor and attorney general won’t. 

And Prop 22 sets a new standard for supermajorities in supermajority-mad California: a 7/8 supermajority! 7/8! That’s the fraction of the legislature you’d need to amend this measure.

But that makes sense. You can’t leave much room for actual democracy when you’re ruling the world.

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