California Lawmakers Give Up on Their Plan to Get Rid of a Law That Says Some Public Housing Projects Need Voter Approval

California Lawmakers Give Up on Their Plan to Get Rid of a Law That Says Some Public Housing Projects Need Voter Approval

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Monday, California lawmakers gave up on trying to get rid of the nation’s only law that needs voter approval for publicly funded affordable housing projects. This law was added to the state’s Constitution more than 50 years ago to keep people of color out of white areas.

The law needs to be thrown out, and there isn’t any organized resistance to it at the state Capitol. But the bill is one of more than a dozen that will be on the ballot in November, and people who support it are worried about how they will get the millions of dollars they will need to fight for it to pass.

Because of this, lawmakers decided on Monday to drop the bill, only three days before the secretary of state has to sign off on the November election ballots.

The bill to take the measure off the ballot was written by a Democrat named Ben Allen. He said, “While (the repeal) was one of many efforts to help address the housing crisis, the November ballot will be very crowded, and reaching voters will be hard and expensive.”

California has a strong initiative process that lets people suggest and pass laws without going through the state legislature. This is done through a statewide election. Every election, there are often more than a dozen measures on the ticket, all trying to get the attention of voters.

The minimum wage would go up to $18 an hour, some drug and theft crimes would be punished more severely, and high school students would have to take a course in personal finance before they can finish this year.

Some items on the ballot have been taken away. Last week, the California Supreme Court got rid of a law that would have made it harder to raise taxes. Last week, business groups and legislative leaders came to an agreement to drop a bill that would have overturned a state law that lets workers sue their bosses for breaking the law at work.

For the remaining ballot measures, campaigns for or against them will have to spend a lot of money. These campaigns can cost $20 million or more because California has some of the most expensive media areas in the country.

Not only does voting cost a lot of money, it also comes with risks. People who back a cause may not try again for years if it fails. Three times before, in 1974, 1980, and 1993, voters turned down efforts to change or get rid of California’s housing law.

There was no racial discrimination in public housing projects after the government Housing Act was passed in 1949. This is when the housing law was made. After a year, voters approved a change to the constitution that says the government needs to get voter permission before it can use public money to build affordable housing.

After decades, California is still the only state with a rule like this. It only covers public funding for affordable housing, which people of color tend to use more than white people.

Lawyers have found ways to get around the rules over the years. They changed what a “low-rent housing project” is to include any building where more than 49% of the units are set aside for low-income people. For anything less, there is no need for an election.

Also, lawmakers passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law last year that exempted housing projects that got money from different state programs.

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