ACWA Members Encouraged to Take Action on Proposition 53

Proposition 53 Would Undermine Local Control and Water Projects

AUGUST 30, 2016

ACWA Opposes “Cortopassi Initiative” on November Ballot Proposition 53, also known as the “Cortopassi Initiative,” will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. If approved by the voters, the measure would amend the California Constitution to require statewide voter approval of infrastructure projects financed through revenue bonds over $2 billion. Many legal experts believe the measure could impact ACWA members and the construction of vital state and local projects, including water storage, recycling facilities and other projects.

ACWA’s Board of Directors voted in July 2015 to oppose the measure, citing its potential to undermine local control and restrict critical infrastructure projects in the future. ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn is one of three signatories to the ballot argument opposing the measure. Others include representatives of the California Professional Firefighters Association and the Office of Emergency Services.

Proponents of the measure and its sponsor, Delta landowner Dean Cortopassi, say Proposition 53 is aimed at giving voters a say before state government incurs large amounts of new debt. It is widely believed, however, that the measure targets a specific state project designed to improve water conveyance in the Delta. The measure is written in such a way that it could affect local projects pursued by joint powers authorities.

ACWA distributed a toolkit in July to brief members on Proposition 53 and assist them with educating key audiences. It is permissible for public agencies to take a position on a ballot measure, and to provide balanced, educational materials to the public on the measure, its potential impacts and the agencies’ position. Materials and guidelines on permissible activities are available at

Thus far, several ACWA member agencies have passed resolutions in opposition to Proposition 53, and several more have placed a resolution on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. ACWA encourages members to take a formal position on the measure.

Suggested Actions to Take

*   Have your board of directors adopt a resolution in opposition to Proposition 53. A sample resolution is included.

*   Forward your board’s resolution to ACWA by emailing it to Marie Meade at mariem[at] ACWA will then forward your resolution to the campaign opposing the measure so your agency can be added to the list of Proposition 53 opponents.

*   Report your board’s action in an article in your agency’s customer newsletter and on your website. A sample article is included.

*   Prepare a press release to distribute to local media outlets. A sample press release is included.

*   Use balanced, educational materials on Proposition 53 to inform the community at public meetings or in community presentations when asked.

Materials Available for Use

ACWA has prepared a communications toolkit for use in public education on Proposition 53. These tools offer a balanced perspective on the initiative, outlining its content and possible impact as described by the impartial Legislative Analyst’s Office and the state Department of Finance.

The toolkit includes:

*   A fact sheet

*   A sample resolution

*   A sample website/newsletter article

*   A sample news release

*   Guidelines on permissible actions by local agencies

*   Talking points that can be customized with local examples

*   Pro and con arguments about Proposition 53

The complete toolkit is available here. Member login is required.

Other Resources

Here is a link to a website offering opponents’ views on the measure

Here is a link to a website offering proponents’ views on the measure


Please feel free to contact ACWA Director of Communications Lisa Lien-Mager at (916) 441-4545 with any questions about the communications toolkit or Proposition 53.





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