1990 - 1999
1990 - Term Limits
Proposition 140, a citizens' initiative, limits lifetime tenure in the Assembly to three terms of two years and in the Senate to two four-year terms after the 1990 elections. (Senators who are halfway through their four-year terms in 1990 are permitted only one additional term.) State constitutional officers are limited to two terms of four years each. Proposed 140 reduces legislative spending by about 38 percent and imposes a cap on increases. The measure is upheld in the federal courts. (Approved by 52.2 percent of voters.)
1994 - Three Strikes
Two virtually identical versions of a "Three Strikes" law are adopted by the Legislature and by voter initiative to require sentences of 25 years to life in prison upon conviction of a third felony if the previous two were serious or violent. It's the toughest sentencing law in the country.
1996 - Affirmative Action
By a vote of 54.5 percent, Californians approve Proposition 209, a citizens' initiative to amend the state Constitution to prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity or gender in public education, employment and contracting. The previous year, the Board of Regents voted to end racial, ethnic and gender considerations in admissions and hiring at the University of California over the objections of the UC president, the chancellors of the nine campuses, and faculty and student organizations. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 lets stand an appellate court ruling that Proposition 209 is constitutional.
1996 - Class-size reduction
The Legislature and Governor Wilson enact the Class Size Reduction Program with the goal of limiting public-school classes from kindergarten through third grade to no more than 20 students. The state provides $530 million in grants to school districts to pay for portable classrooms and other costs associated with creating more classrooms.
1999 - Domestic Partnership and Gay Rights
Domestic partnerships are recognized as household relationships, with some legal effects, between same-sex adults of any age and between persons of opposite sexes over age 62. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is outlawed in housing, workplaces, and educational institutions.