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Journal of No. 118


September 19th, 2016

California Propositions 2016 @ 07:31 pm


Assuming you remember what phonebooks are, my fellow Californicators will be getting one for the ballot initiatives soon. Here's my regular dose of opinions to help influence the votes of people who don't want to do the research, thus magnifying my democratic power. Remarkably, I'm split exactly 50/50 on Yes/No, with one strong Maybe.

51 - SCHOOL BONDS. FUNDING FOR K–12 SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE FACILITIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

$9 billion in bonds for schools. Bonds are not a great way to fund anything. This plan does not seem to be very focused. There's no doubt there's a need, but I don't like this solution. Neither does Governor Moonbeam. Nope.

52 - MEDI‐CAL HOSPITAL FEE PROGRAM. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Seems like a messy shell game to get hospitals to pay fees to the state that are given back to the hospitals with matching federal funds. But it seems to work, and the NO argument (that this money is going straight to the fatcat CEOs) is just baloney. So if ain't broke, fix it in place permanently. Yes.

53 - REVENUE BONDS. STATEWIDE VOTER APPROVAL. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

"Under the California Constitution, state general obligation bonds need voter approval before the state can use them to pay for a project. State revenue bonds do not need voter approval under existing state law." This prop would change the latter so that revenue bonds (over $2 billion) would need voter approval. While I'm tempted to have another way to partially veto the Monorail high speed rail, I don't see this additional oversight being helpful. Nope.

54 - LEGISLATURE. LEGISLATION AND PROCEEDINGS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Aren't there enough roadblocks to getting things done? Adding a 'waiting period' for legislation seems unnecessary. I mean, best case scenario, evil law is proposed, and in 72 hours, someone's change.org petition gets a bajillion signatures, convincing the legislature to not pass it. Anything that wicked will get erased off the books under the present system. Worst case scenario, legislators (and their shadowy funders) will add amendment after amendment to bills, each one taking an additional 72 hours of waiting before a vote ever takes place. Nope.

55 - TAX EXTENSION TO FUND EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

Extends 'temporary' extra income tax on $250K+ taxpayers (Prop 30 in 2012) for another 12 years. Ooh, I'm really torn. If we could extend it maybe 6 years, I'd feel better. We could use some extra juice for the rainy day fund, and to really make use of the budget surplus to eliminate debt. I favored the more balanced prop 38 that would have raised everyone's taxes temporarily. Ummm. Eat the rich! Strong Maybe!

56 - CIGARETTE TAX TO FUND HEALTHCARE, TOBACCO USE PREVENTION, RESEARCH, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Triples the state tobacco tax (and adds equivalent tax to e-cigs). Most of the funding goes to healthcare or the existing programs funded by cigarette taxes. My favorite negative effect of the prop: "state and local governments would experience future health care and social services costs that otherwise would not have occurred as a result of individuals who avoid tobacco‐related diseases living longer." A pretty punitive tax, but I really hate that cluster of millennials smoking on the sidewalk when I walk by at lunch time. Yes.

57 - CRIMINAL SENTENCES. PAROLE. JUVENILE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AND SENTENCING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Allows parole hearings a bit sooner for certain 'non violent' felons than is currently the case. Despite the doom and gloom of the NO argument, all of these people will get parole hearings, and the parole board will decide whether it's safe to let them out, and when. I don't see any legitimate drawbacks here. Yes.

58 - ENGLISH PROFICIENCY. MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Provides schools with more flexibility in establishing bilingual education programs, erasing some of prop 227. The goal is still to get students proficient in English. Schools should have more flexibility in order to find out what works. Yes.

59 - CORPORATIONS. POLITICAL SPENDING. FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS. LEGISLATIVE ADVISORY QUESTION.

A grandstanding advisory vote calling on California officials to work to undo Citizens United through Constitutional Amendment. Entirely futile, but yes.

60 - ADULT FILMS. CONDOMS. HEALTH REQUIREMENTS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

"Cal/OSHA Already Requires Adult Film Condom Use" (Not that compliance is 100%)
"Allows Individuals to Bring Lawsuits on Regulatory Violations."
I'll join Dan Savage in voting no.

61 - STATE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PURCHASES. PRICING STANDARDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

"would require all prescription drugs purchased by the State of California to be priced at or below the price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which pays by far the lowest price of any federal agency. "

This is why you see tearful veterans on the commercials urging a no vote, followed by the tenth of second summary of major contributors like Pfizer and Merck.

On the other hand, the drug companies don't have to sell us discount drugs. And yes, they could decide to raise prices on vets. Because of all the moving parts, and inevitable squabbling and lawsuits, I'm leaning towards No. I don't think this is the solution to the prescription drug price problem.

62 - DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Eliminates the death penalty (and resentences current death row inmates to life without possibility of parole). "These reduced costs would likely be around $150 million annually within a few years." Yes.

63 - FIREARMS. AMMUNITION SALES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

"Requires individuals to obtain a four-year permit from DOJ to buy ammunition ... Allows DOJ to charge each person applying for a four-year permit a fee of up to $50"

Really? I'm sure the laudable intent is to stop bad guys with stolen guns from getting ammunition, but as much as I'd like better gun laws, I don't think I can go this far. The legislature acted in July: "Specifically, under the legislation: (1) ammunition dealers would be required to check with DOJ that individuals seeking to buy ammunition are not prohibited persons at the time of purchase and (2) DOJ could generally charge such individuals up to $1 per transaction." That seems far more reasonable than what the proposition is calling for; and it is already law. No.

64 - MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

I don't like smoking (see 56), but it's definitely time to end our reefer madness. The bigger tax base and the effect on 'crime' are icing on the cake.

65 - CARRYOUT BAGS. CHARGES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Directs 'fees' for paper bags at grocery stores to state environmental purposes. Currently these fees are just kept by the stores. Now, the bags cost the store something, so it's hardly fair to take all the money away from them. But then again, why do they benefit from our green awareness? If this is really a necessary source of revenue for retailers... they'll just raise prices on other things. And then this proposition is just a tax to support the environment. Which I guess is okay. Hmm. I really don't care all that much. I'm gonna just go with No, and whenever people point to California as being unfriendly to business, I'll point to how they get to freeload off our bag fees. See also 67.

66 - DEATH PENALTY. PROCEDURES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

"In addition, the measure changes how attorneys are appointed for direct appeals under certain circumstances. Currently, the California Supreme Court appoints attorneys from a list of qualified attorneys it maintains. Under the measure, certain attorneys could also be appointed from the lists of attorneys maintained by the Courts of Appeal for non-death penalty cases. Specifically, those attorneys who (1) are qualified for appointment to the most serious non-death penalty appeals and (2) meet the qualifications adopted by the Judicial Council for appointment to death penalty cases would be required to accept appointment to direct appeals if they want to remain on the Courts of Appeal’s appointment lists."

Death penalty cases are not like other cases. This prop is trying to grease the wheels by appointing unqualified lawyers to 'defend' poor inmates (and they can't refuse). Just no.

67 - BAN ON SINGLE–USE PLASTIC BAGS. REFERENDUM.

Enacts a statewide ban on plastic bags (similar to that which already exists where I live). I think it's been a good thing on the whole. Make it so, statewide. Yes.
 
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Journal of No. 118