The prose is a little rough around the edges, but I think I have clarity in these 17 propositions.  Sorry about that, but I’m in a feverish trial preparation of late and I just can’t put the time into this that I would prefer.  Some of these propositions are kind of complicated. If you have questions or want more detailed explanations, please ask.  I may not get to it until trial is over next week, but that leaves plenty of time before the election.

I will give you my thoughts on candidates and the local measures later.

If you want a more readable version, please let me know and I will email it to you (the formatting is better, I can’t seem to separate the paragraphs when I cut and paste from my Word program).

 

 

Proposition 51 – K-12 and community college bonds for facilities – No

 

Authorizes 9 billion for construction and modernization of school buildings – 6 billion for K-12, 2 billion for community colleges, and a billion earmarked for charter schools and vocational schools (the latter probably to sweeten the bitter pill of the charter schools for many).

Also bars amendments to exiting bond authorities until these funds are spent – meaning local districts will have to come up with 40 percent of funding for any projects. A bars amending process for allocations as they apply to these funds, and appropriates money from the general fund to pay the bonds.

Normally I would vote for a bond measure for schools.  Despite a declining enrollment statewide, we do need more buildings and to upgrade existing ones.  And we need more Keynesian pumping of money into the economy.

And believe me, I don’t feel comfortable voting along with the tax posse offering the only organized opposition to this thing.  But even less I am impressed with the developers pouring money into this thing.  Why?  Because under the existing rules, which need reform and won’t be reformed for this fund by its terms, developers who would ordinarily be required to pay for infrastructure, including schools, will be freed of such obligation while this fund persists.  It’s basically a subsidy for them.

Additionally, the 40 percent local matching funds requirement is onerous on the poorer districts, so this money will go to the more affluent districts who can afford local bond measures.

So basically the state increases its bonded debt for facilities that developers would have otherwise have to pay anyway, and it mandates that we cover the debt from the general fund.

Reform the system.  Then as a fairly typical tax and spend liberal I can get behind it.

Proposition 52 – Medi-Cal hospital fee program constitutional amendment – Yes

I’m almost tempted to vote against the measure because I really think it’s too complicated to be a ballot proposition.  Basically, there is currently a hospital fee imposed in order to meet criteria for federal funding of Medi-Cal under Obamacare.  That fee offsets costs of Medi-Cal and has been imposed since 2009 and is set to expire in 2018.  It would authorize the usage of the fees for coverage of uninsured patients and children’s health coverage.  Although the hospitals are charged fees, they enjoy a net benefit – almost doubling their return in state and federal government subsidies.

The measure would make the fee permanent and require voter approval for any major changes and allows certain amendments with a 2/3 legislative vote.

The opposition’s arguments that the funding will go into CEO salaries because there’s no accountability in the spending of the money to guarantee that the subsidies are being used for healthcare is silly.  There are other safeguards which are either effective or not. Adding another layer of bureaucracy to oversee these funds in particular would add nothing to the quality assurance.

 

Proposition 53 – Revenue bonds requiring statewide approval for projects exceeding 2 billion – No

 

Currently in order to generate bonds for revenues local governments require 2/3 voter approval (except for school bonds which were lowered to 55 percent by voters in 2000).  Those rules are for tax supported bonds.  But currently if there are bonds to be paid off by user fees or other non-tax revenue they don’t require voter approval of any kind.

If passed projects of local concern exceeding 2 billion in bonds would have to be passed by voters statewide – voters who have little or no direct interest in the project.

The rationale?  The measure is put forth by an organization with the name “Jarvis” in it, which is grounds alone for me to vote against it (those people have done more to hurt California’s economy and infrastructure than all the recessions combined).  They’re calling it the “no blank check” initiative and their argument is that if the projects fail the tax payers will have to cover the losses.  But that’s a very rare occurrence, and hardly worth creating the difficulty of a statewide proposition to every such project.

These people really just don’t want government spending on projects, even if it’s paid for.

 

Proposition 54 – sunshine to legislative proceedings and prevention of last minute changes to legislation – Yes

 

Would prohibit the passage of any bill which hasn’t been in print and posted online for at least 72 hours in final form.  Would also require audiovisual recording of all legislative proceedings not in closed session to be posted online.  Authorizes any person to record any part of any session by any means including cell phone.  Allows recordings to be used for any purposes without payment of fee to the state.

I have some reservations about the last part as they will be used for attack ads and that could be counterproductive as nobody can maintain perfect composure for every second of every proceeding.  But, you know, if the voters can’t see through that crap, there’s no way the law can protect them from themselves.  Otherwise, this is a good measure.

But it would prevent last minute dilutions of bills, or worse, proposals tied to legislation which have nothing to do with its central purpose but thrown in just for opportunity to pass something before the media and public can catch wind of it and raise a fuss.  If any changes are made in the 72 hours, then the time is extended.  If it would cause “unnecessary delays” then maybe the legislators should be better prepared.  In any case, three days is unlikely to make a huge difference, and there is an exception for certain emergencies.

The left is split on it.  It is pushed and financed by a Republican and is opposed by the Democrats.  But I have no doubt the Democrats would want such a measure in place if they ever lost power, something not likely anytime soon.  It’s opposed by the National Organization of Women and some other progressive organizations tied to the Democratic Party mainstream.  But it is supported by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Common Cause, the Planning and Conservation League, and others. And yes, it’s supported by the stupid Jarvis group, the Chamber, and a slew of other interests to which I’m often opposed.  But sunshine should benefit everyone.

 

Proposition 55 – extends 2012 state income tax increases on people earning over $500,000 per year for an additional 12 years – Yes

 

All money going to education and some of it to healthcare.  It’s a lot of money from people who can afford it.  Set to expire in 2018, this would extend the tax increase until 2030 and makes a huge difference. They’re still not being taxed the way they were taxed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  The Jarvis group and other tax posse folk are whining about “special interests” and job killing (hasn’t happened yet, don’t know why it will happen after 2018) and whatever.

No brainer.  To anyone not making over half a million a year I guess.

 

Proposition 56 – cigarette taxes – No

 

Would increase taxes by $2.00 per pack and on other tobacco including vaping.  Money goes into healthcare and tobacco use prevention and control programs.

Look, I’ve voted for these tax increases in the past because I figured that people who smoke should pay for the consequences of smoking and to keep children off the drug.  I get all that.  And we learned from the first cigarette tax increases in the 90s that the demand curve isn’t all that flexible – that despite the addiction, when you increase the price consumption does decline, and possibly fewer people are smoking as a result of the multiple tobacco tax increases we’ve passed.

But it’s a regressive tax. It hits poor people the hardest.  It encourages the black market.  And other than keeping kids off the stuff, I question whether the role of government is to alter self-destructive behavior of individuals.  I’m not against social engineering.  But I do think that the role of government should be limited to the common good and not to saving individuals from themselves.

 

Proposition 57 – Parole opportunities for non-violent offenders – Yes

 

The measure would allow for parole and early release for prison inmates who take advantage of rehabilitation services – setting up sentence credits for good behavior, rehabilitation work, or education.  It mandates that the Dept. of Corrections implement new parole and sentence correction guidelines with the admittedly kind of vague certification that they enhance public safety.  Even more vague and a hot topic of dispute is what constitutes “non-violent” in defining the crimes which are eligible.  The state currently defines violent crimes with a list and the list does not include arson, hostage taking, and a few others, and there is debate as to whether it applies to rape by intoxication – the opposition raising Brock Turner as an example of someone who would benefit (technically not possible as he was only sentenced to jail and was never a prison inmate, but theoretically possible). It’s a cheap tactic. Politifact is rating the Turner claim as “mostly false.”

First of all, earning sentence credits and being eligible for early release or parole does not mean it’s going to happen. The parole boards consider the input from the prison administrations in decisions they make now.  Because he was convicted before life without parole was a thing, Charles Manson is “eligible” for parole, meaning that periodically his file is given to the parole board and he addresses them for consideration.  But we all know that will never happen.  Likewise, the nature of the crime itself will always be considered.

But quite frankly I don’t believe that any crimes should be excluded from the process.  There should be incentives for any inmate to participate in rehabilitation services. There is plenty of discretion, and yes, if a parole board determines that an arsonist, hostage taker, or even a murderer has rehabilitated, I think it should be considered.  Considered – not automatically resulting in early release.

There is this prevalent myth that people who aren’t rehabilitated are being released because of parole.  It’s really not the case.  Most people who are released and act up are released because they had served their sentences.  Maybe if they had undergone rehabilitation treatment, and rewarded for it by early release, the recidivism rates would be lower – I don’t know.

Note that in some other countries, mostly in Europe, the maximum sentence is 30 to 40 years, after which if the inmate is deemed unfit for society he or she is held over to the mental health system – we can have an interesting discussion about the justice of this, but the point is that societies which do not have death or life sentences thrive pretty well. Early releases will not bring the republic down.

Prop 57 also requires that a judge decide whether a child is tried as an adult, rather than at the discretion of the prosecutor.  The measure is opposed by nearly every DA office around the state, and some are quite vocal about it.  But don’t fall for the fear tactics.  Arsonists and rapists aren’t going to be released because they behave well.  It’s much more involved.

 

 

Proposition 58 – restores bilingual education – Yes

 

In 1998 61 percent of the voters passed Prop 227 which mandated English immersion courses at the expense of bilingual approaches.  There were problems with bilingual education which did leave many students languishing as they graduated without learning English.  It did allow for a waiver for parents who wanted bilingual education, but the programs aren’t well funded now and the options aren’t really as available as they should be.

Meanwhile, new approaches to bilingual education have evolved and deserve another try.

I do have a problem with the wording of the proposition – makes no mention that it is effectively overturning 227.  People polled support 58 until they hear that, then they turn against it.  I fault Kamala Harris, whom I’m supporting for Senator.  This was dishonest, and it could backfire. We’ll see.

 

Proposition 59 – Advisory measure to advocate overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment which states that corporations do not have the rights of individuals – yeah, sure

Move to Amend is backing this, but I really kind of resent that much time and money is being wasted on a measure that accomplishes nothing by itself.  I guess there’s some value to pols knowing where California voters are at, but I’m afraid it will lose because people turn against advisory measures and it is interpreted as a rejection of the concept of the Constitutional amendment.

But sure. Whatever.

 

Prop 60 – condom requirements for porn movies – No

 

I’m all for the protection – mandatory condums, testing, medical exams, and vaccinations paid for by producers. Requirement of a health license.  Enforcement provisions.

I’m all for it until you get to the enforcement which basically deputizes every citizen of California, enabling him/her to sue a company for enforcement.  The individual would, if he or she prevails, collect attorney fees and 25 percent of the imposed penalties.  Anyone with a financial interest in the film would be subject to penalties.

So we all become condom cops.  If you’re not creeped out by that, well, vote for the thing.  I won’t.

 

Proposition 61 – State prescription purchase price caps – Yes

 

You’ve seen the headlines about an arrogant young prick jamming up EpiPen prices to gouge patients for profit, and those images will be in play as voters consider this measure. Basically, the measure would not allow the state health care systems, with a few exceptions, to purchase prescription drugs at price rates higher than the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs – the one federal agency which is allowed to negotiate prices.  It applies to any transaction in which the state agency is the ultimate payer.

Veterans groups are opposing the measure because it might lead companies to raise prices on them.  Others oppose it because they think the costs of the lawsuits are going to offset the savings.  And nothing prevents a company from simply refusing to offer prices at the Dept of Veterans Affairs level.

I mean, the real reform would be to allow purchases of Canadian prescription drugs, many of which originated in the US.  The prescription drug companies have a lock on politics at the federal level, and they make windfalls.  If they actually have to be subject to market forces they won’t make the windfalls.

Will it work?  We don’t know, because so many of the contracts between the DVW and the companies, as well as the state and the companies, are confidential.  But the differences in the pricing is ridiculous.  Maybe the veterans deserve the special treatment, but then let’s affirmatively subsidize them.  But I suspect that it will be effective because the pharmaceutical companies have poured about a hundred million into the race to kill this measure. And we’re just into October.

 

Proposition 62 – bans the death penalty – Yes

This is, I think, the third try in the past couple of decades.  Each time the proponents offer something to sweeten the deal.  This time it mandates that life without parolers (oh, and by the way, contrary to popular belief almost nobody who receives such a sentence is ever let out) perform slave labor to provide restitution for the victims’ families.

I’ve explained why I oppose the death penalty so many times I just don’t have anything clever to add this time around.  Primarily, I just don’t believe that mortal human beings are capable of judging whether a human being has the right to live.  Forget all the arguments about potential mistakes, racism and other inequities in the system, or cruel and unusual punishment.  We just don’t have the right to make that call.  And the state should not be in the business of revenge.  Period.

I don’t like the slavery portion of the measure, but the interest of a DP ban overrides.

 

Proposition 63 – More gun control – Yes

It does a bunch of stuff – probably too much for a proposition in my opinion.  But there’s good policy in here which might survive a Second Amendment attack.

The NRA is right.  Guns don’t kill people.  Bullets do.  So even if arms can’t be regulated tightly enough without running afoul of the Second Amendment, maybe ammunition regulation can, if done right.

First, it bans the large capacity ammunition magazines – in other words ammunition for machine guns.

It tightens up the licensing for ammunition sales, criminalizes license violations, and allows for non-licensed sales for vendors selling smaller amounts – incentivizing sales practices which don’t allow for hoarding.

It requires dealers to check with the DOJ as to prohibited persons (I don’t feel comfortable not knowing what the criteria is – for instance I don’t agree with Bernie or Clinton on applying the largely arbitrary no-fly lists to the prohibitions).  It regulates bringing ammunition into the state privately.  It requires the DOJ to maintain a database of ammunition sales.

The measure also formalizes the court processes by which convicted felons must turn in their firearms, with mandated follow-up and involvement of probation departments.

Requires reporting of loss or theft of ammunition.  Requires DOJ reporting of names of individuals prohibited from gun ownership to the federal database.

And it imposes user fees to offset costs.

I think there will be some problems and inequities, but the proliferation of high powered guns is way out of control and Proposition 63 could save lives.

 

The opposition – “No, because terrorists. France.  Boston.  9/11.  Box cutters.

 

Proposition 64 – marijuana legalization – Yes

I know, I know.  Corporatization of the industry.  Mainstream decline of quality.  Death of a revolutionary culture.

You know, it’s time.  Sure, corporatization.  But also labor standards – protection of workers from basic exploitation to rape and murder. Health department.  Licensing.  Taxation.  All that stuff you moved to the hills to get away from.

Somebody several decades ago thought to separate the male plants from the female, and the government did its part to ramp up prices with destructive enforcement.  And now it’s the new timber where I live, and possibly a staple of the US economy in most places.

It’s time.

Maybe it won’t survive federal government challenges ultimately, but it will move us in the right direction.

It legalizes use by persons over 21 for any purpose.

It designates state agencies to make it all legit.

It imposes sales taxes – 15 percent retail, with other taxes for flowers and leaves, while exempting medical marijuana from some of the taxation.  Establishes a complex regulatory scheme for packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing with restrictions on certain marijuana products (hash for instance).  Also can’t be sold by a business which sells tobacco or alcohol.

Prohibits marketing to minors.  Honors the federal regs re businesses near schools.

Allows for local regs and taxation.

Cleans up some criminal records for past convictions.

The local opposition privately screams about “corporate control,” which means they don’t want to have to run an actual business like everyone else.  The mainstream opposition is screaming about the children.  Because, you know, gummy candy.  And traffic collisions in Washington. Organized crime in Colorado.  No DUI standard (probably because there’s no way to really measure intoxication or impairment).

Diane Feinstein is opposed.

I am so over this whole discussion.  I’m bored!  Legalize it already and let the economic chips fall where they may.

 

Propositions 65 and 67 – Carry out bags ban – No, No, No!! on 65, yes on 67

 

This is confusing.  The plastic bag manufacturers put both on the ballot.  Please vote no on 65, and yes on 67.  Yes, I know it’s confusing.

This has got to be one of the most cynical maneuvers in California referendum history.  So, in 2014 the legislature passed a law banning the single-use carry out plastic grocery bags which has not yet gone into effect.  It’s worked fine in San Francisco and other localities which have passed bans – nobody really misses them.

The law bans the plastic bags which are by all accounts very detrimental to the environment on several levels.  It also allows for grocery stores to charge a minimum of 10 cents for paper or recycled bags.

The plastic bag manufacturers are trying to pull a fast one.  First, they put 67 on the ballot.  California law allows for any law passed to go on the ballot before it takes effect.  Fine.

But then they put up proposition 65 which basically forces the grocers who charge 10 cents per bag to pay those proceeds into some worthwhile environmental causes.  Sounds good, right?  It’s not.  Paper bags cost the grocers money.  To be deprived of the proceeds for the bag, the plastic bag ban (plastic bags are negligible in costs) would be costly for grocers to implement outside of the areas which have already provided bans.  And it’s intended to confuse voters – probably hoping they will vote both down.  In any case, if prop 67 fails, prop 65 is moot.

 

Proposition 66 – Quicker death penalty – No!!!!

 

This is the response to Prop 62 and if it collects more votes it will override 62 if the latter passes.  It’s intended to preserve and expand the death penalty by reducing appellate opportunities.

Among the worst aspects, it would reassign the habeas corpus proceedings from the California Supreme Court to the Superior Court – as in elected judges.  And it limits the habeas proceedings you can take – which really misses the point.  HC is intended to be that appeal you can resort to almost out of process when there is real injustice happening.  It’s not supposed to be something strictly regulated – it’s up to the discretion of the tribunal itself, so I’m not even sure it will hold up Constitutionally if passed.

But to relegate it to elected judges who have a political interest in the outcome where a public can be bloodthirsty – this would be a horrible result.  I don’t know if I’ve come across a worse proposal by ballot since LaRouche managed to get his concentration camps for AIDS victims on the ballot.

But yeah, let’s reduce the appeals, and shorten the process, so we can be even less sure we’re killing someone properly.

It handcuffs the Habeas Corpus Resources Center by abolishing the Board and turning the process over to the courts.

It also ups the slavery element for victim families.

It does some other hardass stuff.  Don’t vote for it – just don’t.  It will increase the chances of executing innocent people.

 

 

 

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