Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"My" ballot measure voting recommendations

Those who know me well know who really wrote these ballot recommendations, but I agree with them all and so I'm passing them off as mine. Please distribute widely.

Proposition 19 -- Yes

Legalizes Marijuana Under California but Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.

The Prohibition approach toward this drug is neither fair nor effective. The criminal justice system is not the best place to address its use. Prop 19 would not in itself establish a regulatory and taxation system for marijuana, but follow-up legislation to do that has already been introduced.

Proposition 20 -- No

Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Two years ago, I was one of the majority of voters who approved Prop 11, which took redistricting of state legislative districts out of the hands of the state legislature and gave it to a citizens’ commission. Before that commission has even had a chance to do its work, along comes this measure to also give it the task of drawing maps for CA’s seats in the U.S. House. Let’s give Prop 11 a chance to work before we change it.

Proposition 21 -- Yes

Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs. Grants Surcharged Vehicles Free Admission to All State Parks. Initiative Statute.

Our parks have suffered from underfunding for years, so maintenance is way behind, operating hours way down, and staffing too low. Under Prop 21, an $18 surcharge every year will qualify the payor for free day use of all state parks. This will free the parks from being a political football at budget time, and free up some money for other programs.

Proposition 22 -- No

Prohibits the State from Borrowing or Taking Funds Used for Transportation, Redevelopment, or Local Government Projects and Services. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

I’m very sympathetic to the local governments who have had their funds raided by the state too many times. But this measure is too inflexible and would make it even harder to balance the state budget, which could reduce funding for schools, health, etc.

Proposition 23 -- No

Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for Full Year. Initiative Statute.

Texas oil companies put this on the ballot to try to buy their way out of complying with CA requirements to clean up their fuels and refineries. They’re cynically trying to exploit the recession – which was caused by rampant greed in financial markets – to effectively kill our state’s pioneering limit on greenhouse gas emissions.

Proposition 24 -- Yes

Repeals Recent Legislation That Would Allow Businesses to Lower Their Tax Liability. Initiative Statute.

Because of CA’s absurd requirement for 2/3 supermajorities to pass budgets and taxes, Republican legislators were able to leverage into last year’s budget some new corporate tax loopholes that put the budget even further out of balance. This measure would repeal those loopholes and make the legislators think twice about such giveaways in the future.

Proposition 25 -- Yes

Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Related Legislation from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Speaking of the anti-democratic 2/3 requirement, 25 would allow passage of a budget by a majority of each house of the legislature. Voters could then hold the majority party accountable. The current system allows the minority party to hold the budget hostage, a recipe for fiscal gridlock and bad policies that get attached to budgets because they could never pass through the normal legislative process.

Proposition 26 -- No

Requires That Certain State and Local Fees Be Approved by Two-Thirds Vote. Fees Include Those That Address Adverse Impacts on Society or the Environment Caused by the Fee-Payer's Business. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

This is the Polluter Protection Act that Big Oil and Big Tobacco have put on the ballot to try to shift the costs of cleaning up their messes to the rest of us. If cleanup fees are reclassified as taxes, as 26 would mandate, it would become impossible to make the polluters – and other companies that cause social harm – foot the bill for mitigation of that harm, or for development of safer alternatives.

Proposition 27 -- No

Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting with Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

As I said on Prop 20, I want to give the 2008 reform measure, Prop 11, a chance to work. This measure would repeal Prop 11 and give control of state legislative district lines back to the state legislators, who have an obvious conflict of interest.

I won’t go into candidate endorsements here, but you can see Sierra Club California’s endorsements at http://sierraclubcalifornia.org/?page_id=98.


Measure B – No

No one likes paying utility fees, but they fund essential infrastructure for water, garbage and recycling systems. Local governments are already stretched for cash and have very few options for raising revenues. Passage of this measure would mean reductions in services.

Measure C – Yes

In the unlikely event that Prop 19 passes, the city should tax marijuana sales, as this measure would do.

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