With November 8 just days away, the millions of registered voters in California will soon be deciding on a vast number of propositions. Following are summaries of the propositions, based on information from the Official Voter Information Guide and statements made by groups either supporting or opposing the measures. The Point hopes this helps to inform you about your ballot.
Prop 51: School Bonds
California has 8.3 million students enrolled in public education. This Proposition would authorize $9 billion in general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of K-12 schools, charter schools, vocational facilities and California Community College Facilities. It would result in around $17.6 billion needed to pay off the bonds, with annual payments of $500 million over 35 years. A yes vote would approve the $9 billion in bonds, while a no vote would not allow the state to issue new General Obligation bonds. Republican and Democratic leaders have endorsed the measure, as well as a litany of educational and safety organizations including: the California School Boards Association, California Professional Firefighters and the California School Nurses Organization.
Prop 52: Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program
Government-funded Medi-Cal helps low-income patients pay for their medical bills. While the government funds the Medi-Cal, California is still responsible for equaling the amount of money received by the government. In 2009, hospitals began paying quotas to assist California reach the necessary amount to continue receiving Medi-Cal funds. Consequently, hospitals received additional funds (roughly, $2 billion a year). Some of the funds were diverted to the state’s general fund. Should yes prevail, voter approval will be necessary to divert funds from the hospital fee program. A yes would also allow the hospital fee program to continue beyond January 2018. A no would mean the hospital fee program will cease to exist in January 2018. Proposition 52 is supported by both the Republican and the Democratic parties. Many civic organizations, such as The Children’s Initiative and United Advocates for Children and Families also support Proposition 52.
53: Revenue Bonds, Statewide Voter Approval
In California, the revenue in the General Fund (which is mostly funded by state taxes) repays general obligation funds. Voter approval is necessary for the state to issue these types of bonds. Besides general obligation funds, California also issues revenue bonds. Generally, revenue from fees are used to repay them. These bonds do not require voter approval. A yes means supporting voter approval every time the state issues more than $2 billion in bonds that would fund public infrastructure projects and that would consequently create an increase in taxes or fees in order to be repaid. A no vote opposes the requirement of voter approval for the above situation. The California Republican Party and The Libertarian Party support proposition 53. The California Democratic Party, along with Gov. Brown, oppose the proposition. Local publications, like the San Diego Union Tribune, also oppose prop. 53 stating that it is not clear what “a project is,” and that the proposition does not take under consideration situations of emergency.
Prop 54: Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote
Legislative meetings in California are public. The majority of the meetings are available for later viewing on the state legislature’s website. “Yes” votes are in support of preventing the legislature from voting on bills before they have been available on the legislature’s website for at least 72 hours before the vote. Additionally, bills would need to be available in print. “No” votes oppose the necessity of publishing bills online and in print for 72 hours before the legislature votes. The California Democratic Party opposes prop. 54, while the California Republican Party supports it. Major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, agree with the California Republican Party saying that prop. 54 would increase transparency in the legislating process.
Prop 55: Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare
Following Proposition 30, 2012 saw the birth of an income tax. As of now, this income tax (that also includes a sales tax which is not covered by prop. 55) is set to expire in 2018. By voting yes on Proposition 55, you accept to extend the income tax rates created by prop. 30 until 2030. Californians with a single income filing of $263 thousand or joint income filing of $526 thousand are affected by these tax rates, representing 1.5 percent of the state population. The California Democratic Party and multiple school organizations back Proposition 55 because the income tax would be used to fund healthcare and education.
Prop 56: Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare
While the average state tobacco tax per pack of cigarettes is $1.65, California has a tobacco tax of $0.87. Proposition 56 demands an increase of $2.00 on tobacco tax (the total tobacco tax in California would therefore be $2.87 per pack of cigarettes). Revenues from the increased tax would be allocated to medical research of
edical research, physician training, Medi-Cal and school programs aimed at reducing tobacco use among young people. A “yes” vote is in favor the tax increase; a “no” vote does the opposite. The California Democratic Party, along with several environmental organizations agrees with Proposition 56. The California Republican Party and The California Libertarian Party contrast Prop. 56 saying that bureaucracy and special interest would prevail over the funding of smoking-prevention programs and research.
Prop 57: Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings.
In 2011, The United State Supreme Court deemed California prisons to be overly populated and in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In 2014, Californians approved Proposition 47; consequently, certain felonies are now considered misdemeanors and inmates have more chances of getting parole. If Prop. 57 is approved, felons who were convicted of nonviolent crimes would get the opportunity to get parole. Proposition 57 would also allow judges to decide on the nature of the trials reserved to juveniles. They would be able to determine whether the juveniles need to be tried as adults. “Yes” votes support Proposition 57. Gov. Brown, the California Democratic Party and the California Libertarian Party support Prop. 57; The California Republican Party opposes it.
Prop 58: Multilingual Education
In 1998, Proposition 227 made sure English was going to be the only language spoken in public schools. As of now, teachers are required to speak only English, and English learners have to take an intensive English course before they can access public education. Proposition 58 would allow schools to integrate multiple and bilingual programs. Students could learn from teachers who speak more than one language. Annual feedbacks would provide school districts and county offices with data on English programs. A “yes” vote would permit non-English languages in public schools. A “no” vote would reinforce what Prop. 227 implemented in 1998. The California Democratic Party and Gov. Brown back Prop. 58 saying, among other things, that Prop. 58 would allow English speakers to learn another language. The Republican Party, on the other hand, refutes the benefits Proposition 58.
Prop 59: Overturn of Citizens United Advisory
Political contributions and spending are protected as “free speech” under the First Amendment. This is possible thanks to the ruling of Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). Proposition 59, however, calls for the limitation of campaign contribution and spending because corporations are not supposed to have the same rights as human beings. A “yes” would push state’ s elected official to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, while a “no” would maintain the current the current situation. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the California Democratic Party and the Green Party of California are all in favor of Prop. 59.
Prop 60: Adult Films
Proposition 60 requires adult films to be more heavily regulated to prevent STDs. Producers would have to pay for testings, medical examinations, obtain health licenses and allows state enforcement. A yes vote would increase regulation over health concerns while a no vote would continue to allow more localities to pass their own requirements. Opponents say this 13-page measure is very poorly written which is why it is opposed by the California Democratic Party, California Republican Party and California Libertarian Party. Proponents argue existing laws must be strengthened.
Prop 61: State Prescription Drug Purchases
From 2014-2015 California paid nearly $3.8 billion in drug purchases. This measure would set an upper limit on the amount California could pay for prescription drugs. Proponents of this measure argue that drug companies should not be allowed to profit from illness. Opponents of this bill point out it would only help 12 percent of Californians and could negatively impact the State and veterans residing in California by manufacturers raising prices. A yes vote would require the state to not pay more than is paid for a drug by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. A no vote would allow Californian departments to do their own negotiating to find the cheapest price. This proposition is opposed by the California Republican Party, many health organizations and hospitals, most veterans organizations, unions and business organizations. Proponents of the measure include the California Green Party, officials such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and the California Nurses Association.
Prop 62: Death Penalty (Repeal)
California has the largest prison population in the U.S. on death row, numbering 748 inmates. However, out of the 930 people convicted since 1978 only 15 people have been executed, 103 have died while incarcerated and 64 had their sentences reduced. California uses lethal injection for executions, but a legal issue has halted executions since 2006 and the state is not developing new routes for legal executions. A yes vote would repeal the death penalty and replace it with “Life Without the Possibility of Parole”. A no vote would keep California’s death row system the same as it is now. Also on the ballot this year is Proposition 66, which would speed up legal processes in an effort to clear the system. Whichever measure receives more votes will stand. This measure is supported by dozens of current and former local, state and federal officials, the California Democratic Party and many civic, religious and legal organizations. Opponents include the California Republican Party, many police organizations and most District Attorneys throughout California.
Prop 63: Firearms, Ammunition Sales
This proposition would require individuals to pass a background check and obtain authorization to purchase ammunition, prohibit large-capacity magazines and creates new procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession. A yes vote would pass these new restrictions on ammunition purchases and a no vote would allow California’s gun laws to stay the same. This measure is supported by the California Democratic Party, many mayors of large cities in California and a number of health and gun safety groups. Opponents include the California Republican Party, several Sheriff’s associations and gun rights groups.
Prop 64: Marijuana Legalization
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since around 2003, when the legislature allowed collectives to provide to their members. This proposition would legalize recreational use of marijuana and impose a 15 percent sales tax as well as cultivation taxes on its growth and sale. Medical marijuana would be exempt from certain taxes. This measure also establishes packaging and advertising restrictions for marijuana products. It also allows resentencing and destroying of records for some prior marijuana convictions. Proponents include the California Democratic Party, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers and a large number of civic organizations including the ACLU of California. Opponents include the California Republican Party, several municipalities and county officials, some public safety officials and some law enforcement professionals.
Prop 65: Carryout Bag Charges
This proposition would redirect money collected by grocery and other retail stores from bag sales to an environmental fund. This proposition is different from Proposition 67, which is a referendum to approve a state law. A yes vote would require stores to put money from bag sales towards preservation of the environment. A no vote would allow stores to keep the proceeds from these bag sales. This measure is supported by the California Republican Party. Opponents include the California Democratic Party (who urged a “yes” vote on 67 instead), the California Libertarian Party and several municipal chambers of commerce.
Prop 66: Death Penalty Procedures (Expedite)
This proposition would change procedures governing state court appeals and petitions, seeking to shorten the time taken for legal challenges to death sentences. This is in direct contrast to Proposition 62 which would eliminate the death penalty. Proponents argue executions should take place within five years of a conviction, while opponents argue the measure is poorly written and would not allow time for individuals to be proven innocent. This proposition is supported by the California Republican Party, a large number of law enforcement organizations and many California District Attorneys. Opponents include the California Democratic Party, many civic organizations including the ACLU of California, multiple religious institutions and even the author of California’s 1987 death penalty law.
Prop 67: Referendum Banning Single-use Plastic Bags
A yes vote would uphold SB 270 which prohibits certain stores from providing single-use plastic bags. A no vote would reject SB 270 and allow stores to continue to provide bags unless prohibited by local laws. This proposition is supported by Democratic state officials including lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown, the California Democratic Party, a large number of wildlife conservation groups and the California Labor Federation. Opponents include the California Libertarian Party and a number of plastic-producing companies.