Proposition 51: Vote no
School bond funding for K-12 and community colleges — Normally I support all school bonds, but this one is a building industry proposal that caps developer fees, transferring project costs to the state bonds. The governor is against it also, although normally he’s very pro school bonds. Even the California Teachers Association (CTA) balked at supporting it, so I conclude this one is a bit of a stinker.
Proposition 52: Vote yes
Medi-Cal hospital fee programs — The fees from this program, which is about to run out, generate almost $3 billion in matching federal funds for Medi-Cal, uninsured and children’s health, and dollars must be spent for those purposes. If this fails, it necessitates major cutbacks in those programs.
Proposition 53: Vote no
Revenue Bonds — This is kind of a Trojan Horse. It’s really an attempt by a couple of very wealthy individuals to block the water tunnel and also high-speed rail, and also erodes local control over some large local infrastructure projects.
Proposition 54: Vote yes
Legislation and proceedings — Requires bills be in print and online at least 72 hours before the legislature can act. An attempt to make government more open and more transparent, but it also gives lobbyists more time to mobilize all their forces. If it works, great, so probably worth a try.
Proposition 55: Vote yes
Tax Extension to fund education and healthcare via high income taxpayers — Estimates are if this doesn’t pass, we will be back in a $5 billion deficit in 2018 and require major education and healthcare cuts.
Proposition 56: Vote yes
Cigarette tax to fund healthcare, research and law enforcement — Essentially to cover the cost the public bears flowing from tobacco use in our state, which amounts to roughly $3.5 billion per year. Major opposition is the big tobacco companies — Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds — who have already spent $56 million in a very disingenuous campaign to defeat the initiative. They claim it doesn’t do anything for education, nor, I would add, does it do anything to cure the common cold, nor were either ever the intention of the initiative. It’s just a plain old tax that will raise the price of cigarettes, and big tobacco is afraid they’ll sell fewer cigarettes in California.
Proposition 57: Vote yes
This is the governor’s proposition to try and get nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, which now costs us $51,000 per year per prisoner, and even more as the prisoner get older. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was practically a bidding war to see who could be the toughest on crime and all sorts of enhancements were added to the sentences. The proposition wants to give the parole boards more flexibility in who to parole and when to parole prisoners.
Proposition 58: Vote yes
Some years ago, we passed some very restrictive, sort of English only laws to speed up, we thought, the learning of the English language by immigrants. They haven’t worked very well, nor been very effective, and this is an attempt to build more flexibility into the system. Sometimes, after some experience, you can identify and then correct past mistakes.
Proposition 59: Vote no
This is a proposition to send an advisory opinion to someone that California, a very blue state, thinks that the “Citizen’s United” case was a very bad U.S. Supreme Court decision because it opened up the flood gates to all sorts of money, both clean and dirty. I agree that it was a terrible and very naive decision, but I don’t think we should waste our energy and money to send messages to people who couldn’t care less. Instead, we should spend our energies electing a president who will send people to the Supreme Court who see the world as many of us do.
Proposition 60: Vote no
Requires porno actors to use condoms — What next if this passes? We’ll probably have to decide in the next election cycle what color or brand they should be. If this is a good idea then let them take it to the legislature and convince them this is a health hazard and they should take appropriate action. To my mind, certain things just shouldn’t be ballot propositions.
Proposition 61: Vote yes
Proposition says that California can’t spend anymore on the drugs they buy than the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which apparently gets the best prices in the government. The drug companies are going bonkers and have spent $48 million so far to defeat this proposition. From that, we can conclude that they make a lot of extra money selling drugs to California, which buys drugs for Medi-Cal patients. California is either not very good at negotiating prices, or something nasty is going on. Considering that we are about 13 percent of America, you would think we had enough clout to negotiate effectively. Apparently not, so I’d suggest a yes vote
Proposition 62: No recommendation
Repeals the death penalty and substitutes instead a life sentence without possibility of parole — On death row, there are currently some very nasty vicious characters. There are also probably some innocent people, as some recent cases have shown. Courts move very slowly and carefully on death penalty cases. Few on death row are executed, and most simply die of old age or disease. I personally feel that the state should not take life, but I can well understand how the family and friends of victims want justice, which to many means the death of the perpetrator. I think this is purely a personal choice about what you feel the role of the state should be.
Proposition 63: Vote yes
Regulates the sale of firearms and ammunition — I have no problem with people owning firearms, but if we can license drivers and alcohol sellers, there is absolutely no reason we can’t license firearms as well as particular certain types of ammunition and ammunition magazines. We’re permitting weapons and ammunition developed for war to be sold on the streets, and the consequences are obvious and deadly.
Proposition 64: Vote yes
Marijuana legalizations — I’m for it. Since medical marijuana is already easily obtained, it seems sensible to allow commercial cultivation and sales with limitations on quality of the marijuana, the age of the buyers, and regulating and taxing the sale. It’s happening anyway. Are there some downsides? Sure, but there are also downsides to alcohol and abuses of prescription drugs, and different generations use different recreational substances and always have. It’s time to decriminalize it.
Proposition 65: Vote no
First we said they can’t sell plastic bags and there were good reasons for it. But we allowed them to sell carryout bags, for which they really didn’t need our permission. Now we want to mandate they give the money received for carryout bags back to a special government fund. Come on guys, get real. It’s enough to make you vote Libertarian.
Proposition 66: Vote no
Death penalty procedures — This is the prosecutions side of the death penalty argument. It’s sort of the poison pill against the abolition people. We have a judicial system of courts and none of them are going to abrogate their responsibilities to a ballot proposition like this. One of the problems with the death penalty is that it’s final so no one wants to make a mistake, which slows down the process.
Proposition 67: Vote no
Many jurisdictions have already mandated no plastic bags, and I see no reason to keep cutting back on local authority, particularly since we have to look to the local authority for enforcement.