It’s time to head to the polls for congressional elections and there are a number of heated races this year. At stake is control of the House and the Senate, and as always, here in California there are a number of ballot initiatives you’ll be voting on.
First of all, we want you to commit to voting, but we also want you to make informed choices in the voting booth so we decided to take a look at the Propositions you’ll be voting on and put them in simple language noting the pros and cons in an attempt to help understand the meaning of the measures.
We’re fortunate to live in a country where we get to express our opinions through our votes. Let’s take that responsibility seriously. Please study the notes we’ve compiled for you and if you’d like to comment on any of the initiatives feel free to do so without attacking the other side (like we used to do in junior high school).
See you at the polls next Tuesday! Here is all the info you need on the different Props!
Proposition 19: Legalization of Marijuana in California
This measure would make it legal for anyone 21 years of age or older to possess, grow and transport up to one ounce of marijuana for their own personal use. However, while these activities would be legal under California law if Proposition 19 passes, they would still be illegal under federal law and violators could still be subject to criminal penalties which could create some interesting scenarios if the proposition passes. This is not a license to go pot crazy; you still can’t grow it at home or drive under the influence or have marijuana on school grounds.
Supporters of Proposition 19 call it a proposal for common sense control of marijuana, saying it will put police priorities where they belong: on violent criminals instead of non-violent marijuana consumers. Supporters also say ending arrests of marijuana users will help police departments save hundreds of millions of dollars every year throughout the state, and generate billions of dollars in tax revenues.
- Supporters of Proposition 19 include the California NAACP, the ACLU of Northern and Southern California, the California Libertarian Party, the Latino Voters League, and several former and retired police, sheriff and other law enforcement officials.
- Opponents of Proposition 19 criticize it as a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, workplaces and communities less safe. They also say Prop 19 would make it impossible for any employer in California to meet federal drug-free workplace standards or qualify for federal contracts, and that California schools alone could lose out on more than $9 billion in federal funding as a result.
Opponents of Proposition 19 include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Police Chiefs Association, Senator Dianne Feinstein and nearly 100 police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys.
Proposition 20: Redistricting—Congressional Districts
In 2008 voters passed Proposition 11, which took the job of drawing California’s legislative district boundaries out of the hands of elected officials in the state Legislature and put it in the hands of a special Citizens Redistricting Commission, made up of five Californians who are Democrats, five Republicans and four voters who aren’t registered with either major political party. That law only applied to the state legislative districts and not to U.S. Congressional districts within California. Proposition 20 would move the job of drawing the Congressional districts to the same Citizen Commission.
Of note, a competing ballot measure, Proposition 27, also deals with redistricting. If both Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 are approved by voters, whichever one gets more yes votes will be the only one to go into effect.
- Supporters of Proposition 20 say Proposition 20 will ensure we have more fair districts that can hold congressional representatives accountable to voters, and make it easier to vote them out of office when they don’t do their jobs.
Supporters of Proposition 20 include the AARP, California Common Cause, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Latin Business Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, Cal-Tax, and the California State Conference of the NAACP.
- Opponents of Proposition 20 say it will waste taxpayer dollars by doubling the budget for redistricting at a time when the state is already $19 billion in debt.
Opponents of Proposition 20 include The Sierra Club, Californians Against Waste, the Congress of California Seniors, and the California Coalition for Leadership and Accountability.
Proposition 21: Vehicle License Surcharge for State Parks and Wildlife Programs
Proposition 21 would put an $18 surcharge on vehicles registered after January 1, 2011, with all money raised used exclusively for state park and wildlife programs. In exchange for this $18 surcharge, the measure says that all vehicles subject to the charge would have free vehicle admission, parking, and day use at all California state parks (which currently charge $5-$15 per vehicle, per day.)
- Supporters of Proposition 21 say California’s state parks are suffering from extreme neglect due to erratic, severe and damaging funding cuts made at the whim of Sacramento politicians.
Supporters of Proposition 21 include The California Nurses Association, the California League of Conservation Voters, the California Federation of Teachers, California Action for Healthy Kids, and Audubon California.
- Opponents of Proposition 21 describe it as nothing but a cleverly packaged attempt to bring back the car tax and another bad example of ballot box budgeting. Opponents question whether now is the time to pay more for parks while schools, universities and road construction throughout the state are ignored.
Opponents of Proposition 21 include The California Taxpayers Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Americans for Prosperity.
Proposition 22: Protection of Local Tax Revenues from State Use
Proposition 22 attempts to stop the State of California from borrowing or simply taking revenues from certain taxes which are intended to be used for transportation improvement projects, redevelopment projects and programs, or local government project and services.
Supporters of Proposition 22 have named it the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act. They say it will stop the state’s raid on local government money that is supposed to be used for public services, like 9-1-1- police response, road repairs, and public transportation.
- Supporters of Proposition 22 include the California Library Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Fire Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities.
- Opponents of Proposition 22 say it is little more than a money grab by local government bureaucrats and developers. Opponents claim Proposition 22 would cost California schools $1 billion immediately, and an additional $400 million every year afterward. They warn that the measure also takes away money firefighters need, and reduces funding available for health care, to the point that tens of thousands of children in California are at risk of losing their health insurance and access to affordable care if Proposition 22 passes.
Opponents of Proposition 22 include the California Teachers Association, the National Taxpayer Limitation Committee, California Professional Firefighters and the California Nurses Association.
Proposition 23: Suspends California’s Global Warming Law Until State Unemployment Drops
In 2006 California legislators passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state to the same levels they were in 1990, by the year 2020. Proposition 23 would suspend implementation of that law until state unemployment level drops below 5.5 percent for one full year. California’s current unemployment rate is slightly above 12 percent.
- Supporters of Proposition 23 say that without it, California’s Global Warming Law will impose a massive new energy tax on California residents, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and destroying more than a million jobs, all for a law that the California Air Resources Board says cannot change the course of climate change.
Supporters of Proposition 23 include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California State Firefighters Association, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, and the California State Pipe Trades Council (AFL-CIO).
- Opponents of Proposition 23 say much more than climate change is at stake and Proposition 23 threatens public health and California’s economy. Specifically, they say Proposition 23 will cause the loss of 500,000 jobs, many in the state’s emerging green energy field. Opponents also claim that two giant Texas oil companies are behind the measure and have spent millions of dollars in order to escape accountability and increase profits. Finally, opponents say Proposition 23 prolongs our dependence on foreign oil that comes from countries that support terrorism and are hostile to the U.S.
Opponents of Proposition 23 include the American Lung Association in California, AARP California, the California Nurses Association, the League of Women Voters of California, Sierra Club California and the California Labor Federation (AFL-CIO).
Proposition 24: Repeal of Business Tax Laws
Proposition 24 would repeal three laws passed in 2008 and 2009 concerning business taxes. The first law, starting in 2011, allows a business to claim a net operating loss in a current year on a previous year’s taxes. The business would simply refile the previous year’s tax return and get a tax refund. The second law, also starting in 2011, would allow multi-state businesses to choose from one of two options for determining how much of their income that California could tax. The third law Prop 24 would repeal allows large business organizations comprised of two or more so-called business groups to share tax credits among the business groups.
- Supporters of Proposition 24 call it the Tax Fairness Act and say it would end $1.7 billion in corporate tax loopholes that benefit only California’s wealthiest, multi-state corporations. Supporters also point to the Legislative Analyst’s report, which says Proposition 24, by increasing the taxes paid by businesses, would add $1.3 billion to the state’s revenues each year, beginning in 2012. This, supporters say, would make more money available for schools, health care and public safety, while a no vote on Proposition 24 would force the Legislature to make more cuts in these areas.
Supporters of Proposition 24 include the California Teachers Association, the League of Women Voters of California, The California Tax Reform Association and the Congress of California Seniors.
- Opponents of Proposition 24 call it a massive Jobs Tax because it would tax employers for creating jobs in California, at a time when the state needs jobs most and would only encourage businesses to leave or locate in other states, taking their jobs with them.
Opponents of Proposition 24 include The California Taxpayers Association, the California Small Business Alliance, The Seniors Coalition, and the California Taxpayers Protection Committee.
Proposition 25: State Budget—Changes Requirement to Pass a State Budget From 2/3 of Legislators to a Simple Majority (50% plus one)
Currently, California’s Constitution requires that in order for a state budget to be passed, two-thirds of each house in the Legislature must vote to approve it. Proposition 25 would change that requirement to a simple majority vote, meaning only a vote of 50 percent plus one would be needed to pass the budget. State law also requires the budget to be passed by June 15 of each year. Under Proposition 25, if the budget is late, then state Legislators would lose their pay and expense reimbursements for every day the budget is delayed.
Supporters of Proposition 25 say it reforms California’s badly broken budget process by breaking legislative gridlock and holding legislators accountable when they fail to do their jobs also bringing California in line with 47 other states that have similar provisions in their state constitutions.
- Supporters of Proposition 25 include the California Federation of Teachers, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, the League of Women Voters of California, the Consumer Federation of California and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFL-CIO).
- Opponents of Proposition 25 say it is nothing but a sneaky attempt to make it easier to raise taxes on Californians and eliminate voter rights. Requiring 2/3 of both the Assembly and the Senate in the Legislature to approve the budget, opponents say, is necessary to protect taxpayers from runaway spending which has created California’s current economic woes. Also, according to opponents, politicians will simply make up for any lost pay by giving themselves higher expense account payments.
Opponents of Proposition 25 include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Taxpayers Association, Citizens for California Reform, he National Taxpayers Union and the California Taxpayer Protection Committee.
Proposition 26: Requires 2/3 Vote for State and Local Fees
Proposition 26 broadens the definition of what is a tax or a tax increase so that more proposals to generate revenue from the public (many of which are described as fees) would have to be approved by two-thirds of the state Legislature or local voters. Specifically, Prop 26:
· Takes some fees and charges that currently only require a simple, majority vote (50 percent “plus one”) for approval and redefines them as taxes requiring a two-thirds majority
· Requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to approve laws that increase taxes on any taxpayer
· Automatically repeals any state law passed between January 1 and November 2, 2010 that conflicts with Proposition 26
· At the local (non-statewide) level, two-thirds of voters must approve certain proposed fees.
Supporters of Proposition 26 say it will stop politicians from enacting hidden taxes and disguising taxes on things like food, cell phones, gas, water and emergency services as fees in order to avoid asking for a broad majority to approve them.
- Supporters of Proposition 26 include the California Taxpayers Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Citizens for California Reform, and the California Taxpayer Protection Committee.
- Opponents of Proposition 26 say it is bad for the environment, public safety and taxpayers and criticize it as another attempt by corporations to protect themselves at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Opponents of Proposition 26 include the Sierra Club of California, The League of Women Voters, the American Lung Association, and the California League of Conservation Voters.
Proposition 27: Eliminates State Citizens Panel On Redistricting/Makes Redistricting the Job of Elected Officials
Proposition 27 would effectively repeal Proposition 11 which voters passed in 2008. Proposition 11 took the job of drawing California’s legislative district boundaries out of the hands of elected officials in the Legislature and put it in the hands of a special Citizens Redistricting Commission, made up of five citizens who are Democrats, five Republicans and four voters who aren’t registered with either major political party. Under Proposition 27, authority to draw these districts would return to the Legislature and the Citizens Redistricting Commission would be eliminated. Voters would be able to reject district maps developed by the Legislature.
Of note, a competing ballot measure, Proposition 20, also deals with redistricting. If both Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 are approved by voters, whichever one gets more yes votes will be the only one to go into effect.
- Supporters of Proposition 27 say it would save taxpayer dollars currently being spent on redistricting efforts every ten years. Supporters also say that redistricting authority should be in the hands of elected representatives, who can be held accountable by the voters, instead of an independent citizens commission, which cannot.
Supporters of Proposition 27 include The Congress of California Seniors and Californians Against Waste.
- Opponents of Proposition 27 say it is nothing more than a tool Sacramento politicians can use to draw legislative district boundaries which protect their own jobs and make them less accountable to the voters. Opponents also say Proposition 27′s provision about allowing voters to reject district maps is hollow, as voters already have this power through the referendum process.
Opponents of Proposition 27 include California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the California AARP and the California State Conference of the NAACP.