When I first began hobby-blogging on my own personal site, I used to take the California voter guide every election cycle and break it down for my friends who said they had trouble interpreting the often convoluted and overstuffed guide and liked to ask me about my opinion as a political junkie. It soon became a tradition and as I moved into professional blogging its something I still try to do every year.
California is basically a budding direct democracy at this point, thanks to years of heartless, scum politicians running around Sacramento unchecked. As a result, residents voted themselves the power to approve or disapprove of any new spending, fees or taxes. Most of our ballots are crammed with new measures and initiatives every year, as the voters don’t trust the people they voted for in the first place.
I’ve broken down each of the 17 measures on the ballot this year into simpler pieces to digest. I give you a short summary, an explanation of what your YES and your NO votes mean (they don’t always mean “yes” and “no”), and then I give you my personal opinion just in case that matters to you. I hope this helps you or any of your friends in California.
Prop 51 School Bonds
In a nutshell: Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K–12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities. Fiscal Impact: State costs of about $17.6 billion to pay off both the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. Payments of about $500 million per year for 35 years.
What your YES vote means: You give permission to the state to borrow $9 billion dollars to be paid back over the course of 35 years as well as add an additional $500 million per year in interest payments to the current $2 billion per year in interest payments on educational bonds.
What your NO vote means: You do not give the state permission to borrow the aforementioned amount in bonds and add to the annual interest debt.
My Vote: I never vote for these bonds. Bonds is a fancy word for “taxes”. Buried in the language in the bill is a provision that community colleges must have their projects approved by the state before they receive money. In essence, the state doesn’t necessarily have to use this money as promised. $500 million a year in interest alone? That makes no sense. Next election cycle will bring new requests for new bonds to pay the massive interest on the old bonds. NO for me.
Prop 52 Medi-Cal hospital fee program. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute
In a nutshell: Extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children’s health coverage. Extends indefinitely an existing stature that imposes fees on hospitals to obtain federal matching funds. Makes this temporary fee permanent. Declares fee proceeds do not count as revenue toward state spending limit Prop 98 funding requirement
What your YES vote means: The fee imposed on hospitals that is scheduled to end in January of 2018 would be extended permanently.
What your NO vote means: The fee will end on the date voters originally agreed to.
My Vote: NO! This is a tax on hospitals and voters originally agreed to it because it was temporary. The state never honors its promises on “temporary” revenue. Here is your proof. The state wants you to make this tax permanent because they get matching federal funds. And isn’t it convenient they’ve also stipulated in this bill that the fees they collect don’t count towards the spending limits voters imposed on the state? Supporters of this measure say the funds are necessary to support “children’s health” and poor California residents. But isn’t this the entire reason Obamacare was crammed down our throats? So no poor person had to go without insurance? We also have both state and federal laws that prevent doctors and hospitals from turning away anyone in need regardless of ability to pay. This is nothing but a scheme for the state to get more money from the feds and from hospitals. We shouldn’t be punishing hospitals for helping people. We should be making owning and operating hospitals as easy as possible as they are vital to our citizens. I won’t approve our state reneging on its promises and using fear tactics to do so.
Prop 53 Revenue Bonds, statewide voter approval, initiative constitutional amendment
In a nutshell: This measure requires statewide voter approval before bonds can be issued or sold if the bond exceeds $2billion. Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement.
What your YES vote means: You agree that voters should have the right to vote on any expenditures that require more than $2 billion in bond revenue.
What your NO vote means: You do not agree that voters should have the right to vote on expenditures that require more than $2 billion in bond revenue.
My vote: A reluctant YES. This is the madness “direct democracy” which California has currently voted itself into. Our politicians are so corrupt the people keep having to pass measures that require direct voter approval on nearly everything. But the politicians just find a loophole and then we have to have a vote to close the loophole and so on and so forth. I’d prefer to just elect decent representatives but that is the impossible dream in this state. Sacramento got around the original voter requirements by breaking up big projects into smaller projects and not revealing the total cost. Prop 53 disallows that and requires politicians be transparent with the budget. I have no illusions that any of that will happen but…yes. Unenthusiastically, as I know we’ll be voting to close the loopholes in this measure in just a few years time as well.
Prop 54 Legislature: Legislation and proceedings
In a nutshell: This bill requires the California legislature to publish on the internet any bill they are considering for at least 72 hours before they vote on the issue. It also authorizes the recordings of all state and local legislature meetings and proceedings by any resident (except for close proceedings).
What your YES vote means: You agree that legislators should release any bill on the internet for all to see for at least 72 hours before they vote. You also agree that any resident can record any open legislative proceedings at any time with no state fees or interference.
What your NO vote means: You don’t believe the state should be forced to publish bills on the internet at least 72 hours prior to a vote. You don’t’ believe residents should have the right to record any open legislative proceeding.
My vote: Again, like 53 its a reluctant YES. More direct democracy red tape brought to you by the apathetic voters of a state that has a full time legislature that has nothing to do but make up ways to fleece the taxpayers every day. I had a Democrat-loyal friend call me up one day when her school sent home memos about transgender bathroom laws going into effect. She was livid and wanted to know what she could do. I told her it was too late. She’d already voted for the law by voting for the person who enacted the law in Sacramento. Votes have consequences. Perhaps she and others could have made a stand against it if they’d only known it was happening in the first place. Of course, you still have to depend on people knowing enough to search out the posted bills, but I do like the protections for people who record meetings. Support for this seems to be bipartisan and in the voter guide the rebuttal is filled with words like “Big Oil” and “Big Money” and “Big Lobby” and that automatically makes me think this is probably a good bill.
Prop 55 Tax extension to fund education and healthcare
In a nutshell: Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000 and allocates up to $2 billion per year to schools and community colleges.
What your YES vote means: This “temporary” income tax would be extended to 2030
What your NO vote means: This “Temporary” income tax would end at the original agreed upon date of 2018.
My vote: Can you guess? Is there an option for “HELL NO”? Its really nervy for the state to use the word “temporary” to trick people into believing the state would ever make any revenue temporary. Its also nervy that there is another Prop on the ballot that is basically this same thing (51). So if one passes and one loses the state is still getting its tax increase. If they both pass we’re looking at a combined $11 billion in taxpayer dollars for schools this year. Please keep in mind that every year we are told there is not enough money for schools in California. This is a lie. There is too much money, it just doesn’t get passed down to the people whom everyone claims they care about the most – the teachers and students. Why should I have to cut my personal expenses but my state government only ever asks for more and more and never tightens their belts?
Prop 56 Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Prevention, Research and law enforcement
In a Nutshell: Increases cigarette tax by $2 per pack to fund all the projects mentioned in the title.
What your YES vote means: Yes, we should impose another $2 tax on tobacco products (also includes E-cigs)
What your NO vote means: No, we should not impose another $2 tax on tobacco products (also includes E-cigs)
My vote: Easy. No new taxes. And this tax raises it from $0.87 to $2.87…that’s crazy! Every person in America should thank a smoker for funding so much of our daily life. Cigarettes are taxed mercilessly and bring in a lot of revenue. People who smoke already know its unhealthy. We don’t need the government trying to tax people out of smoking, nor do we want it considering how much money cigarettes bring in to state coffers every year. NO for me on this ridiculous tax.
Prop 57 Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal proceedings and sentencing.
In a nutshell: Allows early parole consideration for non-violent offenders. Authorizes the Dept. of Corrections to release certain inmates early for good behavior, rehabilitation or educational achievements.
What your YES vote means: Certain state prison inmates convicted of nonviolent felony offenses would be considered for release earlier than otherwise. The state prison system could award additional sentencing credits to inmates for good behavior and approved rehabilitative or educational achievements. Youths must have a hearing in juvenile court before they could be transferred to adult court.
What your NO vote means: Current sentencing guidelines and applications do not change.
My vote: No way. This is one of those bills that depends on you not reading it carefully. Buried in the prop is language that makes it clear that the sentencing guidelines are based on an original conviction. It says this only applies to non-violent offenders, but the way it is written means that if a serial rapist is first convicted on a trespassing violation, that is the violation the state will consider when looking at early release, because it was the “original” offense. So the violent criminal arrested on a non-violent charge is eligible for early release. Al Capone was arrested for tax violations. Under this law he’d be eligible for early release. This is a scheme for the state to reduce the prison population at the risk of public safety. My vote is NO.
Prop 58 English Proficiency. Multilingual education
In a nutshell: Requires districts to solicit parent and community input in developing language acquisition programs. Requires school districts provide ESL for non-English speaking students. Authorizes school district to force immersion programs for non-native english speakers. Repeals previous requirement that students only be taught in English.
What your YES vote means: Yes, schools should be required to provide non-English educational options
What your NO vote means: Schools should not be required to provide non-English immersion and training programs and previous props for English-only teaching in non-immersive programs remain standing.
My vote: Nope. I’ve never met an immigrant from a non-English speaking country who didn’t know Americans speak English. It is the official language of this country and most of them are eager for their children to be fluent. The quickest way to fluency is total immersion. Partial immersion programs actually slow a child’s ability to learn English. Also, parents should not be forced to pay for ESL programs and their children shouldn’t pay for it by losing valuable classroom time to English language instruction. English is the language of our land. Being bilingual or trilingual is a wonderful gift and should be applauded. English isn’t better, its just the language we use. Accommodating more only increases costs and decreases actual educational instruction.
Prop 59 Corporations, political spending, federal constitutional protections.
In a nutshell: Overrides the federal constitutional ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election commission, and gives California the right to reverse the ruling for this state. If you don’t know what that is, don’t vote on this proposition.
What your YES vote means: You give the state the authority to nullify the federal Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission regarding election spending
What your NO vote means: You do not give the state the authority to override the federal Supreme Court on election spending
My vote: No. That’s a dangerous precedence, isn’t it? What if we manage to elect some super crappy people who believe blacks and whites shouldn’t be allowed to get married? Will we hand them the authority to override the Constitution of the United States? I’m a big supporter of states rights, but that’s a slope I really don’t want to slip down. If you don’t know anything about the Citizens United decision you can learn about it here, but its my suggestion you just don’t vote on this one if you don’t get it. No shame in it.
Prop 60 Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements
In a nutshell (go ahead and giggle, you know you want to): Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires adult film producers to obtain state health licenses and imposes liability on producers or distributors of films should the production be deemed in violation. Permits the state to inspect for and enforce violations (oh, to have that job).
What your YES vote means: Yes, the state should force the porn industry to use condoms and get health department licenses to operate.
What your NO vote means: No, the state should not have the right to enforce the use of contraceptives or to impose license fees on porn industry participants.
My Vote: Less government is best government. Porn is gross and dangerous but people who participate in the (legal) industry are consenting adults. We spend roughly a BAJILLION dollars a year educating kids in schools about condoms and STDs and safe sex. We were told it was the only way to prevent disease. Ostensibly all these porn “performers” already know about condoms. If they want to use them, they can. If not, they take on the risk. Plus its just another way to squeeze more fees out people. There are already state mandated guidelines for every business that have to be followed. So we have “safety measures” in place for the workplace already. I’ve never been a big fan of being forced to pay the government for a piece of paper that says you can do what you’ve already been doing forever. Like for braiding hair or running a street hotdog cart. These are transactions between consenting adults who incur the risk/reward consequences for themselves. No to this busy-body legislation.
Prop 61 State prescription drug purchases, pricing standards.
In a nutshell: This one is very complicated. This bars state agencies from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at any price over the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S.Dept. of Veteran Affairs, except as may be required by law.
What your YES vote means: The state of California is allowed to dictate the price they will pay for prescription drugs.
What your NO vote means: The state of California cannot interfere with the price of prescription drugs.
My vote: Nope. Everyone wants cheaper medication. Who can be against that? The language of this prop is extremely confusing. I had to read it a few times to understand it. Basically its price control. Price controls always drive up the cost of an item or result in a scarcity of an item. Its a horrible, horrible idea. This bill will make drugs for poorer Californians who are dependent on state care more expensive and harder to obtain. NO on this prop.
Prop 62 Death Penalty
In a nutshell: Repeals the death penalty, applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death.
What your YES vote means: Yes, repeal and abolish the death penalty.
What your NO vote means: No, keep the death penalty laws we already have. Maintain the death penalty in the state of California.
My vote: This one is up to personal opinion. I’m a proponent of the death penalty (you can read my explanation here) so I’ll be voting NO, in order to keep the death penalty. Vote your conscience.
Prop 63 Firearms, ammunition sales
In a nutshell: Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large–capacity ammunition magazines. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
What Your YES vote means: an entirely new department and court process will be established and Californians will need to have a background check before purchasing ammunition as well as register in a national database
What your NO vote means: no new ammunition or firearm requirements will be permitted.
My vote: I’m pro Second Amendment all day long. We already have the most stringent gun control laws in the country. Restricting ammunition by requiring a background check is like requiring people to go through a background check to by gasoline or Sudafed. Those are things that are used for very dangerous things but also things that most people use according to the law and their own health standards. All restricting ammunition means is that Californians will start buying their ammunition in other states where state law enforcement can’t track that information if needed for an investigation. It also removes tax revenue from state coffers when people cross state lines to buy goods. Its also unconstitutional. NO NO NO on this bill.
Prop 64 Marijuana Legislation
In a nutshell: Legalizes marijuana for use by adults 21 and over. Allows the state to license and regulate marijuana sales. Imposes a 15% excise tax on retail marijuana. Decriminalizes marijuana and allows for resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.
What your YES vote means: Adults 21 years of age or older could legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for non-medical purposes, with certain restrictions. The state would regulate non-medical marijuana businesses and tax the growing and selling of medical and non-medical marijuana.
What your NO vote means: Growing, possessing, or using marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain illegal. It would still be legal to grow, possess, or use marijuana for medical purposes.
My vote: Another “vote your conscience” prop. Frankly I approve of legalizing marijuana, but I don’t approve of a 15% tax on it. That’s insane. I’m skeptical of the government controlling things like licenses and regulation when it comes to something people have been doing and partaking in with relative peace for a long time. However, I like the idea of reducing marijuana penalties and sentences. Honestly, I haven’t decided. I think its revealing that the medical marijuana industry is very much opposed to this prop. Vote how you feel on this. I don’t have any solid opinions one way or the other.
Prop 65 Carryout bags, charges, initiative standards
In a nutshell: Grocery stores and other retail stores will be forced to collect a “bag fee” for every bag they use for your items. This fee will be directed to the state for an “environmental project” fund
What your YES vote means: stores will be forced to start making you pay for your bags and then forced to give that money to the state.
What your NO vote means: Stores are not forced to charge you extra for your bags and the state will not receive a new source of revenue.
My vote: What the hell? NO! Look at that description and tell me that’s ok. The government is basically telling the stores they have to charge for bags and then they don’t even get to keep the money! So its their expenditure, their market risk and their labor but not their profit. Which means you will be paying more money for your products because the stores will no longer be able to simply build it into the cost of your product. They’ll have to maintain their profit margin while being extorted by the state. This makes no sense. Its complete BULLSHIT. I’m voting NO. However, someone used the word “environmental” so I don’t have a lot of faith in my fellow Californians to reject this absolute nonsense.
Prop 66 Death Penalty procedures
In a nutshell: The language on this is complicated but basically it amounts to lowering the amount of time a death penalty case can remain in the court system. It lowers the amount of time attorneys have to file petitions and requires that direct appeal and habeas corpus process must be completed within 5 years of the sentence. In other words – no more 20 year death penalty cases. It also eliminates the state’s 5 person Habeas Corups board and returns those considerations to the California Supreme Court.
What your YES vote means: The state must change the death penalty appeals process, make it shorter and eliminate the red tape surrounding death penalty cases.
What your NO vote means: The state will not impose any new changes on the current appeals process.
My Vote: This is another conscience vote, but I’ll be voting YES on this. I believe the death penalty should be a much swifter process, while still allowing for thorough investigation and consideration. Twenty years is much too long for a person to be on death row, and a type of “cruel and unusual” punishment in itself. Also, I’m for eliminating any useless government committee. The courts can do what that stupid, 5 person, money-sucker panel has been doing for years. Vote your conscience on this one.
Prop 67 Plastic bag ban
In a nutshell: Bans plastic bags like ones you get at grocery stores.
What your YES means: You hate plastic bags and authorize the government to tell private citizens what kind of material they’re allowed to carry their items home in.
What your NO vote means: You love freedom and think if people want to use plastic, they should be able to use plastic.
My vote: Okay, I was a bit judgy in my analysis but for cripes sake. We literally passed a bag ban in this state and then the governor who championed the bag ban overturned the bag ban because a bag ban meant we were sending thousands of jobs (creating bags) out of state. One factory that employs 6,000 Californians was set to leave for Texas until the ban of the ban. Now we’re going to vote on another ban? People, make it stop! NO on this. NO NO NO!