Ahh, one of the good things that came about during the Progressive era in California was the ballot initiative process.
It was put in place in the early 20th century because the state legislature was corrupt and, surprise, did not always act in the best interests of the citizenry.
In the 2010 election coming this Tuesday, there are 9 initiatives from legalizing marijuana to ending the independent commission on redistricting. Before there is one meeting of the group.
So, I will take the initiative as presented in the Los Angeles county sample ballot and comment on each one.
LEGALIZES MARIJUANA UNDER CALIFORNIA BUT NOT FEDERAL LAW.
19 PERMITS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO REGULATE AND TAX COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND SALE OF MARIJUANA. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Fiscal Impact: Depending on federal, state, and local government actions, potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually.
On Prop 19, vote NO.
I am overall ambivalent about whether marijuana should be decriminalized and or legalized. But this measure, no matter how worded, totally contradicts federal law and in that case will make it way in the judicial system. Most importantly, it is another way that the taxing politcial class crack whores are trying to come up with money rather than seek to cut the size of government.
It is an ill-conceived measure that should not be passed at this time. Federal laws must be changed first and then states should be able to decide to legalize it or not.
REDISTRICTING OF CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Removes elected representatives from process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party. Fiscal Impact: No significant net change in state redistricting costs.
On Prop 20, vote YES.
This will end the state legislature's role in redistricting congressional districts in California. In order to get Proposition 11 on the ballot in 2008, congressional redistricting was permitted to still be carried out by a legislature dominated by Democrats. Thus, a yes vote will make all redistricting in the hands of the state commission on redistricting. It is the only way fair lines will be drawn and that Republicans will be competitive in all partisan offices.
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. Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Fiscal Impact: Annual increase to state revenues of $500 million from surcharge on vehicle registrations. After offsetting some existing funding sources, these revenues would provide at least $250 million more annually for state parks and wildlife conservation.
On Prop 21, vote NO.
Sorry, it is another tax. Actually, it is an increase in the vehicle registration tax. And it has, surprise, exemptions. No one loves the great outdoors more than your humble blogger. And California has a lot to offer in this area. But, once again, we are in a time of economic distress and can not afford another tax that is supposed to fund state parks. That is what we were promised with the so-called vanity license plates. Somehow, I do not trust that this money will stay earmarked for the state parks. We can not afford a luxury at this time.
PROHIBITS THE STATE FROM BORROWING OR TAKING FUNDS USED
FOR TRANSPORTATION, REDEVELOPMENT, OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROJECTS AND SERVICES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Prohibits State, even during severe fiscal hardship, from delaying distribution of tax revenues for these purposes. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state General Fund spending and/or increased state revenues, probably in the range of $1 billion to several billions of dollars annually. Comparable increases in funding for state and local transportation programs and local redevelopment.
On Prop 22, vote YES.
One of the great sins in how former Gov. Jerry Brown implemented Proposition 13 was to rob cities and counties of their tax earnings, take it to Suckramento, er SACRAmento and redistribute the money. Supposedly according equal to monies the cites and counties raised. This restores that imbalance in a small way. It deserves a yes vote.
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. Fiscal Impact: Likely modest net increase in overall economic activity in the state from suspension of greenhouse gases regulatory activity, resulting in a potentially significant net increase in state and local revenues.
On Prop 23, vote YES
This is most likely the most controversial of the measures on this ballot. It keeps the so-called Globaloney Warming act from taking place until the California unemployment rate hits 5.5% or less for a full year. The Globaloney Warming Act, also known as AB 32 is nothing more than a scam to "create" a green economy with the full force of the state government behind this economy. And yes, implementation will increase energy costs, fuel prices and create even more job losses than California already has. Sanity must prevail and this must pass to restore sanity.
REPEALS RECENT LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ALLOW BUSINESSES TO LOWER THEIR TAX LIABILITY. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues of about $1.3 billion each year by 2012-13 from higher taxes paid by some businesses. Smaller increases in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
On Prop 24, vote NO.
At least this measure is a good ol' fashioned tax increase. Again, in this time of economic distress, we can not ask for another tax increase. The size and scope of government must be reduced. It is what the private sector does all the time. We can not afford a tax hike now and must defeat this measure.
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. Legislature permanently forfeits daily salary and expenses until budget bill passes. Fiscal Impact: In some years, the contents of the state budget could be changed due to the lower legislative vote requirement in this measure. The extent of changes would depend on the Legislature’s future actions.
On Prop 25, vote NO.
On the surface, it does sound good to penalize a dysfunctional state legislature that takes 100 days to pass a budget. But beneath the surface, gutting the 2/3rd majority for passing a budget would lead to the next step. Gutting the 2/3rd provision for tax increases. The real solution is two fold. Do two-year budgeting vs. annual budgeting and have a part-time legislature that must pass the budget as is within 90 days. This is a stealth way to make it eventually easier to raise taxes in California.
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. Fiscal Impact: Depending on decisions by governing bodies and voters, decreased state and local government revenues and spending (up to billions of dollars annually). Increased transportation spending and state General Fund costs ($1 billion annually).
On Prop 26, vote YES.
This is a really interesting concept. If the people that keep passing these "fees" and increases in these "fees" really believe they are necessary, they will have to take it to the voters. Passage of this measure may make these bodies think twice before passing these "fees".
ELIMINATES STATE COMMISSION ON REDISTRICTING. CONSOLIDATES AUTHORITY FOR REDISTRICTING WITH ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Eliminates 14-member redistricting commission. Consolidates authority for establishing state Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization districts with elected representatives who draw congressional districts. Fiscal Impact: Possible reduction of state redistricting costs of around $1 million over the next year. Likely reduction of these costs of a few million dollars once every ten years beginning in 2020.
On Prop 27, vote NO.
Actually, on this, one should vote HELL NO! This is an attempt by the California Democrat party to end this commission before it begins the redistricting process. It is a bald-faced attempt to take reapportionment away from the people and restore it, in this case, to the Democrat-dominated legislature. I firmly believe that we should, at the very least, wait to see the outcome of what the commission does before eliminating it. If neither major political party likes it, then try to make the change. But this is nothing but a last-ditch effort to never allow the people, all the people, to have their say.
A lot of people, many in California, find this process unyielding and claim that it ties the hands of state government and legislators. But, if the same people actually did their job in the first place, many of these measures would not have to be on any ballot. I for one think this was a good thing and yes, it was Progressives that fought and got this change done. A change for the better for California.