5 things to watch in every state: California

I’m going to cheat here.  There will be 10 things that I’m interested in watching in California. This first post will just be the statewide ballot measures that I’m interested in watching. With the election less than a forknight away, let’s get it done.

  1. Proposition 55: This is somewhat of a selfish election for me to watch.  I did volunteer work in California to pass Proposition 30 in 2012.  Part of Proposition 30 called for a personal tax increase for those with incomes over $250,000.  The vast majority of the funding, nearly 90% was allocated to fix K-12 schools with an additional 10% going to state community colleges.  Proposition 30 also had a sales tax increase.  Proposition 55 would extend the income tax increases from Proposition 30 until 2030.  Without this proposition, the income tax increases from Prop 30 would phase out in 2018.  The income tax rate would continue a 1% increase on taxable income at $263,000 – $316,000, 2% on $316,000 – $526,000, and 3% on incomes over $526,000.  It is overwhelmingly supported by Democratic elected officials and opposed by a few Republicans.  Liberal blogger Kevin Drum also opposes Proposition 55 because he argues that the California budget was a mess in 2012 and Proposition 30 was needed.  But we need a more stable tax structure.  Well, yes, that’s true.  But the problem is, without the extension of Proposition 30, the budget will likely be a mess, again.  I’m not personally that big of a fan of Prop 55 but I am interested in watching it.  If you are a casual observer of politics, you probably often hear about how California is going to go bankrupt, if it’s not already.
  2. Proposition 59: This is a dumb proposition.  A yes vote for the proposition would encourage state officials to use their authority to overturn Citizens United.  I am not a fan of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United but the proposition also includes the idea of passing a Constitutional Amendment.  What does the Constitutional Amendment say?  Well, nobody knows.  Drafting a Constitutional Amendment for every bad Supreme Court decision is a bad idea.  Particularly so in this case, when a fifth Supreme Court justice could overturn Citizens United.  Oh well, it will probably pass.
  3. Proposition 62/66: This is pretty straight forward and is one of a handful of ballot measures that would help repeal the death penalty in their respective states. Proposition 62 is a fairly straightforward repeal of the death penalty with a maximum punishment being the life without possibility of parole.  Proposition 66 is more or less the opposite of Proposition 62.  Prop 66 would keep the death penalty in place, speed up the appeals process, require prisoners on death row to work and pay restitution to the victims’ families.  If it gets more votes on November 8, it will supersede Proposition 62, if they both pass.
  4. Proposition 63: According to some, this proposition was more or less part of the political ambition of Gavin Newsom.  I’m particularly harsh on Newsom because I think that he is eventually going to run for Governor in 2018 and for President in 2024.  Essentially, the ballot measure would require background checks for the sale of ammunition; prohibit large-capacity ammunition magazines; require lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement; and prohibit people convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms.  Of course, because this is California, the ballot initiative is largely irrelevant since a number of gun control measures were passed this year to ban high capacity ammunition, regulate ammunition purchases, etc.  The proposition doesn’t do enough to improve on the gun control legislation already passed.  But, since there’s guns on the ballot, enough people might oppose it.
  5. Proposition 65/67: Proposition 65 and 67 are both about the ban on single use plastic bags in grocery stores.  Proposition 65 would redirect funds collected would be redistributed to the Wildlife Conservation Board.  The idea is to change the 10 cent fee into a tax to make it unpopular, in my opinion.  I’m interested to see if the confusing wording will do enough so that people end up supporting Proposition 65.  Proposition 67 is a referendum on Senate Bill 270.  Senate bill 270 was the bill that would ban plastic bags.  A yes vote keeps the ban.  A no vote would overturn the ban.  Plastic bags are probably a big driver in climate change, if you believe in that, or just takes up unnecessary space and is hard to get rid of without feeling bad. Also plastic bags are really difficult to carry.  Reusable bags make it easier to carry groceries, especially if you live in an apartment.  I speak from experience.  I can make one trip up the three flights of stairs to move my groceries if I use resusable bags instead of plastic bags.  This is very important when I have to take my 2 year old daughter up with me, as well.  I’m interested in watching the plastic bag ban to see if it gets upheld or overturned. I’m much more interested in this rather than the marijuana legalization bill.
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