California 2004 Propositions

This is supposedly the biggest ballot in California history. There are sixteen propositions, some of them confusingly similar to each other. I'll try to make sense of them for you.

[1A] [59] [60] [60A] [61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72]

Prop. 1A: Protection of Local Government Revenues.
This one is a pair with Prop. 65. It prevents the state from raiding local government tax revenues.

If both 1A and 65 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

This proposition was a last-minute addition and does not appear in the initial Voter Information Guide mailed out. It showed up in the supplemental version.

Prop. 59: Public Records, Open Meetings.
A state-wide sunshine law. The opposition statement just says it doesn't go far enough. This one is a no-brainer.

Prop. 60: Election Rights of Political Parties.
This one is a pair with Prop. 62. All it does it take the current laws about primary and general elections, and move them into the state constitution. This is not as weird as it sounds; the California constitution is very different from the US Constitution, and contains a lot of things you'd normally think should just be regular laws. In this case, the idea is to pre-empt Prop. 62; since I don't like 62, I do like this one.

If both 60 and 62 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

Prop. 60A: Surplus Property.
Paying off bonds would get first dibs on money from sale of surplus property. I don't particularly care one way or the other about this one. The bonds will get paid off either way, and the garage-sale money will get spent on something either way.

This one was originally combined with Prop. 60 for reasons surpassing understanding. Since it's illegal for a proposition to cover two unrelated subjects, a judge ordered it split.

Prop. 61: Children's Hospital Projects; Grant Program.
$750 million bond issue for children's hospital construction and improvements. Sounds like a fine idea to me, and cheap as these things go. My only objection is that the money would be donated to privately-owned hospitals; generally you use bonds to invest in things that the state ends up owning.

Prop. 62: Elections; Primaries.
This one is a pair with Prop. 60. It would basically eliminate party politics in California. Any voter could vote for any candidate in the primary, and then the top two candidates, regardless of party, would have a runoff. It would certainly be different! They use a similar system in Louisiana, and in the city of Berkeley. But I kind of like our current system.

If both 60 and 62 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

Prop. 63: Mental Health Services Expansion, Funding; Tax on Personal Incomes Above $1 Million.
This would increase mental health funding by adding a 1% income tax for people making more than $1 million. I love taxing the rich; I don't love special taxes that are unrelated to what they fund. Overall, it's a wash.

Prop. 64: Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws.
This would restrict who is allowed to file unfair business practices lawsuits. You'd have to be personally affected in order to file The people in favor of this are playing the "trial lawyers" card, saying that poor innocent small businesses are being victimized by "shakedown lawsuits" filed by lawyers who just want a share of the settlement money. I think, maybe those businesses are not so small and not so innocent - the Yes on 64 campaign is being funded by a bunch of huge corporations including cancer-stick vendor Philip Morris. Sorry, no sale.

Prop. 65: Local Government Funds, Revenues; State Mandates..
This one is a pair with Prop. 1A. Both are related to defending local government tax revenues against getting raided by the state. Prop. 1A is basically an updated version, so don't bother with this one. It's an orphan, the folks who put it on the ballot are now supporting 1A instead.

If both 1A and 65 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

This proposition was late getting certified, and only has a placeholder in the initial Voter Information Guide mailed out. It showed up in the supplemental version.

Prop. 66: Limitations on "Three Strikes" Law; Sex Crimes; Punishment.
This is a long-overdue reform to the three-strikes law, restricting it to only violent and/or serious felonies. Current convicts whose third strike did not fall under the new restrictions would actually get a new sentence hearing, and might get released. Should have done this years ago.

Prop. 67: Emergency Medical Services; Funding; Telephone Surcharge.
Increases the emergency telephone surcharge (tax) from 0.75% to 3%. That's a big increase, and telephone use is not particularly related to emergency services. I'd rather see them funded by taxes on things that actually result in emergency room visits, such as alcohol and cars.

Prop. 68: Non-Tribal Commercial Gambling Expansion; Tribal Gaming Compact Amendments; Revenues, Tax Exemptions.
This one is a pair with Prop. 70. They are both about Indian casinos. This one is being sold to voters as putting a 25% tax on the casinos. This is misleading. What it actually does is offer the 25% deal to the casinos. If every single one of them accepts the deal, it goes into effect; but if any one of them doesn't take the deal, then all the non-Indian racetracks and cardrooms in the state would suddenly be allowed to install slot machines. All of the Indian casinos have already said they won't take the deal, so a Yes vote on this is really a vote to legalize full-fledged Nevada-style gambling everywhere in California.

As of 04 October, the people who put this one on the ballot have given up and say they won't be campaigning for it any more.

If both 68 and 70 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

Prop. 69: DNA Samples; Collection; Database; Funding.
Currently, anyone convicted of a serious felony is required to provide a DNA sample which goes into state and national databases. This proposition would expand that program, applying it to those convicted of any felony; or any non-felony sex crime, arson, murder, or manslaughter; or attempted sex crime, arson, murder, or manslaughter. That's pretty wide already; but DNA collection would also be required for anyone who is merely arrested for a sex crime, murder, or manslaughter. I'm sorry, but that's just too much. I'm voting no; I expect it will pass anyway; I also expect it will be found unconstitutional, a few years down the line.

Prop. 70: Tribal Gaming Compacts; Exclusive Gaming Rights; Contributions to State.
This one is a pair with Prop. 68. They are both about Indian casinos. This one would supercede the individual compacts that the Governor has been negotiating with the tribes, and replace them with a state-wide standard agreement with the same percentage as the corporate tax rate. It also removes limits on the number of slot machines, types of games, etc. I'm not real interested in gambling, I just don't want it down the street from me. As long as it stays on the reservation, I don't care about it. Of course, it's already leaking off the reservation, but that's another discussion - this proposition would neither help nor hinder that process.

If both 68 and 70 pass, then only the one with the most Yes votes goes into effect.

Prop. 71: Stem Cell Research; Funding; Bonds.
Establishes the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to regulate and fund stem cell research by issuing up to $3 billion in bonds. This is to substitute for federal funding which is currently being blocked by anti-abortion nutcases in Washington.

It seems like a great idea; my only concern is that the amount of money is disproportionately large for this fairly narrow and new area of medical research. However, it will give California a near-monopoly on the field, and might even result in a profit a few years down the line if the research pans out.

Prop. 72: Health Care Coverage Requirements.
Sets some minimum requirements for employers to provide health care coverage. A small step towards universal health care.

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