Sunday, October 22, 2006


The Thirteen Propositions

We, the people of California, have hamstrung our State Legislature so that it is unable to make decisions on taxes and other money matters. The mechanism of crippling the legislature is to require a 2/3 absolute majority vote in each chamber on any such issue. One result is that at every election we, the people of California, have to deal with many ballot propositions. We are asked to decide matters that the legislature ought to decide but can't because of the vote requirement.

For example, in this election we have 13 State Measures on the ballot. Los Angeles City has three more. For what it's worth, here are my own opinions about the thirteen state measures. These opinions are subject to change without notice and reflect only my opinions here and now (3:30 PM PDT, October 22, 2006).

1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION--This specifies that taxes on motor fuel (gasoline, diesel, etc.) are to be used only for highways and other transportation improvements.
MY OPINION--Lah dee dah! I think the law already specifies that such tax revenues are to be used for highways and other transportation needs. It can be overriden in a State fiscal emergency, so what's the point? I'll vote NO or ignore this one.

1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND ACT OF 2006--This is a bond (borrowed money) for building and improving highways, local streets, providing seismic strengthening of bridges, improving port facilities, etc. I have nothing against it. I guess I'll vote YES.

1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND ACT OF 2006--Another bond issue, this one to provide shelters for battered women, clean and safe housing for low-income senior citizens, etc. I have nothing against this one either. YES.

1D: KINDERGARTEN-UNIVERSITY PUBLIC EDUCATION FACILITIES BOND ACT OF 2006--I'm all in favor of educational facilities. YES.

1E: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND FLOOD PREVENTION BOND ACT OF 2006--This one provides money for rebuilding and repairing levees along the Sacramento River, primarily. I have mixed feelings. I think it is a mistake to build levees to protect the homes of people who choose to live in flood plains. There are plenty of other places for them to live. My inclination right now is NO.

83: INCREASED PENALTIES FOR SEX OFFENDERS; RESTRICTIONS ON WHERE FORMER SEX OFFENDERS CAN LIVE; OTHER REQUIREMENTS--This is a matter that ought to be decided by the legislature. I don't think that increased penalties are required. It is reported that the experience in another State is that it tends to drive serious offenders underground to where they can not be tracked at all. My opinion: NO.

84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY--I haven't studied the text of the two propositions in detail, but this one looks almost like 1E. However, since the emphasis seems to be on water quality rather than protecting homes in flood planes, my inclination is YES.

85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF A MINOR'S PREGNANCY--This would amend the State Constitution to require a two-day delay and notification of parents before a doctor could perform an abortion on a girl under the age of 18 years. We voted this one down last year. Why does it come back again so soon? NO, NO, NO.

86: TAX ON CIGARETTES--I really and truly wish that the legislature could decide on this one rather than having it thrown to the voters. I have no objection personally to high taxes on cigarettes. I quit smoking about 16 years ago, so it doesn't affect me. Also, the initiative specifies what the money can be spent on. It is another example of how the initiative process has made budgeting next to impossible in California. I don't object to the tax itself. I object to not simply putting the money in the General Fund and letting the Governor and Legislature decide how to spend it. Instead of voting for this turkey, I would rather vote for a proposition that would repeal the 2/3 vote requirement in the legislature so that the legislature would have a better chance of making sensible taxation decision. My opinion: Reluctantly, NO.

87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY--This is the one that Big Oil is spending oodles of money to defeat. I will vote for it just for the satisfaction of annoying the CEO's of Exxon-Mobile, Chevron, etc. YES, YES, YES

88: EDUCATIONAL FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX--This would apply an additional $50 a year on each real property parcel. The tax on my house would increase an infinitesimal $50 from 1500 to 1550 per year. Considering how seriously underfunded our schools in California are, this seems like much too little an increase. In addition, this is an initiative that specifies specifically where the money would be spent. I suspect that the legislature would simply reduce the normal appropriation for education by the amount of this tax, so the net effect would be nil. My opinion: It's a waste of effort. NO.

89: CAMPAIGN PUBLIC FINANCING, ETC.--I really like this one. In spite of the complexity (it not only provides public funding for individuals, it restricts donations by for-profit corporations to campaigns for or against initiatives) I will vote YES with enthusiasm. YES, YES, YES

90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY--This one's a sleeper. It is presented as protection of the poor home owner against a greedy government that wants to take his property by eminent domain and give it to a developer to build a hotel or golf course, or some such thing. The proposition goes much, much farther than that. This monster is a private property owner's dream of absolute freedom from any regulation dealing with environmental protection. My opinion: NO, NO, a thousand times NO!
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