From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, California voters will decide the fate of propositions 19-27.
The voter registration deadline is today. In order to register, visit rockthevote.com.
Proposition 19 – Legalization of cannabis
Prop. 19 would allow those 21 and older to own, transport or cultivate marijuana for personal use. Local governments would have the authority to regulate and tax the market. Possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, or in the presence of a minor would be prohibited. Laws against driving while under the influence would be maintained.
Arguments for: Supporters argue that the state would save money because it would not have to enforce laws prohibiting the sale and use of marijuana. In addition, supporters believe that the state would earn substantial amounts of revenue from taxation. They also say that this law would put an end to the violent marijuana black market.
Arguments against: Those who oppose Prop. 19 argue that the measure is flawed in that it weakens the punishment for working or driving under the influence of marijuana. Opponents also believe that marijuana is a gateway drug and that its legalization will lead to the use of more dangerous substances. They also argue that the public cost of legalization would outweigh any amount of revenue brought in via taxation.
Proposition 20 – Re-drawing of congressional district lines
Prop. 20 is an extension of proposition 11 which passed in 2008. Prop. 11 gave a 14-person legislative redistricting commission the authority to redraw Senate, Board of Equalization and Assembly district boundaries. Prop. 20 would add congressional districts to that list. Proposition 27 on this year’s ballot would cancel Prop. 11. If both of these propositions pass, the measure with the most “yes” votes would prevail.
Arguments for: Supporters argue that Prop. 20 would hold congressional representatives more accountable to voters by creating districts that are more balanced. They also believe that redistricting would be done in a more transparent manner.
Arguments against: Opponents argue that Prop. 20 would be counterproductive because congressional district lines would be drawn according to economic status. They also believe that Prop. 20 would cost the state millions of dollars.
Proposition 21 – Increase to vehicle license fees to fund state parks
Prop. 21 would add an $18 surcharge to vehicle registration fees. The added revenue would go to a trust fund with the purpose of operating and maintaining state parks thus protecting wildlife. Those who had paid the surcharge would receive free admission and parking to all state parks.
Arguments for: Those in favor of Prop. 21 argue that the measure would solve the problem of chronic underfunding of state parks by establishing a reliable revenue stream to keep parks open and operational.
Arguments against: Those who oppose Prop. 21 argue that the measure essentially implements a new car tax. They also believe that existing state park funds would be diverted to other uses.
Proposition 22 – Local taxpayer protection
Prop. 22 would prevent the state from using property and gas taxes that are designated for cities, counties and special districts. The state would also be prohibited from taking any existing local funds designated for services such as public safety and redevelopment.
Arguments for: Supporters argue that Prop. 22 is imperative to keep the state from borrowing from local services in order to ease the budget deficit.
Arguments against: Opponents believe that preventing the state from borrowing locally would hurt education, public safety and social services.
Proposition 23 – Suspends pollution control until unemployment falls
Prop. 23 would prevent the implementation of the Global Warming Act of 2006, known as AB 32, until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or under for one year.
AB 32 requires that state greenhouse gas emissions be cut, by 2020, to the levels similar to 1990 by using a greenhouse-gas-reduction program. The program increases renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements and increases the fees and documentation requirements for major polluters. The process outlined in AB 32 would begin in 2012.
Arguments for: Supporters argue that Prop. 23 will help the people while maintaining California’s clean air and water policies. They believe that jobs would be saved while preventing energy tax increases.
Arguments against: Opponents argue that, if left unattended, increasing levels of air pollution will put public health at risk. In addition, opponents believe that the state’s dependence on oil would increase while up and coming clean technology companies would suffer.
Proposition 24 – Reverses business tax provisions
Prop. 24 would reverse three business tax provisions that were implemented in 2008 and 2009. Under the revised laws, businesses would not be able to share tax credits, they would be less able to deduct losses in one year against losses in another and businesses who operate in multiple states would have their California income determined differently.
Arguments for: Those in favor of Prop. 24 believe that it prevents $1.7 billion in special tax breaks for multi-state corporations.
Arguments against: Those who oppose Prop. 24 believe that the measure would hurt small businesses, send up to 144,000 jobs out of the state and tax the creation of new jobs.
Proposition 25 – State budget can be passed with a majority vote
Prop. 25 would lower the Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget to the Governor from two-thirds to a simple majority of each house.
Arguments for: Those in favor say Prop. 25 would not affect the two-thirds vote required to lower taxes and that it would fix a broken budget system. They believe that it would hold legislators accountable for a late budget and expedite the budget-writing process.
Arguments against: Those who oppose Prop. 25 argue that the measure would make it easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict voters’ constitutional right to reject laws. They also argue that politicians would benefit financially while experiencing softer punishments.
Proposition 26 – Enhances definition of taxes to include fees and charges
Prop. 26 would broaden the definition of taxes to include fees and charges. The change would cause there to be a two-thirds vote by each house of the Legislature to approve these fees and charges.
Arguments for: Supporters say politicians would no longer be able to implement hidden taxes by calling them fees or charges.
Arguments against: Opponents say Prop. 26 was written without public input and that it would protect polluters such as big oil corporations.
Proposition 27 – Reverse Prop. 11
Prop. 27 would reverse the effects of Prop. 11, which was passed by voters in 2008. This measure would return the authority to draw district boundaries to the Legislature rather than a 14-person legislative commission. Since Prop. 20 and 27 contradict each other, in the event that each passes, the measure with the most “yes” votes would prevail.
Arguments for: Supporters argue that redistricting costs would be lowered, saving taxpayers money. They claim that districts will be more balanced because the people who draw the district lines will be more accountable.
Arguments against: Opponents say legislators will simply protect their own jobs once they regain the ability to define district lines. They claim that Prop. 27 is really about giving more power to the legislators, not saving money.
For further information on each of California’s nine ballot measures, visit californiachoices.org.
MARK LING can be reached at email@example.com.