A HISTORIC CALIFORNIA BALLOT
This year, there are an astounding 17 different propositions on the California ballot. With issues ranging from recreational marijuana, to pharmaceuticals, to top earner taxes, to the death penalty, 2016 provides the unique opportunity for Californians to decide their future that prides itself on direct democracy. Below is a brief description of each proposition, with ballotpedia providing moe in-depth analysis
Proposition 64 – Marijuana and Hemp Legalization
Medical Marijuana is currently legal in California, but Prop 64 would make both hemp and recreational marijuana legal in the state for individuals 21 years or over. Due to the sales tax recreational business, as well as a cultivation tax on flowers and leaves, the official State fiscal impact statement projects around $1 billion dollars in additional tax revenue due to the Prop 64.
Propositions 62 & 66 – The Death Penalty
Most notably, Prop. 62 would repeal the death penalty in the State of California, replacing it with life imprisonment without parole, while Prop. 66. would keep the death penalty intact, and streamlines the appeals process by directing them to the California Supreme Court. Interestingly, regardless if both propositions pass with a majority, whichever proposition receives more votes shall void the other proposition (e.g., if 66 wins 60%-40%, but 62 wins 61% to 39%, then Prop. 62 would become law, and Prop 66 would not).
Proposition 55 – Extension of Tax Increases on Wealthiest Californians
In 2012, California voted on Proposition 30, which increased taxes on incomes over $250,000 by creating new income tax brackets (e.g., 10.3% tax on income from $250,000 to $300,000, and a 13.3% tax on all income over $1,000,000, a 10% increase from previous levels) in order to fund education in the State (89% of revenue went to K-12, 11% to community colleges). Prop. 50 would extend the measures taken by Prop. 30 until 2030, projecting $4 billion to $9 billion beginning in 2019, according to the fiscal impact statement (Prop 30 has raised over $31 billion since its implementation beginning in 2013).
Proposition 59 – California Taking a Position on Citizens United
Prop. 59 gives Californians the opportunity for to weigh in on if the State's elected officials should use their power (e.g., through a constitutional amendment) to repeal the controversial U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In their decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that funding of independent political actions (i.e., not associated with candidates or a campaign) by corporations or other entities could not be limited (e.g., through a SuperPac), as such restrictions would the first amendment.
Propositions 52 – Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal
California generates the necessary revenue to receive matching funds from the federal government via Medicaid for Medi-Cal, the State's health insurance program for low-income children and adults, as well as the disabled, through general taxes on the population and, since 2009, fees on hospitals. Though this has allowed California hospitals to receive $2 billion per year for serving Medi-Cal enrollees, some funds have been allocated by the legislature to the State's general fund. Prop. 52 would change the California Constitution to make it harder for the legislature to reallocate these funds designated for Medi-Cal via voter approval.
Proposition 61 – Prescription Drug Prices
In an effort to lower the costs of prescription drugs, Prop. 61, if passed, would require that California State agencies pay the same for prescription drugs, in their negotiation with the pharmaceutical industry on behalf of State Program enrollees, as does the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Due to the complexity of the issue, there is no available State fiscal impact statement.
Proposition 51 – Public School Bonds
With the objective of infrastructure development and modernisation for California's public, as well as chartered schools, community colleges, and career technical education centers, Prop. 51 – if approved – would issue $9 Billion in bonds. The amount would be stored in a 2016 State School Facilities Fund and a 2016 California Community College Capital Outlay Bond Fund. According to estimated by legislative analysts, interest accrued would approximate $8.6 billion, thereby costing $17.6 billion to repay completely.
Proposition 56 – Tobacco Tax Increase
If passed, Prop. 56 aims to add an additional $2.00 tax to the existing excise tax of $0.87 per pack of cigarettes. Further, the definition of "other tobacco products" in state law would be changed to include e-cigarettes. Apart from payment of tax administration costs, revenue would be allocated toward strict enforcement of tobacco regulations, physician training, and dental disease prevention programs.
Proposition 57 – Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements
Prop. 57 would increase parole chances for felons convicted of non-violent crimes, while providing them more opportunities to earn credits for good behavior and educational or rehabilitative achievements. As of 2016, roughly 25,000 nonviolent state felons would become eligible to seek early release and parole, thereby reducing the state's prison population. If authorised, the proposition also allow judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.
Proposition 63 – Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban
In order to keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands by closing loopholes in existing law, Prop. 63 would outlaw the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and require individuals to pass a background check and obtain authorization from the California Department of Justice to purchase ammunition.
Proposition 67 – Plastic Bag Ban
Ratifying Senate Bill 270, Prop. 67 would prohibit large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing plastic single-use carryout bags and ban small grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores from doing so the following year. Single-use plastic bags will, however, be allowed for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items. The proposition will require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled, compostable and reusable grocery bags, while allocating $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers for the purposes of job retention and transition to thicker, multi-use, recycled plastic bag production.
Proposition 60 – Condoms in Pornographic Films
Prop. 60 would compel adult film producers to provide condoms and ensure that performers use them during acts of "vaginal or anal penetration by a penis." They would be required to bear the costs of workplace-related medical examinations, sexually transmitted infections tests and vaccines. In addition, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) would have to be contacted prior to the production of every adult film, thereby allowing for proper enforcement.
Proposition 58 – Bilingual Education
Prop. 58 is designed to repeal the English-only immersion requirements and waiver provisions necessitated by Prop. 227, 1998. Instead, schools would be permitted to employ multiple programs, including bilingual education. Students would learn from teachers who are fluent in their native language, as well as English. Additionally, parental waivers would not be required to enrol in non-English-only classes. If requested by enough parents, however, schools would need to offer certain English learner programs. Annual feedback on such programs would to be taken by school districts and county offices of education.
Proposition 65 – Revenue from Plastic Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund
Prop. 65 would require all revenue generated from the state-mandated sale of disposable bags to be designated for a new environmental fund called the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Fund (EPEF). Managed by the Wildlife Conservation Board, administrative costs would be funded by no more than two percent of revenue in the EPEF. Grants to environmental conservation organizations from the EPEF could be used for drought mitigation, clean drinking water supplies, recycling, litter removal, wildlife habitat restoration, beach cleanup, and state, regional, and local parks.
Proposition 53 – Voter Approval for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion
Prop. 53 would necessitate voter approval for infrastructure-related revenue bonds totalling $2 billion or more, adjusted for inflation. As the name suggests, these instruments are repaid using revenue from fees or other charges paid by the users of the project. Prop. 53 serves as a logical extension to voter approval requirements of general obligation bonds, mandated by the California Constitution.
Proposition 54 – Public Display of Legislative Bills
If approved, Prop. 54 would require that every bill is published in print and online at least 72 hours before each house of the legislature can vote on it. In addition, the legislature would make audiovisual recordings of its public proceedings and publish the recordings online within 24 hours. Any individual would be permitted to record any open legislative proceedings either through audio or visual means, to be used for any legitimate purpose. The fiscal impact of this proposition is estimated to include one-time costs of $1 million to $2 million, as well as ongoing costs of about $1 million annually to record legislative meetings and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet.