Long-time readers know that I have a beef with California’s experiment in direct democracy. Just for starters:
– We elect and pay representatives to, you know, represent us. Instead, direct democracy allows many of the toughest decisions to be passed on to us. Frequently it’s not clear who would benefit the most from a certain proposition passing, and so interest groups try to pull a fast one on voters.
– Certain inalienable rights should not be subject to a majority vote (like Prop 8 in 2008, i.e. stripping gay marriage from the state).
Now, even though I would like the see the number of propositions each year greatly decrease, the fact remains that until that is the case, they will be on the ballot and it will be my responsibility to research them and cast my votes. The most-watched proposition on this year’s ballot is probably 19, which legalizes personal use of marijuana, but there are other interesting things. Here’s a quick rundown:
Prop 19 – I’m voting Yes. Legalizes pot under state (but obviously not federal) law. Enables local governments to tax and regulate it. It will remove nonviolent criminals from the prison system, and take a bite out of organized crime by reducing a black market.
Prop 23 – I’m voting No. Prop 23 would repeal AB 32, the landmark greenhouse gas bill signed by the Governator four years ago. The law requires the state to reduce greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020. Who is bankrolling this prop? Big oil, of course.
Prop 24 – I’m voting Yes. It will repeal recent legislation that allows businesses to lower their tax liability. It was snuck into the budget in a backroom deal with little debate or visibility back in 2008 during one of those sessions when the budget was months late (see Prop 25). It affects mostly large, multi-state corporations.
Prop 25 – I’m voting Yes. This decreases the legislative requirement from 2/3 to a simple majority to pass a budget. It seems like every year California is unable to pass its budget for months, and this is a big reason why.
Prop 26 – I’m voting No. It reclassifies certain fees as taxes, thus imposing the 2/3 majority requirement on them in order to pass. This requirement makes it extremely difficult for California to levy any tax, which contributes heavily to our longstanding massive budget deficits.
That leaves Props 20, 21, 22, and 27. I don’t have stances on them yet. I’ll take any advice if you got it. 20 and 27 concern how to control the process of redistricting (which happens in the wake of the census). 21 and 22 both concern budgeting by ballot box, deciding whether to protect certain interests (state and local parks and transportation projects) at the expense of everything else.