An abbreviated introduction to 2016 propositions

A short digest outlining the most important propositions for the 2016 California General Election.

*All quotes and data are sourced from the California Voter Handbook

  In the heat of a contentious presidential election, it is easy to overlook local politics. However, it is essential not to grow apathetic toward civic engagement. The 2016 California ballot is full of propositions that could greatly impact our community, the state, and possibly the country. The Legend encourages Urban community members of all ages to stay informed on these issues and all adults to vote. Below is a summary of some of the most important propositions on the ballot this year; read up and go vote!

Prop 53: Proposition 53 is a vote to require voter approval for all government projects necessitating the sale of over $2 billion in revenue bonds. If the bill is passed, it will require that a statewide vote be held before the state government can issue more than $2 billion in bonds for major infrastructure projects. Proponents of the bill say it improves government accountability, prevents wasteful spending, and promotes democracy. Opponents of the bill say it could result in too much state control over the approval of local infrastructure projects.

Prop 54: Proposition 54 is a vote to require a 72 hour waiting period from the time a bill is introduced on the statehouse floor before it can be voted on, during which time it needs to be available online. Prop 54 also would require that all statehouse proceedings be streamed on the internet for voters to access. If the bill is passed, the state would invest a one time cost of $1-2 million, and thereafter $1 million per year, to video and upload happenings in the legislature. The costs of the program would not require new taxes but would rather come from the state’s general fund. Proponents of the bill says it improves government transparency and prevents moneyed interests from quickly and surreptitiously running bills through the legislature. Opponents of the bill say that it is expensive, unnecessary, and could slow the legislative process to the benefit of special interests.

Prop 56: Proposition 56 is a vote to increase taxes on tobacco products sold in California. If the bill is passed, it would raise the state taxes on a pack of cigarettes from $0.87 to $2.87. It would also raise taxes on tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, dip, etc. The new tax would increase state revenues by $1-1.4 billion annually, a number that is predicted to decline over the next couple years as smoking rates decrease, especially considering the recent raise on the smoking age. This money would be spent on “health care for low-income Californians.” Proponents of the bill say that tobacco related health issues cost taxpayers $3.5 billion annually and that this new tax is necessary to offset that cost; there is also the added benefit of discouraging smoking. Opponents of the bill argue that only 13% of the revenues would really go toward smoking prevention and that the rest would go to healthcare companies they consider “special interests”.

Prop 57: Proposition 57 is a vote to consider early parole for tens of thousands of nonviolent felons, introduce new rewards for good behavior in prison, and require youths be tried as juveniles before they are tried as adults. If the bill is passed, many nonviolent felons would be considered for parole early and new considerations for good behavior would also lead to more early releases. This would decrease the burden on the state’s prison system and result in savings of “tens of millions of dollars annually.” If the bill is not passed, the current criminal justice system will remain unchanged. Proponents of the bill say it only releases nonviolent offenders, reduces prison overcrowding, eases strain on the state budget, focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment, and gives important rights to youths. Opponents of the bill say that it will release violent felons (including rapists and murderers), takes away justice from victims of crime, and amends the state constitution.

Prop 62: Proposition 62 is a vote on repealing the death penalty and increasing victim restitution. If the bill is passed, the death penalty would be forbidden in California.  All current and future death sentences would be supplanted by life sentences without the possibility of parole. The bill would also increase the wage garnishing of life inmates to fund more victim restitution payments. Prop 62 would lead to about $150 million per year in budgetary savings. If the bill is not passed, the death penalty would remain in place. Proponents of the bill argue that it saves taxpayers $150 million a year, stops executions of possibly innocent people, increases victim restitution, and ends what many consider a human rights abuse. Opponents of the bill say that it deprives victims of justice and lets deplorables off the hook for their abhorrent crimes.

Prop 63: Proposition 63 is a vote on whether to establish a new court procedure for confiscating firearms from felons and requiring  a background check for purchasing ammunition. If the bill is passed, ammunition buyers would have to pass a federal background check, large-capacity magazines (10 or more rounds) would be banned, and a greater range of convictions would prevent perpetrators from owning firearms. The bill would set up a new court process for confiscating firearms from felons. The bill would likely cost tens of millions of dollars annually in enforcement costs. If the bill is not passed, current firearms regulations would remain in place. Proponents of the bill argue that it would improve public safety by keeping firearms and ammunition out of the hands of those who would cause harm. Opponents of the bill say it decreases public safety, infringes on civil liberties, and has a negative fiscal impact.

Prop 64: Proposition 64 is a vote on the state legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults age 21 and over. If the bill is passed, “adults 21 years of age or older could legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes, with certain restrictions.” The bill would reduce criminal enforcement costs by tens of millions of dollars annually and lead to over $1 billion in tax revenues annually from recreational marijuana sales. Marijuana will remain federally prohibited. If the bill is not passed, marijuana will remain a medical only product in California. Proponents of the bill argue that it ends the “failed” war on drugs, reduces enforcement costs, improves civil liberties, leads to greater tax revenue, and improves safety through increased regulation. Opponents of the bill argue that it doesn’t include regulations for marijuana DUIs, legalizes recreational marijuana advertising, and decreases public health and safety overall.

Prop 67: Proposition 67 is a vote on whether to end the use of disposable plastic bags in California. If the bill is passed, the state will prohibit grocers and other vendors from giving customers single use plastic bags. Stores will continue to be able to use recyclable paper bags. There will be little fiscal impact, with slight increased enforcement and administrative costs, but savings in waste management and environmental costs. If the bill is not passed, single use plastic bags will continue to be provided for a fee. Proponents of the bill argue that the bags are a massive environmental hazard and need to be eliminated. Opponents of the bill say it will force consumers to pay a ten cent fee on the recyclable bags that would replace the plastic ones.