Lengthy Ballot Shaping Up for November

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The November ballot is likely to include lots of issues for California voters to decide.

So far there are two measures placed on the ballot by the Legislature and six by proponents gathering sufficient petition signatures.

Among proposals eligible to be circulated for signatures are initiatives to legalize recreational use of marijuana, increase the minimum wage and extend the income tax increase approved by Proposition 30.

On the Ballot

Legislative Proposals

The Legislature placed on the ballot proposals to:

• Kick legislators out of office for bad conduct.

• Remove from law provisions specifying how bilingual education immersion programs were to function. The deleted provisions were adopted via Proposition 227 of 1998 but later overturned by the courts.

Initiatives

Proponents have submitted petitions signed by enough registered voters to qualify the following initiative proposals for the November ballot:

• A California Chamber of Commerce-supported measure that makes it more difficult to divert federal Medi-Cal matching funds to programs other than health care. (*Proposition 52)

• A CalChamber-supported $9 billion school bond: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public schools; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; $2 billion for community college facilities. (*Proposition 51)

• A CalChamber-opposed proposal to require statewide voter approval for revenue bonds used to build California infrastructure projects exceeding $2 billion. (*Proposition 53)

The goal of the initiative is to stop construction of a conveyance system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but the initiative’s impact goes far beyond that project. If passed, this measure would stall or stop vitally needed infrastructure projects all over the state, including water reliability projects, road safety and bridge repairs, university and college buildings. No exceptions would be allowed for the state to respond to natural disasters or emergencies.

• A referendum asking voters to overturn the legislation banning single-use plastic bags.

• An initiative to require condoms to be used by performers in adult films.

• An initiative that prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Awaiting Signature Verification

Awaiting verification that sufficient valid signatures were submitted is a referendum to overturn the aid in dying law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last year. The law allows a terminally ill, mentally competent adult to obtain a prescription for a life-ending drug if two doctors confirm the diagnosis and other safeguards are met.

Possible Initiatives

Major proposals that may find their way onto the November ballot include measures dealing with:

• Legalizing recreational use of marijuana. The CalChamber will be making sure any proposal doesn’t interfere with employers’ ability to enforce policies needed for a safe workplace.

One frontrunner is backed by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and has received financial support from former Facebook President Sean Parker. The measure also is supported by marijuana advocacy groups, which abandoned the initiative they filed.

• Income tax. A couple of initiative proposals filed would extend the income tax increase approved by Proposition 30. One proposal is sponsored by teachers; the other is sponsored by the hospital association and a health care union. Both would move the highest income tax rate up to 15.3% (versus the previous high of 10.3%, which was increased to 13.3% by Proposition 30).

It has been reported that the California Teachers Association, the sponsor of one proposal, is in talks to get some of the revenue distribution for Medi-Cal rate increases and is trying to find a proposal that will work.

Property tax. A proposal has been filed to impose a tax surcharge on commercial and residential property worth more than $3 million. In essence, this would be a tax increase on business properties, similar to a split roll. The revenue, estimated at $7 billion per year, would be used to fund social programs providing a safety net.

• Cigarette tax. One proposal increases the cigarette tax by $2 per pack and the equivalent on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to fund certain Medi-Cal and health care programs.

A second proposal targets cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to increase funding for certain health care programs, tobacco use/prevention/control programs, University of California physician training and dental disease prevention programs. The proposal also seeks to exclude the revenues gathered from the Proposition 98 funding guarantee for schools.

• Minimum wage. Two very similar initiatives to increase the minimum wage have been filed. Both would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, but one would expand the minimum number of paid sick leave days from 3 days per year to 6 days per year. The proposals were filed by two factions of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a public workers union.

• Legislative Process. The initiative would require all proposed legislation to be in print for 72 hours (3 days) before the Legislature votes and require all legislative proceedings to be recorded and be available within 24 hours.

• Campaign Finance. The proposal would increase fines for violations of the political reform act.

Water Bond. The proposal would benefit water recycling, conservation and open space purchases.

*Proposition numbers for the November 2016 ballot added 8/11/16.

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