In San Diego over the last few months we’ve seen how the ballot process is used to overturn the rule of representative government. The repeal of an increase of a levy on commercial construction that funds affordable housing projects, the overthrow of the Bario Logan Community Plan, and the minimum wage increase and earned sick days ordnance, are all examples of how the business community has learnt how to get its own way through calculation (of low voter turnout) and duplicity.
Ballot initiatives are often tricky to interpret, written to appear like one thing while really being another. Then there are those that mix several proposals together in an attempt to find enough supporters.Propositions attempt to do an end-run around nuance and necessary compromises that are an outcome of the regular legislative process.
So what are we to make of the propositions on this November’s ballot?
Here’s the thinking that comes from the California Democrat Party.
Yes on Proposition 1
WATER QUALITY, SUPPLY, AND INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2014 (CALIFORNIA WATER BOND) — Provides a reliable supply of water to farms, businesses and communities, especially during droughts. It supports economic growth and protects the environment. It is fiscally responsible, is guided by a comprehensive state water plan and does NOT raise taxes.
Yes on Proposition 2
STATE BUDGET. RAINY DAY FUND. LEGISLATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT — Requires annual transfer of state general fund revenues to budget stabilization account. Requires half the revenues be used to repay state debts. Limits use of remaining funds to emergencies or budget deficits. Fiscal Impact: Long-term state savings from faster payment of existing debts. Different levels of state budget reserves, depending on economy and decisions by elected officials. Smaller local reserves for some school districts
Yes on Proposition 45
APPROVAL OF HEALTHCARE INSURANCE CHANGES. INITIATIVE — Requires health insurance rate changes to be approved by Insurance Commissioner before taking effect. Requires sworn statement by health insurer as to accuracy of information submitted to Insurance Commissioner to justify rate changes.
Yes on Proposition 47
CRIMINAL SENTENCES. MISDEMEANOR PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE. — Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for petty theft, receiving stolen property, and forging/writing bad checks when value or amount involved is $950 or less. Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for certain drug possession offenses. Allows felony sentence for these offenses if person has previous conviction for crimes such as rape, murder or child molestation or is a registered sex offender. Requires resentencing for persons serving felony sentences for these offenses unless court finds unreasonable public safety risk.
Yes on Proposition 48
INDIAN GAMING COMPACTS RFERENDUM — This is a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law ratifies two gaming compacts (with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, and the Wiyot Tribe); and it exempts execution of the compacts, certain projects, and intergovernmental agreements from the California Environmental Quality Act. A Support position (Yes vote) supports the law, an Oppose position (No vote) backs the Referendum.
There was only one proposition that generated controversy at the CADEM E-Board meeting in July and the state party decided to stay ‘Neutral on Proposition 46’
DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING OF DOCTORS. MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE. INITIATIVE –Requires drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive test to the California Medical Board. Requires Board to suspend doctor pending investigation of positive test and take disciplinary action if doctor was impaired while on duty. Requires doctors to report any other doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence. Requires health care practitioners to consult state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances. Increases $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits to account for inflation.
The last sentence of the description captures the driver behind the initiative, to increase the pain and suffering cap that has remained fixed for years. Unfortunately in order to garner enough support the ballot authors tied in two other measures they thought popular enough to ensure the initiative passing – mandatory drug testing, and use of a drug history database. Both of these are problematic, expensive, and require more nuance and detail than the broad description provided in the initiative. Both Democrats and Republicans have genuine objections to this ballot measure and I’m surprised the party even gave it a neutral rating. For a detailed examination of the issues, here is a good writeup and here’s a list of the opponents (lots), and supporters (few).
Click here for a list of all the other endorsements, including candidates.