Free Markets, Free People

California Ballot Propositions for 2010

Once again, it’s time to review the ballot propositions for the upcoming election in California.  While this may seem like an item of limited interest to many of you, you should remember that these propositions, in the fullness of time, often appear in other states once California has passed them.

Proposition 19: YES

A YES vote on this measure means: Individuals age 21 or older could, under state law, possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. In addition, the state and local governments could authorize, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana-related activities under certain conditions. These activities would remain illegal under federal law.

Drug prohibition has failed.  Although, I guess that really depends on your definition of failed.  If you’re the head of drug cartel that’s made billions of dollars by supplying prohibited drugs at prices inflated artificially by government action, then I guess it’s been a rousing success.  All depends on your point of view, I suppose.

In any event, marijuana, despite being a Schedule I drug according to the Feds, is probably the least likely candidate for continued prohibition.  Perhaps there’ll be horrific outbreaks of Reefer Madness if this passes, but, you know, I’m willing to risk it.  Besides, as of last week, you can’t even get arrested for it any more in California, as possession of less 1 oz is now an infraction that’ll get you a $100 ticket.  Not even a court appearance.  So, it’s pretty clear that, in the big picture scheme of things, marijuana is pretty small potatoes.

Besides, it’ll set up a really nasty legal and political struggle between California and the Feds, which I think would be fun and instructive to watch.

Proposition 20: YES

Removes elected representatives from process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party. A YES vote on this measure means: The responsibility to determine the boundaries of California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives would be moved to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, a commission established by Proposition 11 in 2008. (Proposition 27 on this ballot also concerns redistricting issues. If both Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.)

California’s redistricting plans have traditionally been made with a keen eye to preserving safe districts for the aging hippies that run the place.  With Prop 11 in 2008, and this proposition, elected politicians will be essentially removed from the redistricting process. One hopes this will result in more bipartisan redistricting that results in more competitive districts.  If not, it can’t be worse than what we’ve already got.

Proposition 21: NO

A YES vote on this measure means: An $18 annual surcharge would be added to the amount paid when a person registers a motor vehicle. The surcharge revenues would be used to provide funding for state park and wildlife conservation programs. Vehicles subject to the surcharge would have free admission and parking at all state parks.

A new tax–excuse me, “surcharge”–on one of the most highly taxed population in the country?  Uh…no. Raising taxes is always the politicians’ answer to fiscal problems.  Instead, let’s force them to cut spending–especially the unsustainable pension agreements for public workers, some of whom can retire at 50 with 85% of their salaries.  The state of California is already taking a huge chunk of money from the taxpayers, and their cry is always for more.  It’s past time for our cry to be , “Enough.”

Proposition 22: YES

A YES vote on this measure prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services.  The state’s authority to use or redirect state fuel tax and local property tax revenues would be significantly restricted.

California’s General Fund tramples on every type of revenue in the state.  Local property taxes? Right into the General Fund’s maw. Fuel taxes to pay for transportation and infrastructure? Right into the General Fund. That has to stop.  I note that the teachers and firefighters unions, etc., are against it, so I assume it must be a good thing.

Proposition 23: YES

A YES vote on this measure means: Certain existing and proposed regulations authorized under state law (“Assembly Bill 32”) to address global warming would be suspended. These regulations would remain suspended until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or lower for one year.

This proposition would, in effect, completely gut the global warming bill’s provisions.  Requiring an unemployment rate in California to remain at 5.5% for one year means that the bill will, as a practical matter, never be implemented.  So, the billions in costs for CO2 reduction, etc., will never be imposed.

Proposition 24: NO

A YES vote on this measure means: Three business tax provisions will return to what they were before 2008 and 2009 law changes. As a result: (1) a business will be less able to deduct losses in one year against income in other years, (2) a multistate business will have its California income determined by a calculation using three factors, and (3) a business will not be able to share tax credits with related businesses.

Another tax hike.  Go screw.

Proposition 25: NO

A YES vote on this measure means: The Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget bill to the Governor would be lowered from two-thirds to a majority of each house of the Legislature.

I’m happy forcing a 2/3 majority for the budget, especially since California is a one-party state.  It’s really the only way to force bipartisanship on the legislature, and it gives the minority party a chance to do something besides getting run over roughshod.

Proposition 26: YES

A YES vote on this measure means: The definition of taxes would be broadened to include many payments currently considered to be fees or charges. As a result, more state and local proposals to increase revenues would require approval by two-thirds of each house of the Legislature or by local voters.

This makes it harder to raise fees or surcharges without explicit voter approval, or a supermajority in the legislature.  I have to live within a budget, let them try it for a while, instead of simply using my wallet to fill up the holes they create with overspending.

Proposition 27: NO

A YES vote on this measure means: The responsibility to determine the boundaries of State Legislature and Board of Equalization districts would be returned to the Legislature. The Citizens Redistricting Commission, established by Proposition 11 in 2008 to perform this function, would be eliminated. (Proposition 20 on this ballot also concerns redistricting issues. If both Proposition 27 and Proposition 20 are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.)

Nope.  We already decided that we didn’t want politicians to create safe districts. Let’s keep this as a technical, bipartisan process.

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13 Responses to California Ballot Propositions for 2010

  • Prop 20:  I’d say no to anything that entrenches the two parties into deeper control of the government.  Imho, parties like we have now weren’t intended by the founders.  And the two biggest parties definitely weren’t intended by the founders.
    Unfortunately people’s impulse to cast everything into an us/them football match is hard to overcome.

    • I think I have to agree.  In the short term, you’re right, Dale, adding some layer(s) of non-D and non-R representation is a better alternative than what’s going on right now, but in the long term public choice theory wins out — i.e. regardless of what letter follows a rep’s name, the power to shape districts is large and leverageable.
      Of course, it needs to be said that Prop 20 is definitely an advance over the status quo.  Therefore, voting “yes” fits in with the pragmatic “vote for the option that tends towards the most freedom.”  Yet, I can’t help but think that this may be one of those cases where “winning” (viz. Prop 20 passes) may make it more difficult to get the reform that’s really necessary.
      In a way, it’s sort of like the Senatorial race in DE.  O’Donnell is clearly not the ideal candidate, and she will probably lose.  But if, instead, Mike Castle had won the nomination then it would be that much harder to get rid of him and to achieve the change that’s really necessary.  Because O’Donnell won the nomination, there are now several much more potentially positive outcomes, including (1) O’Donnell wins and votes against every spending bill, (2) Coons wins, supports the Reid/Pelosi agenda thus inviting more conservative challenges to the seat, and (3) regardless of who wins, fiscally conservative (and sufficiently less nutball) candidates vie for the Republican nomination (after seeing that someone like O’Donnell can win).
      On some level, it seems to me that voting “yes” on Prop 20 is like voting for Mike Castle.  It does tend slightly towards the desired end of of less entrenched politico-controlled legislation (or whatever), but it may actually have a dampening effect on the ability to enact true reform.

      • You need competitive districts, not districts that are currently set up so they are safe. This is a step in the right direction.

        • Unless a 3rd reformative party comes along and the democrats and republicans conspire to suppress them.  If one came along, the installed party would split districts in the reformer’s favor at first at the expense of their bigger opponent.  So there would be a temptation to give a new part a leg up, at first.  But under joint control, they’ll stifle a new party in its infancy.

          • Usually they simply co-opt the issue that lead to the 3rd party’s founding. We already see some Democrats going that way and the GOP too.
            3rd party to me means that you will end up with a coalition of leftists and moderates, not a swing to the right…see the UK for example.

  • Proposition 19: After years of nanny state diatribes about the evils of smoking tobacco, now we start a generation of new smokers.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter if they are smoking oregano, smoking isn’t good for you, period.
    Proposition 20 & Proposition 27: Aren’t politicians citizens, too. … and citizens are politicians. This, if passed will eventually become a nightmare, as Prop 27 seems to show.
    Proposition 23: A recent story indicated that the calculations for diesel emissions was off by 340%.  This kind of sloppy work by bureaucrats is an invitation to tyranny.  Citizens should have the right to sue everybody involved with placing restrictions on anybody.
    Proposition 25: no matter what this level is, politicians in Sacramento will figure out how to make the process look and be pure “evil.”
    Proposition 21 & Proposition 26: taxes by prop is a great way to nickel and dime everybody to death.

  • But if they legalize pot, won’t that lead to a sharp increase in sales of snack foods, thus running afoul of attempts to curb unhealthy dietary habits?  Obamacare isn’t gonna like this!!!

    • The plan is to nationalize those industries. We will be a nation of yeoman pot-farmers with all industry provided by the state.

  • Dale, do you plan on updating this post after the elections so we can see how it all ends up?
    I’d be curious to see, but I don’t keep up with California politics enough.

  • You couldn’t have done this a few days ago? I put my ballot in the mail yesterday.

    I was really confused when I read your point on Prop 26. I didn’t recall anything like that. I still have my sample ballot, which reads:

    [quote] Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by two-thirds vote. Fees include those that address adverse impacts on society or the environment caused by the fee-payer’s business.[/quote]

    I think I voted “yes” on that, because it is my nature to vote for whatever makes it harder for legislature to do things, heh.

    I also voted no on 20. I didn’t like the language that said it removes elected representatives from the process. Plus, it sounds like we already have said commission anyways (from the language in Prop 27); I just don’t like isolating permanently a very political thing away from elected representatives. I don’t like having political appointees being so powerful. But I also see the badness in having said elected representatives making it so the people they are representing would vote for them regardless. So I voted no on 27 too. If the representatives were responsible enough for once to potentially limit somewhat their own power through creating such a commission themselves, good on them. This whole republic thing means we elect people we trust to use their own good judgment for the best of the state, not be tossed by every breeze of public opinion. Is that inconsistent? Perhaps. But it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

    That doesn’t mean I trust politicians though. Screw those guys.

  • Smoking produces two green house gasses that are altering our atmosphere and are directly related to climate change; it is just one more challenge for the world to over come.

    How could anyone in good conscience vote for Proposition 19 but against Proposition 23 ??