Taking the Initiative
A Metro Santa Cruz Guide to Voting the Propositions
Recently, you probably found a copy of the California secretary of state's Voter Information Guide--a 156-page pamphlet that details this year's state propositions--stuffed into your mailbox. While we hope y'all spend some cozy evenings reading every last argument contained therein, we fear you may well fall asleep before completing said task, thanks to some pretty ponderous prose. With that in mind, we herewith offer you a face-saving guide to our choices for this year's collection of 16 (count 'em!) initiatives.
P.S. As it happens, the first two props we're going to discuss did not appear in the above mentioned official voter guide, but will be popping up in registered voters' mailboxes as a supplement.
P.P.S. We don't discuss all the propositions in numerical order, because Propositions 1a and 65, 60 and 62, 68 and 70, are best considered as pairs.
Proposition 1A and 65
Proposition 1A seeks to protect local governments by prohibiting the state from shifting money from cities and counties into the state general fund. It replaces Proposition 65, whose original authors had second thoughts, and so decided to orphan it in favor of Proposition 1A. If you vote yes on both measures, the one with the most votes passes, so it's worthwhile to choose one measure over the other.
Recommendation: Yes on 1A,Noon65
Propositions 60 and 62
Proposition 62 seeks to reform the primary system so that voters, no matter what party affiliation, can select any candidate they wish. The top two vote-getters advance to the general election. While it hurts small parties and special interests, it eliminates the prospect of a popular vote loser like George Bush from winning because of Nader votes. Proposition 60 would keep things the way they are now. P.S. Where's Instant Runoff Voting in all this?
Recommendation: Yes on 62, No on 60
Sponsored by the Legislature, Proposition 59 constitutionalizes the public's access to state information--except information generated by the Legislature itself, which is exempt from the legislation. Still, it's a good thing.
Recommendation: Yes on 59
Mandates that proceeds from the sale of state property be used to pay down bond debt.
Recommendation: Yes on 60A
Authorizes the state to issue $750 million in general obligation bonds to support capital improvements at children's hospitals throughout the state. With interest, the estimated total tab for taxpayers is $1.5 billion--a worthwhile investment, we think.
Recommendation: Yes on 61
Places a 1 percent tax on personal incomes above $1 million to provide dedicated funding for expansion of state and county mental health services and programs, decimated from years of neglect. Yeah!
Recommendation: Yes on 63
A transparent end-run around the state's unfair competition law that would prohibit parties not directly injured by a corporation's bad actions--such as attorneys who file environmental protection lawsuits--from filing such suits.
Recommendation: No on 64
Seeks to modify 1994's "three strikes" law by requiring increased sentences only when the current conviction is for a specified violent or serious felony. The initiative also increases the penalty for sexual predators of children by requiring a 25-year-to-life sentence for anyone convicted of a second sexual offense--in other words, two strikes, they're out.
Recommendation: Yes on 66
Boosts existing surcharges on telephone use by 3 percent, raising $500 million annually to pay physicians, hospitals and clinics for uncompensated emergency care and to fund other first-responder services. Limited to 50 cents on residential lines, unlimited on cell and business phones.
Recommendation: Yes on 67
Propositions 68 and 70
Both use the lure of easy money in the form of a tax on Indian gaming revenue to entice voters. Never mind that numerous studies have shown that lower-income people--those who can least afford it--tend to gamble more than middle- and upper-income earners.
Recommendation: No on 68, No on 70
Expands the state's collection of DNA samples retroactively to include all felons, some nonfelons and, starting in 2009, adults and juveniles arrested for--not convicted of, mind you--certain crimes.
Recommendation: No on 69
Funds stem-cell research, which some day could create cures for everything from Alzheimer's to spinal cord injuries. Authorizes $3 billion in general obligation bonds with a total taxpayer tab of $6 billion. Sure it sounds expensive, but Proposition 71 will make California the leading place for such research and create thousands of jobs in the process. Right on.
Recommendation: Yes on 71
Essentially a referendum on Democratic Sen. John Burton's SB 2, which passed shortly before Gov. Gray Davis' recall. Requires employers of 50 or more workers to provide employee health care, and those of 200 or more workers to extend benefits to employees' families. Signed in 2003, Burton's bill will take effect in 2006, if Proposition 72 passes.
Recommendation: Yes on 72
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