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Saturday, September 11, 2010

I like you, do you like me? Check YES or NO (Part 1)


Things are happening here in California, and it might be worth your while to keep up with them. The November 2nd elections could bring sweeping changes to the state, with everything from our next governor and Secretary of State to our Attorney General and state senators on the ballot. There will also be a number of propositions, some of which have the ability to impact our everyday lives.
There are two ways for a proposition to come before the voters, the first being simply put there by the California legislature, who has the ability to propose changes in law and constitutional amendments via the ballot box. The other way is by a California voter to go through the Initiative process: writing the text of the law, request a title and summary from the Attorney General, circulating the proposed initiative and collecting enough signatures (for an Initiative Statute 433,971 are needed, for a Constitutional Amendment 694,354), and finally filing the proposition with county election officials.
Here is a breakdown of the propositions we are looking at this November. There are some heated debates going on, and people will twist information like silly putty to get you to vote one way or another. This simple yes/no breakdown of the nine propositions was compiled by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, a non-partisan advising board, and it is a pretty solid basis for forming your own opinions on each proposition.
Proposition 19
Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed. Initiative Statute.
Proposal
This measure changes state law to (1) legalize the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for personal use by individuals age 21 or older, and (2) authorize various commercial marijuana-related activities under certain conditions. Despite these changes to state law, these marijuana-related activities would continue to be prohibited under federal law. These federal prohibitions could still be enforced by federal agencies. It is not known to what extent the federal government would continue to enforce them. Currently, no other state permits commercial marijuana-related activities for non-medical purposes.
Yes/No Statement
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.
A NO vote on this measure means: The possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use and commercial marijuana-related activities would remain illegal under state law, unless allowed under the state’s existing medical marijuana law.
Proposition 20
Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Proposal
This measure amends the Constitution to change the redistricting process for California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives. Specifically, the measure removes the authority for congressional redistricting from the Legislature and instead gives this authority to the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The commission would draw congressional districts essentially as it draws other district lines under Proposition 11. The commission, for example, could not draw congressional districts in order to favor incumbents, political candidates, or political parties. The commission also is to consider the geographic integrity of cities, counties, neighborhoods, and communities of interest. As under Proposition 11, compliance with federal law would be required.
Yes/No Statement
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.)
A NO vote on this measure means: The responsibility to determine the boundaries of California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives would remain with the Legislature.
Proposition 21
Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles. Initiative Statute.
Proposal
This measure places an $18 annual surcharge on all vehicles registered on or after January 1, 2011, except for commercial vehicles, trailers, and trailer coaches. The surcharge would be collected when annual vehicle registration fees are paid. These surcharge revenues would be deposited into the newly created State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund. The measure expressly prohibits these funds from being used for purposes other than state parks and wildlife conservation.
Yes/No Statement
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 NO vote on this measure means: State park and wildlife conservation programs would continue to be funded through existing state and local funding sources. Admission and parking fees could continue to be charged for vehicles entering state parks.
Proposition 22
Prohibits the State from Taking Funds Used for Transportation or Local Government Projects and Services. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Proposal
This measure reduces or eliminates the state’s authority to: Use state fuel tax revenues to pay debt service on state transportation bonds. Borrow or change the distribution of state fuel tax revenues. Redirect redevelopment agency property taxes to any other local government. Temporarily shift property taxes from cities, counties, and special districts to schools. Use vehicle license fee (VLF) revenues to reimburse local governments for state mandated costs. As a result, this measure affects resources in the state’s General Fund and transportation funds. The General Fund is the state’s main funding source for schools, universities, prisons, health, and social services programs. Transportation funds are placed in separate accounts and used to pay for state and local transportation programs.
Yes/No Statement
A YES vote on this measure means: The state’s authority to use or redirect state fuel tax and local property tax revenues would be significantly restricted.
A NO vote on this measure means: The state’s current authority over state fuel tax and local property tax revenues would not be affected.

Next week I'll go through the remaining propositions.


For the full reports, visit the LAO website http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/main.aspx. Again, to register to vote, visit http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm, the deadline for registering to vote before the November 2nd elections is October 18th.

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