Sunday, October 09, 2005

California propositions

There are eight Propositions scheduled for a Special Election, November 8, 2005 in the State of California. Some are aimed at budget adjustments, while one falls under the penumbra of abortion rights, and one is related to the affordability of prescription drugs.

This review is intended as a quick guide to voting, with recommendations on the way to vote based on my own jaundiced view of the Initiative’s merit as a native Californian, with no agenda but the quality of life in the great State of California. Broadly speaking, I’m not in favor of the Proposition system, but it’s what we’ve got, so let’s see what’s what this go-around.

Some Notes
All of these Propositions were brought to the ballot by so-called ‘special interests,’ but when you get down to it, every single citizen is a member of a special interest group, even if the membership is a party of one. Some of these bills seem to have been hand-crafted by lawyers working for corporations with vested interests, while some others seem to have been brought forward by genuine consumer rights groups.

Don’t be fooled by the cute titles, as most are deliberately designed to obfuscate the true intent of the law. Follow the links for the actual bills, source materials and other pertinent information.

As always, read the Secretary of State’s Legislative Analyst’s view for cost impact and potential public harm. You might also want to visit The League of Women Voters of California for some analysis. They're usually pretty fair on any given issue. Pay no attention to the TV ads, they’re designed to confuse you and make you weak. Vote with your head, but consult your heart as well. This is your state, your democracy, live here wisely. Thank you.

Prop Number - Legislative Name – Summary – Way to Vote

Prop 73 Parents Right to Know and Child Protection Initiative
Parental notification (abortion rights)
Pay attention here: this is an amendment to the State Constitution, and it defines ‘abortion’ as causing the death of a child as “conceived, but not yet born.” Rather than address the issue of why young women get pregnant, it is well-meaning but intrusive, designed to throw up another roadblock in the sphere of women’s rights. This legal solution comes from “conservative values” people who throw laws at problems of race and gender that they can’t or won’t face in open public debate.
It’s sneaky language is designed to trump Roe v. Wade but could also cause a raft of problems down the road because the use of RU-486 (“morning after pill”) would fall under the definition of ‘abortion,’ thereby banning its use without parental or judicial notification. Very troubling privacy rights issues and probably based in racism. Sponsored by John Birch Society-like entities.
Bad idea.

Prop 74 Put the Kids First Act

Reduces probationary period for first time teachers
Complete red herring, does nothing for quality education, certainly guaranteed to increase local school administrative costs. Prime example of what is wrong with the Proposition system. Why it’s on the ballot is a mystery to me.
Bad idea.
Prop 75 The Public Employees Right to Approve Use of Union Dues for Political Campaign Purposes Act

Attempt to modify existing election funding law to favor corporations over labor, embarrass non-union employees while emasculating union influence over labor conditions. Bad idea.
Prop 76 California Live Within Our Means Act

Tax reduction, funding of education, police, first responders
Good idea, bad execution. Could easily (and probably will) result in permanent reductions in education funding at governor’s sole discretion. Shifts funding for education, firefighting and police services to counties, virtually guaranteeing reduction in services forever, while locking in pork barrel projects.
Really bad legislation.

Prop 77 Redistricting Reform: The Voter Empowerment Act

Changes schedule of redistricting by clever system of endless postponements, potentially disenfranchising many, while ensuring incumbents get to ‘pick their own voters.’ Way too clever by half. May be on ballot illegally. Informative article here.
It stinks.
Prop 78 California State Pharmacy Assistance Program (Cal RX)

Prescription drug costs reduction program
Alleged costs reduction program legislation written by lobbyists for the giant pharmaceuticals. Need I say more?
Corporate dodge.
Prop 79 Cheaper Prescription Drugs For California Act (Cal RX Plus)

Prescription drugs costs reduction program
Written by a consumer activist group, this bill forces drug companies to offer lower prices and ties in discount pricing with the Medi-Cal program while enlarging the eligibility pool
of entitled people. There will probably be a spike in costs to the state as the program starts up which will fall significantly over the course of the next several years. A boon to many.
Good idea.
Prop 80 The Repeal of Electricity Deregulation and Blackout Prevention Act

Re-regulates the electrical production industry
An act that does what it says it does! Regulates the price of electricity to the mass market, prevents Enron-like price gouging and market-cornering. Mandates increased alternative energy production with a specific timetable. Really doesn’t go all the way in
imposing stiff fines for failure to perform, but it’s a good start.
Excellent idea.

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