Look, you’re busy.  And there’s a metric shit-ton of propositions this year.  And your vote actually matters on these (unlike, surprise, your presidential vote in California).

So, head over to Ballotpedia.org and spend a few hours researching these bad boys. 

OR

Read some of my thoughts about them and decide for yourself.  

Here’s a quick disclaimer about me:

I’ve been called a cynical left-wing atheist commie.  While, these statements about me are not exactly true, it is 100 percent true that I’ve been called these things.  Often.

 

Proposition 51-Public School Facility Bonds

Who’s supporting: Basically everyone.

Who’s against: Gov. Brown, Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Peace and Freedom Party

Where the money behind the prop is coming from: Construction-related business interests.

This is a great idea, right?  Sell bonds to raise money for public schools? Fuck yea, I’m in! But wait, why is this the first public school bond to appear as a ballot initiative from citizens and not from CA legislators?  And why is Gov. Brown opposing this?

If you look closely into the allocation of the money the bonds would raise, the reasons become pretty clear: $500 million to fund the creation of Charter Schools and the lack of any guarantee of equitable distribution of the funds to all districts.  The likely effect if this passes is that well-funded school districts will hire consultants to secure as much as of this grant money as possible, while poorer districts will get little to nothing. 

So, what? Life ain’t fair.  Any money for schools is a good idea.

I disagree.  Income inequality in this country is a real problem, particularly because, while it’s easy to spot it in the macro-sense, the day-to-day policies that contribute to it are harder to identify.  This is one of them.  The solution I’d propose is to raise the bonds and tie them to the specific needs of specific school districts, guaranteeing districts, rich or poor, the same opportunity.  And fuck Charter Schools.  They overwhelmingly leave minority communities on the outside looking in.  Let’s not continue to privatize our education system, our hospitals, and our prisons.

My Vote: NO on 51

 

Proposition 52-Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal

Who’s supporting: Literally everyone except for Republican Tom McClintock, the Libertarian Party, and 2 Healthcare Worker Unions.

Who’s against: See above.

Where the money’s coming from: A bunch of Healthcare Companies

This proposition basically requires voter approval to divert funds from hospital fees that would normally go towards matching federal government money that funds Medi-Cal services.  The research I did seems to suggest this is a good idea.  Basically, in 2009 the state started charging hospitals a fee that helped unlock $2 billion of federal funding for Medi-Cal, which helps low income people afford health care.  Sometimes, the state has diverted this money into the general fund.  This initiative would prevent that from happening unless we, the people, approve it.

My Vote: YES on 52

 

Proposition 53-Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion

Who’s supporting:  California Republican Party, Libertarian Party, many conservative PACs

Who’s against: California Democratic Party, Green Party, NAACP, a bunch of liberal organizations.

Where the money’s coming from: The initiative was brought by Dean “Dino” and Joan Cortopassi.  They are multi-millionaire farmers from Stockton who have called this their crusade against California’s debt.  It’s more than a bit problematic, seeing how if this passes, the duo, and many like them, who are embroiled in a bitter battle over the Sacramento River Delta’s resources, stand to benefit considerably.

Here’s some general knowledge: California raises money by selling two kinds of bonds: 1) general obligation bonds, repaid out of the general fund (read: taxes) and requires voter approval and 2) revenue bonds, repaid using revenue from fees or other charges paid by the users of the project.  The example of a revenue bond I keep seeing everywhere is a revenue bond issued to pay for a new highway would be repaid by mandating a toll be in place for users of said highway.

So is this a good idea, requiring voter approval to raise these bonds?  Most fiscal conservatives and business people tend to agree it is.  At its core, this proposition is indicative of how these people view the role of government.  Many wealthy people like small government, less regulation, power to the people, etc.  I don’t blame them.  These policies help keep them wealthy.  I tend to lean towards enabling State governments to spend money where it deems it’s needed.  Voting “yes” on prop 53 would hamper the state’s ability to do that.  Conversely, I’m not a supporter of the “blank check” philosophy for state legislators, but that’s why voters ALREADY VOTE on general obligation bonds, which are not earmarked for specific projects generally.

My vote: NO on 53

 

Proposition 54-Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote

Who’s supporting: California Republican Party, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Green Party

Who’s against: California Democratic Party

Where the money’s coming from: This dude Charles Munger Jr. is responsible for this one.  He’s a major GOP fundraiser who is interested in funding a more “moderate” Republican Party.  He’s also a physicist at Stanford and one of the heirs to the billion-dollar Berkshire Hathaway Holding Company.

This proposition is about legislative transparency and would require legislators to print copies and post online any Bill going to vote 72 hours in advance, as well as make available audio recordings of their sessions online.  My research into the arguments for and against this bill seem to concede the same point:  this prop isn’t perfect, but it does make it easier for the public to keep track of what’s happening in Sacramento.  The cynic in me laughs at this idea, because I can’t imagine a single one of us reading impending Bills on the State’s website.  But perhaps this is like having a surveillance camera at your business.  It’s IN CASE shit goes down, there’s a record of it.  The prop doesn’t seem to cost us much money, either. 

My Vote: YES on 54

 

Proposition 55-Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase

Who’s supporting: Most Democrats, Green Party, School Districts, PTAs, poor people

Who’s against: Most Republicans, rich people

Where the money’s coming from: Us, the taxpayers, as the legislation has proposed this as an initiated constitutional amendment on our behalf.

This prop extends an income tax increase originally put in place in 2012 by prop 30.  It does not extend the sales tax increase that was also part of Prop 30 and only affects people making over $250,000 a year.  The money raised by this tax goes to schools (minus $2 Billion that goes to Medi-Cal): 89% to K-12, 11% to community colleges.

Since this tax was levied in 2012 it has brought in an additional $6 Billion a year for schools.  Why would we discontinue it?

My Vote: YES on 55

 

Proposition 56-Tobacco Tax Increase

Who’s supporting: California Democratic Party, California Hospitals Committee on Issues

Who’s against: Phillip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, California Republican Party

Where the money’s coming from: California Democratic Party for, Tobacco companies against (Big Tobacco has outspent the “for” side 5-1)

This prop would raise the price of cigs $2.  Our current tax on a pack of smokes is $0.87.  The national average is $1.65.  The revenue generated by this tax would go to the General Fund, tobacco abuse prevention, healthcare services for low-income persons, environmental issues caused by cigarette waste, breast cancer research and prevention, and early childhood development programs.

This is a no-brainer.  Smokers, you know you’re gonna smoke whether the pack is $5.85 or $7.85.  Hell, my wife smokes so this is gonna cost me, too.  Just think about this: if you vote No on this prop, you are aligning yourself with two of the evilest corporations of all time.  Fuck that.

My vote: YES on 56

 

Proposition 57-Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Requirements

Who’s supporting: Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrats, Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party

Who’s Against: Guess who? Republicans! And Cops!

Where the money’s coming from: Gov. Jerry Brown

This prop aims to help reduce our criminally (pun-intended) overcrowded prisons by increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of non-violent crimes.  It also proposes to allow judges, not prosecutors, to determine whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.  It would likely save us tens of millions of dollars a year by reducing prison population.

In 2011 the United States Supreme Court ruled against California’s prison system, saying overcrowding violated the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). I acknowledge that I am to the left of most on this issue, mainly because I don’t think we should be imprisoning anyone on non-violent drug-related charges.  I also think that Three Strikes and the War on Drugs are racist plots to jail minorities and are essentially nothing more than modern day slavery schemes.  This prop is a start to begin fixing the fucked-up Prison Industrial Complex.

My Vote: YES on 57

 

Proposition 58-Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education

Who’s supporting: Democrats, Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party, Teachers, Motherfuckers Trying to Learn English (this shit is hard!)

Who’s against: There is no official opposition to this Prop

Where the money’s coming from: Teacher and Educations PACs

This prop is designed to repeal Proposition 227 of 1998, which outlawed the use of Non-English languages for teaching purposes in public schools.  At the time of the prop’s original passing, the majority of Californians (read: white people) thought that English immersion was the only way to get these damned immigrants speaking our language.  This has been emphatically disproved.  Schools should be allowed to utilize multiple programs and resources in order to educate those whose first language is not English. 

My vote: YES on 58

Proposition 59-Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question

Who’s supporting:  People who think Corporations’ money should not be protected by the 1st Amendment

Who’s against: Corporations

Where the money’s coming from: Its anonymous, that’s the fucking problem.

Look, this isn’t a real Prop.  In reality, passing this does nothing but encourage the state’s elected officials to use their influence to try to get Citizens United overturned.  If you don’t know, the Citizens United ruling protects Corporations’ use of money under “Free Speech” which in turn allows them to spend billions of dollars to buy elections.  It’s a very serious problem and needs to be overturned if we ever are going to have a chance at true democracy in this country.  Sometimes metaphorical victories are a start.

My Vote: YES on 59

 

Proposition 60-Condoms In Pornographic Films

Who’s supporting: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Who’s against: Both Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians, Free Speech Coalition, and many LGBT organizations

Where the money’s coming from: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

This proposition aims to make sure all dudes where condoms when they fuck people in pornos.  The idea is to make work places safer.  It will also require pornography companies to pay for certain healthcare requirements and checkups.

Here’s why this Prop is problematic: it likely reduces state and local revenue by loss of taxes as the Industry moves elsewhere, while costing us more money to now regulate this Industry.  The Prop also opens the door for massive amounts of litigation towards the State and pornography companies.  Of course we want sex workers to enjoy the same work place protection as everyone else.  That’s why they are already required to have official and current documentation on-set that they are not suffering from any STDs or HIV.  This Prop seems to be more headache and costly than it’s worth.

My Vote: NO on 60

 

HERE’S WHERE SHIT GETS DICEY

 Prop 61-Drug Price Standards

Who’s supporting: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Bernie Sanders, Green Party, lots of County Democratic Parties

Who’s against: Prescription Drug Companies, Republicans, Libertarians, San Francisco Democratic Party, Many LGBT organizations

Where the money’s coming from: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

This Proposition is about regulating prescription drug prices here in California by linking their cost to the same price the VA pays.  This is by far the most expensive ballot measure in 2016 and could be the costliest battle of all time.  And boy, is it a fucking doozy.  If this passes, state agencies like Medi-Cal and CalPERS would only be allowed to buy drugs at the same price as the VA pays for them.  The measure does not apply to individuals.

In theory, this is a good idea for controlling costs of prescription drugs, something the State spent $3.8 Billion dollars on last year alone.  Plus, voting for this measure means a “fuck you” to pharmaceutical companies, who are just about as evil as Big Tobacco.  However, it could have unintended consequences because the measure doesn’t require drug companies to sell to the state.  Basically, we don’t know if this measure passes whether the drugs people are currently depending on for their physical and mental health will continue to be made available by the pharmaceutical companies.  Our “fuck you” to Big Pharma could easily be returned with a “well, fuck you, too, then.”  I’m not on any prescription drugs, so I’ve no horse in this game, but in doing my research into this measure, over and over people are just shrugging and saying, “your guess is as good as mine.”  This could save us shit tons of cash or it could totally fuck people.  No one knows.

At the end of the day, I just can’t in good conscience side with pharmaceutical companies so I’m saying (fingers crossed AF): YES on 61

 

Propositions 62 & 66 DEATH PENALTY

Both of these Propositions are regarding the Death Penalty here in California, so I’m going to deal with them together.

Prop 62, if passed, repeals the Death Penalty.  Prop 66, if passed, reforms the Death Penalty.  If they both pass, the one with the most “yes” votes supersedes the other.

Here’s a brief history of capitol punishment in California.  Right now, we’re one of 31 states where the death penalty is legal.  In 1972, our state Supreme Court ruled the state’s capital punishment system unconstitutional.  However, Prop 7 in 1978 reinstated the death penalty.  Californians denied the ban of the death penalty again in 2012 with Proposition 34.

What everyone agrees on is that the current system in California is fucked up.  So whether we repeal or reform, something must be done (and most likely will be).  Personally, I’m against capital punishment.  The margin of error is too high, too many potentially innocent people have been executed, it’s expensive AF and it hasn’t been proven to deter violent crime.  Vote your conscience on this, but I’m voting:

YES on 62

Abstaining on 66

 

Proposition 63-Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large Capacity Magazine Ban

Who’s supporting: California Democratic Party

Who’s against: NRA

Where the money’s coming from: Both of the above.

This measure would require people who wish to purchase ammunition to first obtain a permit.  Ammunition dealers would then have to check this permit before selling the individual ammo.  It also would eliminate several exemptions to the large capacity magazine band and increase the penalty for possessing them.  Lastly it closes a loophole unintendedly caused by Prop 47 in 2014 that made stealing a firearm valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor.  All firearm thefts would now be felonies, no matter the value of said firearm.

To know how to vote on this one all you need to do is ask yourself these questions: 1) Do you think the members of Duck Dynasty are role models? 

2) Did Sandy Hook make you go out and buy a gun?

3) Are you a member of the NRA?

If you answered “no” to the above, then join me in voting: YES on 63

 

Proposition 64-Marijuana Legalization

Who’s supporting: Potheads

Who’s against: Squares

Where the money’s coming from: Jack In The Box’s Late Night Munchie Menu

Obviously, this issue is more serious than I’ve set it up to be.  Also, full disclosure: I smoke pot regularly, probably in the neighborhood of 4 times a week.

But allow me to make a rational case for the legalization of the sweet, sweet reefer. 

1. Pot is a naturally occurring substance.  If you believe in God, and that God created this world, and you believe the Bible when it says in Genesis that God saw his creation and “it was good,” then you must believe that God likes weed.  If you don’t believe in God, then it’s still a natural herb with many medicinal and practical uses, far better for you than the soda you’re currently drinking and the hamburger you just snarfed.

2. Pot was originally criminalized to marginalize Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century.

3. Pot is safer than alcohol, which we regulate and tax.  Why would we not regulate and tax pot?

4. Legalization would create jobs in Northern California, a place that has been decimated by the loss of logging jobs and other economic depressors.

5. The tax on pot only applies to recreational use.  Those with medical marijuana cards will not be subject to the tax.  Doc 420 patients, beware, though.  It will be harder to get medical cards.

6. Legalization of Pot is a step towards ending the War on Drugs.  In case you didn’t know already, the War on Drugs has been a massive, expensive failure.

7. In the words of Peter Tosh: “It’s the only cure for asthma, ya”

**Tosh is a reggae artist, not a doctor.

My vote: YES on 64 FINALLY

 

Proposition 65 & 67

These are the plastic bag props and they’re fucking confusing, so read carefully.

Prop 65 dedicates the revenue from single use bag sales to a wildlife conservation fund.

Prop 67 upholds the ban on plastic bags but allows stores to keep the money from single use bags to cover their costs.

The APBA or the American Progressive Bag Alliance is behind prop 65.  They want the 10 cents you pay for that bag at Trader Joe’s to go into an environmental fund instead of TJs profit margin.  This is a good idea.  What’s tricky about it, though, is that if 65 passes but 67 does not, then plastic bags would still be legal.  If they both pass, but 65 passes with a wider margin, then a statewide single-use bag ban would go into effect and the revenue for bags would go into an environmental fund.  HOWEVER, some analysts think that the passing of Prop 65 might prevent Prop 67 from taking effect depending how courts interpret both props.  If they both pass, but 67 passes by a wider margin, then a single use ban would go into effect and the revenue would go to stores.  If they’re both defeated, then no plastic bag ban would go into effect nor a requirement for how the revenue of single use bag sales would be distributed.

Confused? Me, too.  Here’s all you need to know though:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS REJECT 65 WHILE THE PLASTIC BAG LOBBY SUPPORTS IT.

65 is a scam. VOTE NO ON 65 and YES ON 67 if you want to ban plastic bags in CA.

If you don’t want to ban plastic bags, which estimates say cause 89% of litter in CA, then go stick your head in one and take a few deep breaths.

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