Tis the season for ballot measures


A sample ballot registered voters should have received in the mail (Stephen Benoit)

It’s the election season yet again, and while the gubernatorial and Senate races are extremely important, they’re not the only important thing you need to educate yourself about, as plenty of ballot measures are on the table that you should know about.

The first proposition is Proposition 19, which deals with the legalization of marijuana. There are lots of good arguments for and against the proposition, but there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: a state law cannot overturn federal law, and under federal drug laws marijuana is still illegal. Mind you the federal government may not be able to force state police to prosecute you, but the key word there is force. If the police officer has something against you or feels you slighted him, he may have you run in under federal law.

However, Proposition 19 would create lots of jobs and bring in lots of tax money. Lots of prisoners are in prison for marijuana-related crimes, and this would help bring down our overwhelming prison population. This would also drastically hurt drug cartels from Mexico, as the majority of their income is from marijuana, with cartels crippled violence in California and Mexico would be sure to plummet.

Proposition 20 and 27 are directly competing against each other, trying to reform our redistricting system so if both pass, then the proposition with the highest majority becomes the law. Both of these propositions are incredibly confusing, and most people don’t understand the process of redistricting. When a state is redistricted if the redistricting is done by the party in power, they tend to do something known as “gerrymandering,” where they redraw districts in ways that benefit their party.

20 is the right choice to me, as 20 gives redistricting responsibilities to a committee as opposed to the state legislature. Letting the state legislature draw the district lines once again would just bring us back to old problems. Having an independent committee responsible should be good for the state.

Proposition 21 is a tricky proposition, as it proposes an $18 increase to driver’s license fees to pay for state parks. There are really good arguments for and against this proposition. Main arguments for the bill are obvious-it raises a lot of money for state parks. Arguments against the bill, however, are mostly that the money could be used for much better things, and this is another case of the voters trying to legislate.

I support 21, and while it’s true the money could be used for better things, only 85% of the money raised by this fee increase needs to be used for parks, and California’s natural beauty is something I’d like to preserve for generations to come. The other 15% could be used for the more “important” things, or more taxes could be invented because we can’t expect to have everything handed to us for free.

Proposition 22 bans the state government from borrowing from local governments. While this sounds nice, it’s another case of the voters trying to legislate and in cases of extreme emergencies, we would potentially cripple the state. Teacher’s unions make a very persuasive argument, for if this happens, budget cuts for public schools could deepen even more than they have been, and this includes Skyline.

Proposition 23 puts AB 32 (a powerful environmental protection law) on hold until unemployment falls under 5.5% for over a year. This is a thinly veiled attempt to shut down AB 32 by oil companies. The two biggest donors of this bill are Valero and Tesoro, which should be blatantly obvious after seeing that unemployment has to fall below 5.5% for over a year. Getting unemployment that low for that period of time even when a recession isn’t in progress is very rare. I am vehemently opposed to 23.

Proposition 24 removes some tax breaks for large companies in California, and while this is something I would normally get behind, it’s not something I can support. California has made promises to a lot of companies because of the recession, and this proposition would make our promises worthless. It would damage the state’s bargaining power because it would be unable to keep its word due to voters stopping deals. I can foresee job loss, and companies just up and leaving the state.

Proposition 25 is one of the most important propositions that needs to pass in my eyes. You’ve probably heard time and time again about how the state can’t pass a budget, as this is because you need a two thirds majority to pass a budget and a minority can hold the majority hostage. 25 changes the budget to a simple majority vote, this means that a budget will be passed in a much timelier manner with less compromise with a potentially extreme minority.

Proposition 26 will cripple our state. It sounds great on paper to have the voters approve every tax, but the last time this happened, we ended up with the problem with our state budget. This requires the state legislature to pass a 2/3rds supermajority vote to raise or create any fees, which sounds fine, but we can’t expect to get services for nothing. The state needs taxes and fees to function and without them we’d practically be a welfare state, expecting something for nothing.

The most well-known proposition that did something like this was Proposition 13, which made the state require a two thirds majority to create or raise taxes. This has done immense damage to the state, as a minority can prevent the state from raising taxes it needs in times of crisis. As a result, the state is getting a trickle of what it should be, mostly from huge corporations and not the average voter.

Overall, it’s incredibly important to not just vote for the seats of politicians this election season, but all the propositions. I can only hope that this article will help you to look up these propositions and make informed decisions for yourself.