Nov. 8 ballot measures: A roundup


Voters on Nov. 8 will face a crowded ballot, and it won’t be crowded just with people. There are also 17 ballot measures statewide, plus two in Los Angeles County.

Here are thumbnail looks at each:

Statewide propositions

Prop 51

Formally called the “California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative,’’ Prop 51, if passed, would allow the state to issue $9 billion in bonds to pay for new school construction, modernizing existing schools and increasing funds to build or modernize facilities at technical schools and community colleges.

The state estimates the new debt would cost $17.6 billion to repay.

Prop 52

Basically, this complicated measure concerns the state’s continued ability to collect federal money for Medi-Cal, the program that pays for health care for California’s low-income people.

Prop 52 would extend fees that private hospitals pay the state — fees that are used as matching dollars in order for the state to maximize federal Medi-Cal money. Ironically, the fees the hospitals pay out to the state enable them to get back federal money from Medi-Cal, lessening their costs for treating low-income patients.

The hospital fee program is scheduled to end in 2017 – but Prop 52 would make the fees permanent.

Prop 52 would also prevent the state from diverting hospital fees to the state’s general fund – as has happened in the past – unless the Legislature can generate a two-thirds vote.

Prop 53

This measure would require voter approval of any state revenue bonds above $2 billion. Supporters call it the “No Blank Checks Initiative,” saying it would keep debt down. Opponents worry that major infrastructure projects – or in-progress ones like water tunnels and high-speed rail, that might need more funding – would be imperiled if voters have to sign off each time.

Prop 54

Addressing accountability by the Legislature, Prop 54 would bar lawmakers from passing any bill until it has been in print and published on the internet at least 72 hours before the vote – halting the passage of bills nobody’s even read.

Prop 55

This bill, if passed, would extend tax increases on personal incomes over $250,000 – increases that passed as Prop 30 back in 2012 to help the state ride out the recession. Prop 30 also increased the sales tax by one-quarter percent until this year. Prop 55 would allow the sales-tax hike to expire but keep the higher income taxes (between 1 percent and 3 percent on incomes between $250,000 and $500,000) until 2030. Gov. Jerry Brown has said that, without extending the income taxes, the state could face a $4.3 billion deficit.

Prop 56

If voters pass Prop 56, they would be hiking the state tax on each pack of cigarettes by $2 (from its current $0.87 per pack), along with similar increases on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes. The new revenues would go to tobacco-prevention programs and an array of other health-related areas.

Prop 57

The “California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative’’ is another means the state would use to comply with a 2009 federal court order to reduce prison populations. It would increase parole and good-behavior opportunities for those convicted of non-violent crimes – making an estimated 7,000 prisoners immediately eligible for release. It would also enable judges, rather than prosecutors, to determine if young accused offenders would be tried as juveniles or adults.

Prop 58

This initiative would repeal most of 1998’s Prop 227, which removed most bilingual education in California schools and required English-only teaching unless parents requested otherwise. Prop 58 would widen the use of non-English languages to be used in public classrooms.

Prop 59

If voters pass Prop 59, they would be sending a message to the state’s elected officials that they should use “all of their constitutional authority” to repeal the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – a decision that allowed corporations to make unlimited political contributions as a matter of free speech. Prop 59 calls for action up to and including a constitutional amendment. It would not bind elected officials to pursue that goal.

Prop 60

The “Condoms in Pornographic Films Initiative” would require actors in adult films to use protection during filming, and force producers to pay for medical checkups.

Prop 61

A “yes” vote on Prop 61, variously called the “Drug Price Standards Initiative” and the “California Drug Price Relief Act,” would limit the amount that state agencies could pay drug manufacturers for prescription drugs.

It would mandate that the agencies pay the same amount for drugs as the Department of Veterans Affairs, and would halt the practice of agencies negotiating independently with drug manufactures over pricing – a practice that has led some agencies to pay more for the same drug than other agencies. (The VA typically pays the lowest drugs prices because of federally mandated discounts.)

The measure has produced one of the most expensive ballot-issue campaigns in state history, with pharmaceutical companies largely lining up against it.

Prop 62

Passage of Prop 62 would repeal the death penalty in California – making life without parole the maximum sentence for capital crimes. (See also Prop 66, below.)

Prop 63

Known as the “Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative,” Prop 63 would tighten gun and ammo restrictions in a variety of ways.

Among them: It would mandate that anyone purchasing ammunition would have to get a four-year permit from the State Department of Justice, and require sellers to check for those permits. It would also tighten limits on large-capacity magazines, make out-of-state ammo purchases go through California dealers first, and make stealing a gun a felony, even if the price of the stolen gun is under the $950 misdemeanor threshold.

Prop 64

The “California Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” also known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” would legalize recreational pot for those 21 and over, and only in private homes or businesses licensed to allow marijuana use.

It would also generate revenues by taxing the growers and the users. The tax revenue would be spent on, among other things, drug treatment and enforcement.

Prop 65

This measure would redirect money collected from the sale of disposable carry-out bags – the kind used at supermarkets, grocery stories, etc. – to a new fund managed by the state Wildlife Conservation Board. That fund would be used for grants to environmental conservation organizations.

Prop 66

If voters don’t end the death penalty (Prop 62), they can speed up the often decades-long appeal process by passing Prop 66, which proposes a wide array of changes regarding appeals.

Prop 67

In a push to reduce use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, this measure would ban grocery stores, supermarkets and other retailers from giving away single-use plastic or paper bags to customers, and allow the sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags, starting at a price of 10 cents per bag. A “no” vote would allow continued use of single-use plastic bags.

County propositions

Measure A

The “Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks & Beaches’’ proposal would generate some $94.5 million a year to fund new parks and maintain and upgrade existing ones. It would also guarantee a continuous revenue stream for parks by not “sunsetting,” or expiring. It would apply to both county and city parks in Santa Clarita.

Measure M

    This proposal would raise the county sales tax by a half-cent to fund a wide array of public-transportation projects, including new light rail and bus lines, plus road and street improvements. An existing half-cent tax – the previously passed Measure R – already addresses those issues, and this would add onto that measure. Significantly, an expiration date is not attached – it could only be rescinded by another vote. It would need to pass by a two-thirds majority.

Highlights for Santa Clarita would include funding for I-5 capacity improvements; $3 million a year to the city for local roads and $2.6 million a year for bus operations; and $1.2 billion made available over 40 years for Metrolink improvements.

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