Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

California Ballot Measures '04

It's that time of year again. We gots a whole slew of laws and amendments to vote on in the People's Republic. Here's my take on them...

Yes Prop 59: Public records
We've had a couple of cases where government bodies took issues to closed session that had no business being there, and the courts interpreted existing law to block even the investigation of it. That's got to stop. The measure's opponent says it doesn't go far enough. He might be right, but I don't think that means I should vote No here. If he's right that we need to do more, then let's come back and do more the next time around.

No Prop 60: Election rights of political parties
Another scam by the two major parties. They want guarantees that they will always have a candidate in the general election, regardless of what happens in the primaries. The proponents wave the threat around of rich white candidates buying the election in the primaries, and the David Duke gubernatorial race in Louisiana. They say very little about what 60 will do, spending most of their space ripping on 62. Fuck that noise.

No Prop 60A: Surplus property revenue
This one forces revenues from the sale of surplus state property first to pay off the budget debt refinancing bonds approved in March, then into a rainy-day fund. The legislature's hands are tied enough about how to spend money, they need no more restrictions. If we don't like their actions, then we should vote for other people.

No Prop 61: Children's hospital bonds
$750 million in bond sales to fund physical plant expansion and renovation of children's hospitals around the state. Sorry. Good cause, bad funding method. Spend the money you already get more wisely.

Yes Prop 62: Blanket primaries
Prop 60 just dealt with general elections, this one deals with both. Except for the presidency, all primary races would be essentially nonpartisan, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general, regardless of party affiliation. The Republicans are backing it, the Democrats (with the notable exception of ex-Clinton CoS Leon Panetta) are opposing it. Fuck 'em both. I'm sure if this was Massachusetts, they'd hold the opposite positions. We don't vote for parties in this country, we vote for people. If your party can't find a candidate good enough to get a) enough of his own party to support him, and b) draw enough votes from opponents and independents to come in at least second, You Gots Problems. The Democratic Party in California has Issues, and needs to Get Its Shit Together. They take too mcuh for granted (So does the GOP, but for completely different reasons--namely, they're too noisy about how they love God and hate fags.)

No Prop 63: Mental health services
Puts a floor on mental health spending at current levels, and levies a 1% tax on personal incomes above $1 million to pay for expansion. There's some fucked-up people on the street who could get help if they a) weren't poor, or 2: their treatment could be paid for. Again, this isn't the way to do it. No, I don't think a person making $2 million a year will miss the $10K in additional taxes. But 1% here and 1% there add up to Real Money sooner or later, so the bar has to be pretty high to qualify, IMO. This doesn't make it. Again, the legislature needs to deal better with the budget. (Yes, I know their hands are largely tied there. That needs to change too.)

No Prop 64: Unfair business competition enforcement
Forbids private citizens from filing suits to enforce the law, limiting that right only to the state AG and local prosecutors, unless you can demonstrate you've suffered an injury or loss. Yes, I know shakedown lawyers are a bad thing, they squeeze settlements out of small businesses who lack the money to fight them in court. That needs to be dealt with. But this would also prevent suits aimed at stopping losses or injuries before they happen, such as privacy or pollution cases. The measure's backers include, surprise, large corporations (insurance companies, banks, and Microsoft,) not the small businesses the law claims to protect.

Yes Prop 66: Limits on "Three Strikes" law
Fixes CA's broken repeat-offender law, requiring qualifying crimes to be violent felonies and events charged separately (you can't rack up strikes 2 and 3 on the same round in court.) AND it allows re-sentancing of convicts whose strikes wouldn't qualify under this law. This is long overdue. There is no reason an ex-con who fucks up trying to get back on their feet and bounces a check needs to go back to prison for 25-to-life. (It also raises penalties for sex offenses against children under 14 by perps more than 10 years older. This is a side issue, but one I'm okay with.) The opponents all reek of the "criminals are subhuman monsters" attitude I despise. Sorry you twits, Kenneth Parnell is not getting released because of this.

No Prop 67: Telephone surcharge to fund EMS
Oh PLEASE. Yes, it sucks that poor people get treated in emergency rooms and don't pay for it. That needs to be fixed. This isn't the way to fix it. It's another case of looking for someplace with deep pockets and taking money from it to fund someone's pet project. The proponents say it'll only cost 90 cents on a $30/month cell phone bill. (There's a 50-cent cap on residential landlines only.) Fuck you, we're being nickel-and-dimed to death all over as it is. The proponents also say it will reduce health care costs--but there is no requirement in it to force providers to reduce charges or slow increases elsewhere. They can keep charging you $10 for two Tylenol and take this new state tax money.

No Prop 68: Indian casino tax
Proponents say this will make the Indians pay "their fair share"--25% of their sizeable gaming revenue. Fair share?! Being forced off their lands, at gunpoint, by people who rammed liquor and Christ down their throat was more than their fair share. But wait! There's more! If the tribes don't play along within 90 days, sixteen horse racetracks and card rooms get to install slot machines!

No Prop 69: DNA database
Requires DNA samples, ultimately, from anyone arrested for a felony offense. No, this goes too far. Proponents compare it to the fingerprint database. Except that fingerprints don't tell you medical facts about me. As time goes on, we will be able to determine more and more about a person from their DNA, and we'll be able to do it quicker and more cheaply. This is a police state tactic, and has no place in the United States. But wait, it gets better! If you get arrested, and they take a DNA sample under this law, and then you're released, either because the charges are dropped as unfounded, or you're acquitted, the DNA sample doesn't go away automatically! You have to petition the court for removal and destruction. The court can deny the request--which you're forbidden to appeal. And if the state fucks up and forgets (or "forgets") to delete and destroy your sample, after you've petitioned, after it's been approved, and after six months, they get away with it. There's no penalty, no "fruit of the poisoned tree" evidentiary rule.

No Prop 70: Indian gaming tax, Act 2
On the one hand, lets Indian casinos offer any games they like. (Roulette and craps are currently illegal. It's strictly cards and slot machines right now.) On the other hand, they have to pay the state at the prevailing corporate tax rate, and that money no longer has restrictions on it. (Current gaming compacts force payments, but those monies only go to non-gaming tribes or tribes with fewer than 350 slot machines.) And the tribes would now have to do environmental impact statements for casino expansion or construction plans.

No Prop 71: Stem cell research bonds
Good idea: forces the state to spend $3 billion on stem cell research. Bad idea: pays for it by issuing $3 billion in new bonds.

No Prop 72: Health care coverage
Good idea: Forces most employers to either provide health insurance, either directly or through a state program. Bad idea: No exemptions for employees to opt out, if they have/can afford better coverage privately; federal law forbids states from making requirements like this on employers, so they're looking at a court battle they'll likely lose, right out of the gate. Good idea, bad bill.

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