The California Liberal’s Ballot — Nov. 8th, 2016

Election day is right around the corner, and while our two favorite friends are sucking the air out of the room at the top of the ballot, state and local elections are chock full of choices that will determine the future of our country. The process of researching and understanding every propositions, initiatives and referenda is extremely confusing and time consuming (seriously, we have to make this easier, it’s a form of vote suppression)…But I care deeply and am a political junkie, so I’ve gone ahead and put together my ballot to share with you.

If you aren’t yetregistered to vote…that’s the first step. Register here.

The best resource for doing your own research is Ballotpedia. Bookmark it.

Disclaimer: I’m a liberal voter, but not a leftist by any means. There are some very clear cut votes for liberals, and some that I recommend you look into more deeply. Hope some folks find this helpful and that it sparks discussion of these important issues.

Prop. 51 (School bonds, funding for k-12 school and community college facilities) — No

Sounds great right! But in fact this prop is funded wholly by the construction industry (”funding for facilities” means “state payments to construction interests”) and does not force fund allocation to the facilities that most need improvement (poorer areas will continue to be neglected)

Prop. 52 (Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program) — Yes

52 is fairly confusing. The fee program is already in place, and a Yes vote here continues it. Basically this means that private hospitals pay a fee to fund Medi-Cal (public) benefits. The fees are then matched by the federal government (free $$). The issue is that the matching funds don’t have much oversight and those against this bill are concerned that the money is being wasted or spent improperly. I’m voting yes because even if some of the money is spent on lobbyists etc, the majority is still helping Californians who rely on Medi-Cal.

Prop. 53 (Revenue bonds should be subject to statewide voter approval) — No

For me, 53 is a clear No. The state gov (elected by the people) should not have to ask the people every time it wants to issue bonds to pay for statewide programs (bullet train is held up as a bogeyman by the Yes campaign), but the reality is that bonds are a normal way to pay for a range of important infrastructure projects.

Prop. 54 (Require all bill to be published to the internet for 72 hours before a legislative vote)- No

Another tricky choice. One one side, the public should clearly have the ability to review laws before they are passed by the state legislature. But on the other side, legislators often come to last-minute compromises, or vote on bills at the end of a session. The KEY POINT HERE is that this law would give special interests 3 full days to scuttle bills. The argument that the public should see all bills is tough for me to swallow, because how many people are really going to go online and read the text of a bill? Only lobbyists are doing that, and I’m against giving them more time to whisper in the ear of their puppet legislators (hyperbole, but actually…)

Prop. 55 (Tax extension to fund education and healthcare) — Yes

Clear yes. Extends (this is already in place) income tax increases on residents earning over $250k through 2030. Revenues generated have strict usage requirements (education, healthcare, state debt payment).

Prop. 56 (Cigarette Tax) — Yes

Clear yes. Raises taxes on tobacco products, with revenues directed to specific, public-health related uses.

Prop. 57 (Criminal sentencing reform) — Yes

Clear yes. Tl;dr — less kids serving long terms for minor infractions, more second chances for prisoners exhibiting good behavior. Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons (many serving extreme sentences for minor crimes due to prior minimum sentencing laws and “three strikes”) and allows judges, instead of prosecutors, to decide whether to try a juvenile as an adult.

Prop. 58 (Multilingual Education) — Yes

It annoys me that this is even on the ballot! A Yes vote here gives school districts more flexibility in how to teach English to kids. Right now, most schools try to force English down kids throats, instead of taking a smart, multi-lingual approach when English isn’t a child’s first language. It’s 2016, lots of people in CA speak Spanish at home, get over it.

Prop. 59 (Citizens United Stuff) — Yes

The strangest one…very vulnerable to ridicule from conservatives. Basically, a Yes vote asks the CA state gov to propose and ratify a Federal Constitutional Amendment (yes, a new amendment to the Constitution) overturning the Citizens United ruling that allows corporations and unions to function as “people” under political spending laws (VERY BAD for Democracy). There’s an argument that this is a waste of time, but if you want the reversal of Citizens United, vote Yes. We have to start somewhere, and I’m proud of the fact that CA is often a leader early in movements.

Prop. 60 (Condoms in Porns) — No

60 is a super weird prop…the spirit makes sense, but it’s written in a way that makes it totally ridiculous. One guy (Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation) has funded this Prop entirely and both the CA Republican and Democratic parties are against it. It’s clearly a self-aggrandizing play by this one guy, and not aimed at improving public health. Here are two No editorials from CA papers that say it better than I can:

“The measure also includes a provision unlike any other on a ballot measure that we can remember. If Proposition 60 passes, but the state refuses to defend its legality in a court challenge, Weinstein would automatically be hired and reimbursed by state taxpayers to provide such a defense” — San Diego Union Tribune

“Proposition 60 is one of those measures that might seem like a good idea until you actually read it. But this measure could undermine ongoing efforts by the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal-OSHA) to improve regulation of the industry. Opponents of the proposition also argue that it will drive the industry underground or out of the state. That, we’re not worried about. We won’t shed any tears if an industry that’s demeaning to women, addictive and emotionally damaging moves to another state. But crowning Weinstein king of porn with absolute power over all this? No way. Vote no on Proposition 60” — Mercury News

Prop. 61 (State prescription drug purchases and pricing standards) — Yes

FUNDED BY BIG PHARMA. 61 prohibits the state from buying prescription drugs at a price above the lowest price paid for the drug by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. There are a few exceptions for specific Medi-Cal programs. I’ll be voting against big pharma every time.

Prop. 62 (Abolish the death penalty) — Yes

Repealing the death penalty will save the state money, and leaves the door open for exonerating evidence to emerge. This one is pretty cut and dried: I don’t believe our society should be killing people for any reason.

Prop. 63 (“Sensible” gun control) — Yes

I’m a strong proponent of gun control, and this is a baby step. Most of the world stands confused as to why Americans care so much about guns…I feel the same way. There is simply no reason any citizen would need a military-grade weapon. They are built to kill other people in war. 63 requires a background check and DoJ authorization to buy ammo, and prohibits large-capacity magazines (used in most mass shootings).

Prop. 64 (Marijuana Legalization) — Yes

I’m mixed on 64. I generally feel like people should be able to consume whatever substances they want in their own lives. However, I do believe that weed makes people lazy, and worse drivers. We don’t need more lazy people around. Many weed smokers see it as totally normalized, but the vast majority of people in CA have never smoked or consumed weed in any capacity. At the end of the day, I’m voting Yes because legalization will reduce the incarceration rate. Our prisons are full of poor and minority youth who happened to have a joint on them when they were stopped by the cops (and we know that many of those stops are completely unwarranted and racially motivated)

Prop. 65 (the plastic bag ban FUNDED THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY) — No

A plastic bag ban funded by the plastics industry…hmmm. 65 is on the ballot as a sneaky ploy trying to derail the REAL plastic bag ban (67). Don’t let Big Plastic (aka the fossil fuel industry) win this one.

Prop. 66 (Keep the death penalty in place) — No

See Prop. 62 above. This one keeps the death penalty in place.

Prop. 67 (Ban on single use plastic bags)- Yes

WIN for the environment, LOSS for the fossil fuel industry that produces plastic bags. Let’s make CA a national leader on this issue. Stores would be prohibited from providing single-use plastic bags in CA, and would be required to charge for other bags (paper etc). Stores would keep the revenues from this charge.

Senate — Kamala Harris

President — Hillary Clinton