California Propositions, 2010 November

by Tony Medley

Proposition 19: Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Initiative Statute.

Discussion: While this does nothing to affect federal law, which prohibits the use of marijuana for any reason, even medical, the Obama Administration announced in March 2009 that the current administration would not prosecute marijuana patients and providers whose actions are consistent with state medical marijuana laws. This measure, however, legalizes personal use of marijuana in California.

I agree with the late economist Milton Friedman that drugs should not be criminalized. Criminalization is just more government interference with private action. Criminalization was a 20th-Century idea. All drugs were legal before then. Coca-Cola originally contained cocaine. Criminalization didnít work with alcohol in the 1920s. Without the Volstead Act (which was passed over President Wilson's veto) would the world have ever seen Al Capone or Lucky Luciano or Vito Genovese (or Joe, Jack, Robert, and Teddy Kennedy)? The 20s didn't reduce the incidence of drinking to any great extent,  and it made criminals of everyone who had a drink, thereby reducing respect for the law. Today criminalization of drugs has resulted in an unprecedented crime wave of brutal violence. It doesnít work.

Recommendation: Yes.

Proposition 20: Removes elected representatives from process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party. Constitutional Amendment.

Discussion: This wonít work much better than whatís happened now. Why? Because districts will still be chosen by politicians. The members of the commission will be chosen by the State Auditor, after submitting names to the legislature which has the right to strike a certain number of names without reason. Those remaining will be chosen by drawing. Whatever the method used to choose the members, it is still ultimately chosen by politicians. My impression is this is a lot of sound and fury, signifying little. But anything that gets it further away from the legislature is a plus.

Recommendation: Yes, but Iím holding my nose.

Proposition 21:  Establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs. Grants surcharged vehicles free admission to all state parks. Initiative statute.

Discussion: Adding a tax to your license fee to fund state parks is just another political ploy to get people to pay money for something they apparently donít want. I love the state parks, but thereís too much wasteful spending in government. If the government wants to preserve the parks, then it should reign in its spending and get the funds from existing revenues. No new taxes.

Recommendation: No.

Proposition 22: Prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services. Constitutional Amendment.

Discussion: Put simply, this prohibits the state from raiding the coffers of local governments to use money designated for local purposes for state purposes. This keeps the state from grabbing money to which it is not entitled. Better to make the state cut spending and use its money wisely.

Recommendation: Yes.

Proposition 23: Suspends implementation of ďglobal warmingĒ law (ab 32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for full year. Initiative Statute.

Discussion: There are two issues about global warming. The first is, is it occurring? The second is, if it is occurring, is it caused by man? AB 32 is one of those laws that think that the answer to both those questions is yes. As for me, I donít know if it is occurring. But if it is occurring the only activity by man that could be contributing to it is the burning of the rainforest, something ignored by just about everyone but me. The rainforest has encircled the globe for 60 million years and is probably the reason human beings developed. Now itís being destroyed. I wrote a detailed article on the rainforest almost 15 years ago, which is still valid and which you can read by clicking here. The argument that laws limiting manís activities can stop whatever global warming is occurring without dealing with the destruction of the rainforest is absurd.

Recommendation: Yes.

Proposition 24: Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to lower their tax liability. Initiative statute.

Discussion: This will repeal a law that allows businesses to make more money and create more jobs. It tightens rules on deductions and the like. The argument is that itís better for the state to have the money to use it as largesse for people who donít contribute than for businesses to have the money to create jobs and stimulate the economy. So itís pretty simple. If you want businesses to make enough money to hire more people, you are against this measure that will repeal a pro economic growth law. If you want businesses to make less money so they can hire less people, or be forced to lay people off, you are for this.

Recommendation: No.

Proposition 25: Changes legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation from two-thirds to a simple majority. retains two-thirds vote requirement for taxes. Constitutional amendment.

Discussion: This is a ploy by the leftwing Democrats who control the state legislature to force a tax and spend budget on the Governor. As it is now, with the 2/3 requirement, fiscally reasonable Republicans can block more bloated budgets that have thrown California into a fiscal mess. What we need is a Constitutional Amendment that throws the entire state legislature in jail if it doesnít meet its Constitutional requirement to pass a balanced budget on time, stop their pay, and stop paying all their expenses, requiring them to pay all their expenses including their staffs, out of their own pockets with no reimbursement in the future even when a balanced budget is finally passed. That, I would vote for.

Recommendation: No

Proposition 26: Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by two-thirds vote. Fees include those that address adverse impacts on society or the environment caused by the fee-payer's business. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Discussion: Most tax increases require a 2/3 vote of local voters, whether state or local. But if the charge is designated to be a ďfee,Ē it only requires a majority vote, making it pretty easy for local governments to designate some money-grabbing idea as a ďfeeĒ and get it approved. This would expand the definition of a tax and a tax increase so that more proposals would require approval by 2/3 of the legislature or local voters.

Recommendation: Yes; this is a no-brainer.

Proposition 27: Eliminates state commission on redistricting. Consolidates authority for redistricting with elected representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Discussion: Returns redistricting to the state legislature, where it was before 2008 when Proposition 11 established the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Although I think that the Citizens Redistricting Commission is just as feckless and political as the state legislature, Iím for anything that takes power away from the legislature. Since this would return power to the legislature, Iím against it, even if it does put me in the same bed with the League of Women Voters and AARP. However, the fact that they are against it speaks volumes about how ineffective 2008ís Proposition 11 and Proposition 20 this year will be to return democracy to the people.

Recommendation: No.