By Joe Tash
From legalizing marijuana to rolling back landmark environmental legislation to raising the sales tax in the city of San Diego, voters will face a wide array of ballot initiatives at the state and local level on Nov. 2. Following is a brief overview of the issues voters will decide at the polls:
- Prop. 19. Legalizes marijuana under state but not federal law. Supporters contend the measure will control and tax marijuana like alcohol, and make pot available only to adults. The measure would also strike a blow to drug cartels, contend supporters. Opponents include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, because it allows drivers to smoke marijuana until they climb behind the wheel. The measure is opposed by California sheriffs, police chiefs, firefighters and district attorneys.
- Prop. 20. Removes elected officials from the process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to a bipartisan 14-member redistricting commission. Supporters say it will prohibit politicians from drawing safe districts for themselves, while opponents contend the measure will be costly and provide less accountability to voters. Prop. 27 also concerns redistricting, and if both measures pass, the one with the most votes would take effect.
- Prop. 21. Establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund parks and wildlife programs. Supporters say the measure will keep parks open and well-maintained and boost tourism. Opponents says it’s merely an extension of the car tax and that if it passes, existing park funds would be diverted to other programs, resulting in no increase in funding for parks.
- Prop. 22. Constitutional amendment would prohibit the state from borrowing or taking transportation, redevelopment or local government funds. Supporters say the measure protects local services and projects, while opponents contend the measure would take money from schools and public safety and keep it in the hands of redevelopment agencies.
- Prop. 23. Suspends implementation of AB32, landmark anti-global warming legislation passed in 2006. Supporters say the measure will save more than one million jobs, prevent energy tax increases and help families. Opponents say the measure was designed and funded by Texas oil companies to kill clean energy and air pollution standards in California.
- Prop. 24. Repeals recent legislation that lowers the tax liability of businesses. Supporters say the measure stops $1.7 billion in new tax breaks for wealthy, multi-state corporations. Opponents say it will hurt small businesses, tax job creation and send jobs out of California.
- Prop. 25. Changes rules in state Legislature so that budgets can be passed by a simple majority, rather than the currently required two-thirds vote. Supporters say the measure ends budget gridlock but maintains the two-thirds threshold for tax increases. Opponents say the measure will make it easier for elected officials to raise taxes and spend money wastefully.
- Prop. 26. Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by two-thirds vote. Supporters say the measure stops state and local politicians from raising “hidden taxes” on goods like food and gas by disguising them as fees, and circumventing constitutional requirements for raising taxes. Opponents say big oil, tobacco and alcohol corporations want taxpayers to pay for damages the companies cause.
- Prop. 27. Eliminates state commission on redistricting and consolidates authority for redistricting with elected representatives. Supporters say the measure will save tax dollars by returning the responsibility to set boundaries of legislative and state Board of Equalization districts to the Legislature. Opponents say politicians want to abolish the Citizens Redistricting Commission so they can draw safe districts for themselves.
County of San Diego
- Prop. A. Amends the county charter to prohibit the county from requiring the use of project labor agreements on county construction projects unless required by state or federal law. Supporters say the change will allow all qualified workers to have an equal opportunity to work on public projects. Opponents say the measure would prohibit the county from requiring that workers on county projects reside locally, or are provided health insurance by the contractor.
City of San Diego
- Prop. D. Temporary half-cent sales tax increase for the city of San Diego. Supporters say revenue from Proposition D will help maintain and restore essential City services such as fire, paramedics, police, library hours and pothole repair, end fire station brownouts, and help improve 911 emergency response times. By law, funds from this temporary five-year measure can only be collected after the independent City Auditor verifies the city has initiated 10 financial and pension reforms that can produce hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. Opponents say Prop D gives city politicians a “blank check" tax increase with no guarantees on how the money will be spent, and fails to fix the city’s pension crisis. (See page 1 for a story on Prop C.)