Details re November 2016 State Propositions

My recommendations for support or opposition are viewed from the perspective of how the propositions affect local government and Napa County residents.

References below:

“BOS” = Napa County Board of Supervisors unanimous position.

“RCRC” = Rural County Representatives of California (35 rural counties, including Napa)

“CSAC” = California State Association of Counties (all 58 counties).

SUPPORT

Proposition 51 —Bond Funding for K-12 Schools and Community College Facilities

Support: RCRC; this is especially important for small population counties like ours.  As stated by the California Chamber of Commerce, which also supports Prop 51, “The state should continue the School Facility Program and its use of general obligation bonds to support school facilities because the alternative – forcing local governments to raise property tax rates significantly and levy much higher developer fees – will limit the development of new affordable housing.”  In addition, St. Helena Unified School District has qualified and is waiting for funding from this source.

Proposition 52 — State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds

Support:  BOS; CSAC.  Prop 52 extends the current fee program, providing certainty that federal matching funds ($3 billion+ annually) will continue to flow to our local hospitals and health care services for children, seniors, and low-income families.  This proposition prohibits the Legislature from diverting the money without voter approval.

Proposition 54 — Legislative Transparency

Support:  BOS; RCRC; CSAC.  Local government (counties and cities) is required to post and provide documents 72 hours before we meet to discuss same.  No such rule applies to the Legislature with regard to the bills they pass.  Prop 54 will require the Legislature to post each bill online in final form at least 72 hours before voting, and also post a complete video record of every meeting that is open to the public.

Proposition 55 — Tax Extension on High Wealth Individuals

Support:  BOS; CSAC.  State voters passed Prop 30 in 2012 to generate much-needed revenue.  It had two parts: ¼ cent sales tax and tax increase on earnings over $250,000.  The first part is expiring this year.  Prop 55 will extend the second part – the extra tax paid by high wealth individuals – until 2030.  The monies go to K-12 schools, community colleges, and in certain years to health care.

Proposition 56 — Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement

Support:  BOS; CSAC.  Increases cigarette tax by $2/pack, and also increases tax on other tobacco products and e-cigs containing nicotine.  Sponsored by American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Proposition 57 — Criminal Sentences. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing

Support:  Napa County has a adopted a progressive recidivism-reducing evidenced-based criminal justice system model.  Juvenile and adult inmates that go through the rehabilitation program have a dramatically lower recidivism rate compared to those that do not.  It is one way that we have saved taxpayers $ in terms of the costs of local incarcerations in our jail.  Prop 57 allows parole consideration for nonviolent fellow and authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education.  Juvenile court judges will decide whether juveniles will be prosecuted as adults.  Prop 57 is supported by the California Probation Officers of California and the League of Women Voters.

Proposition 59 — Campaign Finance. Voter Instruction

Support:  BOS.  The only effect of Prop 59 is to inform Congress that we (the voters) want to get big money out of politics and overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.  The amount and sources of unfettered political campaign funding in our country are wasteful and misleading, respectively.

Proposition 67 — Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags

Support:  BOS; CSAC.  Plastic bags are a disproportionate part of our statewide litter problem.  Until 2014, the state had not taken a position on local plastic bag use, so many counties and cities acted on their own.  After the state legislature finally passed a plastic bag phase-out bill, the plastic bag industry filed its referendum, which put the legislation on hold until it could come before the voters in the form of Prop 67.  A Yes vote means that you want the state legislation to be upheld and a statewide plastic bag ban to be in place.  A No vote rejects the state legislation.

OPPOSE

Proposition 53 — Revenue Bonds

Oppose:  BOS; RCRC; CSAC.  Poorly written in that it could stop or delay vital public works construction projects by requiring that some local bond-funded public projects be put to a statewide vote.  Its intent was to force a statewide vote on the funding for the high speed rail project, but it could include other projects unnecessarily (and probably unintentionally).

Proposition 65 — Carry-Out Bags. Charges

Oppose:  BOS; CSAC.  Prop 65 looks good on its face but beware: it’s the plastic bag makers that put it on the ballot to confuse you.  If Prop 65 gets more yes votes than Prop 67 (see above), it could have the effect of negating Prop 67.  And we’d be left with no statewide plastic bag ban.

OTHER PROPOSITIONS

Proposition 58 — English Proficiency.  Multilingual Education

NOTE: California Chamber of Commerce supports this because we need a workforce educated to compete in a global economy.  “Top education systems in the world all require students to learn multiple languages.”

Proposition 60 — Adult Films.

NOTE: this is the only initiative opposed by both the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party, presumably because it is so poorly written.

Proposition 61 — Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards

Proposition 62 — Death Penalty

Proposition 63 — Firearms. Ammunition Sales

Proposition 64 — Marijuana Legalization for adults 21 and older; state taxes on sales and cultivation; establishes licensing and standards for products.

NOTE: no matter how you feel about legalization of marijuana, please be aware that this legislation is probably ‘as good as it gets’ in terms of local control.  The drafters met repeatedly with county representatives from throughout the state over the last couple of years, taking note of what has worked in other states.  Prop 64 adheres closely to California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy (which included law enforcement and public health experts).  Estimated tax revenue is $1 billion.

If Prop 64 passes, we (county and cities) still have local control and can impose local taxation.  Employers can require drug-free workplaces.

If Prop 64 fails, there will be another measure on the 2018 ballot, and all indicators are that it will be “simpler” and thus less restrictive.  That’s not good from a local control perspective, and it is why RCRC and CSAC declined to oppose Prop 64.  We want to have a seat at the table in crafting Prop 64’s successor.

Proposition 66 — Death Penalty. Procedures

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