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Each election I research and analyze the propositions on the California ballot to create this voting guide, and they represent nothing other than my own personal view of these measures. I do this analysis on a non-partisan basis, but that doesn't mean I have no opinion. I do, but I believe it's transparent (note that "transparency" means only that I claim no hidden agenda, not that I'm trying to be unbiased).
I generally have no connection with any group supporting or opposing any of these propositions.
My main intent is to get to the bottom of these issues, knowing that the "real" purpose is not always evident. Once uncovered, I apply a mainly libertarian eye to them.
I'm more interested in examining the issues thoughtfully than I am in getting you to vote the way I do, so I hope these pages help you understand the issues in front of us.
I hope my thoughts are helpful.
Click each link for the rationale for each position.
|Proposition||Result||My Position||Description / Title|
|Prop 28||Pass||61.4%||No||Term limits (again)|
|Prop 29||Fail||49.2%||Yes||Cigarette taxes for cancer research|
This measure would yet again shuffle around term limits for California legislators by changing the current two-part limits (6 years in the assembly and 8 years in the senate) to a single unified limit of 12 years.
In addition to reducing the overall limit of 14 years to 12 years, it mainly allows the legislator to spend all their time in one house before terming out. Currently it's quite common for somebody to term out in one body before running for office in the other.
This chamber-jumping is a surprise to many, though not to those familiar with the nature of professional politicians: they can't hold down a real job, so they work for the government. It's surprising how many have termed out of the assembly and the senate but still run for things like the Insurance Commissioner or the Board of Equalization (or for Federal office). It's like musical chairs up in Sacramento.
My first reaction to any term-limit measure is to look for shenanigans, that it will be used by legislators to prolong their time in office. Here, this really does appear to be a hard 12-year limit, and the ballot language is so short that it's hard to hide shenanigans. It looks like it does exactly what it says it will do.
An argument for maintaining the current rules is that it limits entrenchment of power in any one chamber, so somebody only barely gets any experience in one body before having to jump to the other. They claim that this makes the officeholders perpetual newbies, susceptible to the effects of lobbyists to the detriment of the people.
This rings to me as poor reasoning for two reasons.
Originally I was for this measure, because the simplicity appealed to me, and I underestimated the effects of seniority on power, but now I feel that having people move on before they get too powerful is a net asset.
To be fair, I wanted to touch on one argument against this measure that I don't care for: it's the exemption for current officeholders. Those that support this measure may well believe that a hard 12-year limit ought to take effect immediately, but in practice this would probably be bad:
Scenario: George Q. Politician has 2 terms in the Senate (8 years) and 2 terms in the Assembly (4 years), which is a total of 12 years. Under the current rules, he still has one more Assembly term to go, and he is running for his third Assembly term this year, on this very same ballot, in this very primary.
Presumably he's been running in his primary election for the last coupla months, and assuming he wins and Prop 28 passes, it would effectively say "Nice that you won, but you can't serve", giving a default victory to the other party in the fall.
I think most of us would find that this boundary condition would be worse than a hard 12-year limit, and I don't believe that this measure allows anybody to serve more than the current rules do. So this may look like a little glitch, but it's of no consequence.
In any case, I finally came the the conclusion that a hard year limit was less important than limiting power in one chamber, and that organized labor supports this measure was enough to tip me against it. I'm not totally happy voting no, but I will be.
My vote: No
This measure would enact a new $1/pack tax on cigarettes, plus equivalent taxes on other forms of tobacco (cigars, chew, etc.) with the explicit purpose of funding cancer research. It contains measures to prevent the legislature from making any changes in the law for 15 years, presumably to protect it from the tobacco industry.
The commission that decides where the money goes would be made up of the heavy hitters in cancer research in California, largely from the university research community, and they'd get to play with ~$800M a year.
Not surprisingly, the tobacco companies are going all out to defeat this measure, starting early and saturating the airwaves (and the internet) with ads against it. Other groups against it are retailers who don't want reduced tobacco sales.
Both of those are understandable objections, but I disregard them out of hand. Duh.
I've seen a number of objections to this measure raised by the opponents, some of which I really don't care for:
I went back and forth on this a few times, and ultimately became reluctantly comfortable enough with this to support it, and the fact that the tobacco companies are so up in arms against it just seals the deal for me.
My vote: Yes
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Last updated: Mon Jun 4 23:51:43 PDT 2012