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Voters to decide on 17 statewide ballot measures

LOS ANGELES — In addition to electing the next president and a new U.S. senator, California voters Nov. 8 will be voting on 17 different statewide ballot measures ranging from one that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana to one that would authorize $9 billion in bonds for school construction.

A brief synopsis of the 17 ballot measures follows.

• Proposition 51 would authorize $9 billion in bonds for construction and modernization of public, charter and vocational schools and community colleges. Paying off the bonds over 35 years would cost the state roughly $17.6 billion in principal and interest.

• Proposition 52 would extend hospital fees used to fund things such as Medi-Cal health services, uninsured patient care and children’s health services. The fee is set to end Jan. 1, 2018. Critics contend the measure offers no accountability for the more than $3 billion raised by the fee, while proponents say it provides funding for critical programs and prevents diversion of funds for other purposes without voter consent.

• Proposition 53 would require voter approval before the state can issue revenue bonds of more than $2 billion for major projects funded or managed by the state. Opponents contend it could force a statewide vote on some local infrastructure projects, while proponents insist there is no impact on local projects.
• Proposition 54 would prohibit lawmakers from passing any bill unless it is publicized online for at least 72 hours before the vote, and would require the Legislature to record its pubic meetings and make those videos available on the Internet. It would cost about $1 million annually to record meetings and make those recordings available online, according to the state.
• Proposition 55 would extend for another 12 years the temporary income tax increase enacted in 2012 for people making more than $250,000 a year. The law is set to expire after 2018, but Proposition 55 would extend it through 2030. Revenue would go to K-12 schools, community colleges and, in certain years, health care. Proponents say it would prevent $4 billion in cuts to public schools and increase children’s access to health care, while opponents say voters only supported the 2012 tax increase because the governor said it would be temporary.
• Proposition 56 would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes. Revenue would go primarily to health care for low-income residents. Proponents say the law would make smokers pay their fair share of tobacco-related health care costs, while opponents say too much of the money will go to insurance companies and special interests.
• Proposition 57 would allow earlier parole consideration for some nonviolent felons, authorize sentence credits for good behavior, rehab and education, and mandate that a juvenile court judge decide whether a juvenile will be tried as an adult. Proponents say it will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, while opponents say it will result in the release of dangerous criminals.
•Proposition 58 would require school districts to get input from parents in developing language programs and would authorize districts to establish dual-language immersion programs for native and non-native English speakers. Proponents say it would give school districts local control to choose the most effective instruction methods, while opponents say it would eliminate parental rights to an English-language education for their children.
• Proposition 59 would ask California’s elected officials to use their authority to seek a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, which held that certain laws limiting political spending by corporations and unions were unconstitutional.

• Proposition 60 would require adult film performers to use condoms during the filming of sex scenes and would require producers to pay for other health costs. Proponents say it would save taxpayers millions in health-care costs, while opponents say the law would allow any Californian to sue adult performers who run afoul of the law and violate the performers’ privacy.

• Proposition 61 would prohibit the state from paying more than the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for prescription drugs, with exemptions for MediCal. Proponents say it will save the state money, while opponents say it will increase prescription prices and reduce patient access to medication.

• Proposition 62 would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Proponents say it will guarantee that no innocent person is executed and save taxpayers up to $150 million annually, while opponents say it will allow murderers to live out the rest of their lives at taxpayers’ expense long after their victims are gone.

• Proposition 63 would require background checks and authorization by the U.S. Department of Justice to buy ammunition, and prohibit possession of large-capacity magazines. Proponents say it will keep guns and bullets out of the wrong hands, while opponents say it imposes costly burdens on law enforcement agencies and taxpayers. State analysts say it could cost up to tens of millions of dollars annually for a new court process for removing firearms from prohibited people.

• Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and establish standards for marijuana products. It could result in added tax revenue of up to $1 billion annually, according to the state. Proponents tout the extra tax revenue and reduced criminal justice costs, while opponents say it omits a DUI standard to keep stoned drivers off the roads and legalizes ads promoting marijuana that could be seen by children.

• Proposition 65 would require stores to direct money collected by sales of carry-out bags to specified environmental projects. Proponents say the bag fees paid by shoppers should go to the environment, not into grocers’ pockets, while opponents say Proposition 65 is sponsored by out-of-state plastic companies.

• Proposition 66 would change procedures for state court challenges to death sentences, designating Superior Court for initial petitions and limiting successive petitions. Proponents say it would speed up the appeal process and save millions of dollars, while opponents say it would increase the risk of executing an innocent person.

• Proposition 67 would prohibit stores from giving away single-use plastic or paper bags, but would permit the sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags at no less than 10 cents each, with the proceeds going to specified purposes. Proponents say it protects California’s efforts to phase out plastic bags, which are an environmental hazard, while opponents call it a hidden $300 million annual tax on consumers that will go toward grocer profits and not the environment.