Californians go to the polls Tuesday, June 8th for a primary election and to decide the fate of five new propositions and several minor offices. Click here to see the CA Secretary of State's Voter Information Guide.
I'm telling you my opinions on the propositions not as a substitute for your own obligation to think about this and decide for yourself, but instead as a way to raise awareness that there is an election and to hopefully start a discussion. If you're not registered to vote already, it's too late for this election, but you can and should register now for the next one.
How I plan to vote:
13 - YES
14 - NO
15 - YES
16 - NO
17 - NO
Proposition 13 - I'm voting YES
"A YES vote on this measure means: Earthquake safety improvements made to unreinforced masonry (such as brick) buildings would not result in higher property taxes until the building is sold."
"A NO vote on this measure means: Earthquake safety improvements made to unreinforced masonry buildings would continue to be excluded from property taxes but for only up to 15 years."
This passed unanimously out of the State Legislature and appears to have no organized opposition. It seems to make the law more consistent and remove a disincentive to make old brick buildings safer with only a minor loss in tax revenue. If this were the Prop 13 from 1978 which I always talk about, I'd definitely be voting NO :)
Proposition 14 - I'm voting NO
"A YES vote on this measure means: All voters would receive the same primary election ballot for most state and federal offices. Only the two candidates with the most votes—regardless of political party identification—would advance to the general election ballot."
"A NO vote on this measure means: Voters would continue to receive primary election ballots based on their political party. The candidate with the most votes from each political party would continue to advance to the general election ballot."
As a member of the Green Party, which opposes this measure, I've decided I don't like it. The predictable result would be to exclude all non-Democrats/Republicans from the general election ballot, and that doesn't sit well with me, since I figure California needs more out of the box thinking, not less.
Proposition 15 - I'm voting YES
"A YES vote on this measure means: The state ban on public funding for political campaigns for elected offices would be lifted. For the 2014 and 2018 elections, candidates for the office of Secretary of State could choose to receive public funds to pay for the costs of campaigns if they met certain requirements. Charges related to lobbyists would be increased to pay for these costs."
"A NO vote on this measure means: The state ban on public funding for political campaigns for elected offices would continue. Candidates for the office of Secretary of State would continue to pay for their campaigns with private funds subject to current rules. Existing charges related to lobbyists would not change."
I like that this removes a ban on publicly funding campaigns and creates a pilot program that's financed by taxes on lobbyists. Sounds like it'll make government cleaner.
Proposition 16 - I'm voting NO
"A YES vote on this measure means: Local governments would generally be required to receive two-thirds voter approval before they could start up electricity services or expand electricity service into a new territory."
"A NO vote on this measure means: Local governments generally could continue to implement proposals involving the start-up or expansion of electricity service either through approval by a majority of voters or actions by governing boards."
This one stinks. First of all, I'm VERY skeptical of anything that sets up the requirement for a 2/3 vote. Second, this is obviously sponsored by a private utility company (PG&E) in order to make it harder for publicly owned utilities to operate. This is a definite NO for me, and a prime example of the garbage that can come out of California's initiative process.
Proposition 17 - I'm voting NO
"A YES vote on this measure means: Insurance companies could offer new customers a discount on their automobile insurance premiums based on the length of time the customer had maintained bodily injury liability coverage with another insurer."
"A NO vote on this measure means: Insurers could provide discounts to their long-term automobile insurance customers, but would continue to be prohibited from providing such discounts to new customers switching from other insurers."
This is another industry-funded one. This time, by Mercury Insurance. It would basically mean you would have to maintain continuous car insurance coverage or else probably be charged extra if you try to start up again after a gap in coverage. On the other hand you might get a discount for continuous coverage. I don't think people should feel obligated to maintain car-related insurance if they aren't driving, so I'll be voting NO.