|By Al Ortiz|
Both measures found their way to the ballot via the citizen initiative process, where California residents circulate petitions for proposed ballot propositions, and collect the required amount of signatures from registered voters in the state in order for their proposal to obtain ballot access.
Below is a review of both measures, who their supporters and opponents are, and what would happen if the propositions are enacted. Also below is a rundown of the local ballot measure elections occurring in California on Tuesday night.
Starting with Proposition 28, if enacted by voters, the measure would reduce the total number of years a politician can serve in the California State Legislature from 14 years to 12 years and permit a legislator to serve these 12 years in either the California State Senate or the California State Assembly. This change would increase the number of years that a legislator could serve in either of those chambers. Proposition 28 would increase the number of years a legislator could remain in the California State Assembly from 6 years to 12 years and increase the number of years a legislator could remain in the California State Senate from, again, 8 years to 12 years.
However, there is a caveat to current state legislators: The changes would not apply to any legislator who is already in office at the time that the initiative goes into effect. The rules governing the terms of those who are in the California State Legislature as of June 5, 2012 would be calculated under the previous rules.
Supporters of the initiative, who are also sponsoring groups, include The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Together, those organizations formed a larger group called “Californians for a Fresh Start”, who turned in more than 1 million signatures to county election officials by their April 22 deadline.
Arguments in favor of the measure from supporters include that the state term limits law needs fixing, that the law is two decades old.Also, that the Legislature is still filled with career politicians more focused on campaigning for their next office than doing their job. According to supporters, Proposition 28 is a simple reform that will help make the state Legislature more accountable.
On the other hand, opponents include The California Republican Party, and it’s chairman Jon Fleischman. Fleischman stated that Proposition 28 will lead to a situation where most California state legislators will serve more years in office. He also argues that the official ballot language was written so as to be deliberately misleading.
Turning to the next statewide measure on the ballot, Proposition 29, if it is approved by California’s voters, the tax on cigarettes in the state will increase by $1.00 per pack. California’s current cigarette tax is 87 cents per pack. The total tax per pack of cigarettes, if Proposition 29 passes, will be $1.87/pack. The additional tax revenue will be used to fund cancer research, smoking reduction programs, and tobacco law enforcement.
The last time a cigarette tax was on the California ballot was in 2006, when Proposition 86 was narrowly defeated. Proposition 86 would have imposed an additional tax of $2.60 per pack of cigarettes.
A coalition, “Californians for a Cure”, was formed to campaign in support of the measure. This campaign is co-chaired by two cancer survivors: the 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and retired President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, Don Perata.
According to supporters, voting yes on the measure would be a vote for better health and life saving research. Supporters also say, a yes vote is a vote to reject tobacco companies’ and their strategies.
Opponents of the measure include the coalition Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes & Spending. Opponents counter supporters’ arguments by stating that the measure is an example of “ballot box budgeting in which revenues are limited for specific purposes with little oversight from outside agencies.” Other arguments include that the measure is a “poorly written, fundamentally flawed special-interest tax measure”.
Local measure elections
On June 5, 27 of California’s counties will have 113 local issues to decide on, in addition to the two statewide questions. Of those measures, 40 will address school parcel taxes or bond questions. Keep an eye out for those questions if you live in one of those 27 counties.