Porter: Voting recommendations for November 8, second round (opinion)
Prop. 51 (School Bonds): Soft YES. This Proposition authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for K-12 schools. We need more bonds like we need another hole in the head, but it’s hard to say no to schools.
Prop. 53 (Anti Jerry Brown Proposition): NO. Prop. 53 is financed by a rich farmer who is opposed to Governor Jerry’s Delta project sending water to Southern California and his high speed rail linking Southern and Northern California. Vote NO, even if you are opposed to those two projects, which I believe I am.
Prop. 54 (Changes in the Legislature): YES. I’ve changed from a soft NO. This measure helps make business in the Legislature more transparent. Seems ripe for abuse during election years, but 54 is supported by all the “good government” groups.
Prop. 55 (Tax the Rich to Fund Education and Healthcare): YES. This tax-the-rich measure was passed four years ago as a temporary tax increase to restore funding for schools; temporary is now about to become permanent with 55. Sets a bad precedent, however.
Prop. 56 ($2 Per Pack Tax on Cigarettes): YES. This is a definite YES. Don’t be misled by the millions of dollars spent by the tobacco industry misleadingly suggesting a NO vote. Less smokers is healthy for all of us.
Prop. 57 (More Flexibility on Criminal Sentencing): YES. During the “tough on crime” movement 40 years ago, prison terms for certain crimes were determined automatically rather than allowing judges to have discretion. At that time California had 11 prisons, now it has 33; I say YES.
Prop. 58 (English Proficiency/Multi-lingual Education): YES. Prop. 58 gives school districts more flexibility in developing effective multi-lingual education, classes and programs, less rigid than the existing law. Prop. 58 is widely supported by the education establishment.
Prop. 59 (Political Spending): NO, but I could easily flip to YES. This is an advisory to elected officials to use their powers to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which ruled that laws placing limits on political spending by corporations and unions are unconstitutional. I don’t like the ruling in Citizens United, but Prop. 59 is advisory only and will not cause the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its ruling.
Prop. 61 (State Drug Purchases): Soft NO, maybe YES. This is an effort to control skyrocketing prescription drug costs which prohibits California from buying prescription drugs at a price over the lowest price paid for the drug by the VA. It’s complex and many say will end up in the courts and have unintended consequences. The fact that Big Pharma is spending millions to oppose Prop. 61 makes me want to vote YES.
Prop. 62 (Repeals Death Penalty): YES. Similar propositions have failed before, but I support Prop. 62 which abolishes the death penalty in California and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. I’m not soft on crime, but the death penalty system is broken. It takes 20 years to get to an execution at a cost of around $200 million per death penalty prisoner.
Prop. 63 (Firearms/Ammunition Restrictions): Probably YES. I’m mixed on Prop. 63, even though I support gun laws, but California has the most stringent gun laws in the Country (six new laws this year). This Proposition seems to go overboard requiring, for example, a permit to buy ammunition which will impact tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens with very little benefit.
Prop. 64 (Legalizing Recreational Marijuana): YES, I suppose. Not sure why we want to legalize marijuana, but it will raise substantial taxes, regulate the industry and establish standards for marijuana products and supposedly reduces criminal justice costs by tens of millions of dollars annually. You decide. Per the Legislative Analyst: “Cities and Counties could regulate or completely bar marijuana–related businesses.”
Prop. 65 (Carryout Bag Charges): NO. This Proposition looks good on its face — redirecting money paid to grocers for carry-out bags into a new environmental fund — but it is supported by the plastic and paper bag industry, and I doubt the industry has our interests at heart.
Prop 66 (Procedures to Fix the Death Penalty): NO. Prop. 66 is well intended as it proposes measures to make the death penalty process more efficient, but as an attorney it looks unduly burdensome and unrealistic, so I’m leaning NO.
Prop. 67 (Ban on Plastic Bags): YES. California already passed a law prohibiting single use plastic or paper carryout bags, but the plastic and paper bag industry is trying for a second bite at that apple, spending millions to confuse us. Banning plastic bags has been hugely successful. Strong YES on 67.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.