Proposition Exposition: Prop 19 & California’s Possible Laws

I have a proposition for you. Well, let me clarify: when I say “I” I mean “the state of California”; and when I say “a proposition” I mean “nine propositions.”

That’s right, folks, it’s votin’ time. In just under six weeks, on Nov. 2, nine road-tested propositions will be placed before you in the hopes of becoming California state law. In essence, the ballot is nothing more than a smorgasbord of enticing dishes, and you have the option of devouring those you love while sweeping the less appealing ones under the table. This week, I’ll be giving you a free sample of each. Now, let’s check out what’s on the menu.

First up: the infamous Prop. 19. If you’re in California and still don’t know about this one, you must be trapped under an iron deposit—even people living under rocks are familiar with it. Prop. 19 is known formally as the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, but most college students refer to it simply as “a godsend.” Basically, this proposition would legalize the personal growth and use of small portions of marijuana for those 21 and older. But don’t fear, this isn’t just the work of Hippies Evaluating Regulatory Bylaw (HERB); Proposition 19 was developed in response to failing prohibitory measures as well as an ailing California state budget. Prop. 19 aims to weaken organized crime, add to the state’s revenue and, yes, extend to those of appropriate age the option of recreational marijuana use.

Next on the table: Prop. 20. Certainly less controversial than Prop. 19, Prop. 20 deals with the redrawing of congressional district boundaries. Under California’s current system, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC)—a private group of fourteen active voters selected through a randomized process—is in charge of redrawing state legislature district boundaries. Congressional district boundaries, though, are determined by elected representatives. Prop. 20 would give the CCRC the power to redraw congressional district boundaries, in addition to its current responsibilities. The goal of this measure is to eliminate the conflict of interest inherent in the current system, in which representatives draw their own district lines.

Logically following Prop. 20 is of course Prop. 27, seeing as their sum is 47. Prop. 27 is essentially the antithesis of Prop. 20. In your smorgasbord, you can think of them as baked beans and ice cream—the two just don’t go together. If passed, Prop. 27 would effectively dismantle the CCRC by repealing Prop. 11, which established the CCRC in the first place. Please, if you do anything on Nov. 2, don’t vote “yes” on both Propositions 20 and 27—that would just be embarrassing.

Prop. 21 would impose an additional $18 tax for vehicle registration in California, designating the additional revenue to state park funding. This would provide an estimated $500 million for state parks, give most California vehicles free access to and parking in the parks, and return the current $130 million state park budget to California’s general funds.

Prop. 22, one step in addressing the myriad issues with the California state budget, would provide assurance that certain funds could not be compromised in efforts to restructure the budget. Specifically, Prop. 22 would protect funds dedicated to “local government services, community redevelopment projects, or transportation projects and services.” The plan here is that any time the state attempted to take money from the aforementioned areas, MC Hammer would pop up and shout, “Can’t touch this!” Okay, that’s not actually included in the proposition. But a little MC Hammer could go a long way.

Prop. 23, the Robin to Prop. 19’s Batman, is another attention-getter. Prop. 23 would suspend the implementation of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006—an act committing California to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2010—until California can sustain four consecutive quarters with an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent or lower.

In case you’re wondering, the current unemployment rate in California is approximately 12 percent, and it’s been under 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters only three times since 1980. But hey, the L.A. smog helps provide shade on those deathly sunny afternoons, so who’s complaining?

You’ll want to be careful making your decision on Prop. 24. It would repeal corporate tax breaks approved by the Governator himself, and that could make him angry. You probably wouldn’t like the Governator when he’s angry. You might, however, reevaluate your priorities here when you realize there are billions of California dollars at stake.

Prop. 25, like Prop. 22, deals with the state budget. However, Prop. 25 aims to amend issues related to the passage of the budget, rather than within the budget itself. If passed, Prop. 25 would allow for the state budget to be passed by a simple majority rather than the two-thirds supermajority currently required. It also states that for every day beyond the deadline of June 15 that a state budget is not passed, the legislature will go uncompensated.

Capping off the ballot is Prop. 26. It would require new fees, levies, charges, and tax revenue allocations to be passed by a two-thirds supermajority rather than the current simple majority. Supporters say these impositions are in essence taxes, and thus must be passed by a supermajority just as the income or sales tax are.

So we’ve gone through the smorgasbord of available entrées, right? Wrong. As I said, these are just samples of each proposition. Over the next weeks leading up to Nov. 2nd, I will review each proposition in more depth. Next week are Propositions 20 and 27 on the election; on Oct. 15 are Propositions 21, 24 and 26, on taxes; Oct. 22, I’ll cover Propositions 22 and 25, the state spending propositions; and, ending with a bang, Propositions 19 and 23 will be featured just a few days before voting.

I do, though, have one proposition of my own: I propose that you take a few minutes out of your day to register to vote, become informed about the issues at hand, and let your opinions count on Nov. 2. Even for you fellow out-of-staters, registration is easier than spotting a longboard on campus. Just go to and follow the simple instructions. Keep in mind, though, that registration cards must be postmarked no later than Oct. 18. Happy registering, and see you in November!

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