What’s on Your Ballot?

California voters are being asked to weigh in on 11 statewide propositions and Measure W on the November 6 ballot that address, in part, housing, humane treatment of farm animals, with repeal of the fuel tax and eliminating Daylight Savings time garnering some national attention.

Proposition 1—This $4 million bond measure ostensibly funds housing programs for veterans. The initiative includes $4 billion of state general obligation bonds to fund existing housing programs. $1.5 billion would go to the state’s Multifamily Housing Program for low-income residents, and $1 billion would be used for loans to help veterans purchase farms and homes. The final billion would be split between “infill and transit-oriented housing projects” ($450 million) and a million for “manufactured and mobile homes,” ($300 million) according to the official ballot summary.

Supporters of the proposition, including the non-profit Habitat for Humanity, argue that the bond will help ease the state’s housing crisis. Critics counter that the measure is a cash grab for developers, and that little of the money will ever actually aid veterans.

Proposition 2—Would use the state’s existing two-billion-dollar “millionaire’s tax,” to fund homelessness prevention and housing. The measure would authorize the state to use revenue from Prop. 63, a one-percent tax on income above $1 million that passed in 2004 but was tied up in litigation. If the initiative passes, it would authorize the release of $2 billion in revenue bonds for homelessness prevention and for housing for individuals who need mental health services.

Like Proposition 1, critics of this measure are expressing concerns that it will benefit developers. National Alliance on Mental Illness Contra Costa President Charles Madison and Executive Director Gigi Crowder wrote the official argument against the proposition, describing it as the “Bureaucrat and Developer Enrichment Act.”

The authors of the argument in favor, including Zima Creason, CEO of Mental Health America of California, and David Swing, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, counter that Proposition 2 “builds housing and keeps mental health services in reach for people.”

Proposition 3—An $8.877 billion bond measure to fund water-related infrastructure. $2.355 billion would go toward conservancies and state parks “to restore and protect watershed lands and nonprofits and local agencies for river parkways.” The money includes $40 million for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, funding that the state agency is counting on to complete acquisition of the final piece of Triangle Ranch in Agoura Hills.

The measure allocates $640 million for groundwater sustainability agencies; and $500 million for public water system infrastructure improvements. The measure requires that projects in disadvantaged communities receive priority consideration for grants.

Proposition 4—Would provide $1.5 billion for children’s hospitals, with 1.8 billon going to seven non-profit hospitals, including Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. Five University of California Hospitals, including UCLA, would share $270 million, while the remaining $150 million would be awarded to unspecified public and private hospitals that provide pediatric services to children eligible for California Children’s Services.

Proposition 5—Attempts to address the rising cost of housing by revising the home-buying process for seniors and individuals with severe disabilities, to enable them to transfer their tax assessment rate.

Proposition 6 is easily the highest profile ballot measure in this November’s election that would repeal the 2017 20-cent per gallon fuel tax. Opponents caution that if the initiative passes, it will drastically reduce the annual state transportation tax revenues, leaving California’s crumbling transportation infrastructure to eventually collapse, but the proposition is seen as more than a simple matter of road repair.

Many observers view it as a referendum on national politics, with high-profile, out-of-state Republican politicians pitching in to support the initiative. The list includes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, neither of whom have anything to do with California. The proposition is also supported by the California Republican Party. Repealing the tax is a major main campaign issue for Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, and the national GOP views the initiative as a way to get Republican, and Libertarian voters, who overwhelmingly oppose the tax, to the polls.

The opposition is led by Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The California Democratic Party is also opposing the initiative, together with the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Bicycle Coalition.

Taking billions of dollars a year from road maintenance and repair borders on insanity,” Brown stated in the official argument against the proposition.

Proponents argue that the $ .20 tax is regressive and places too big a burden on many families.

Proposition 7—This would authorize the process for the California legislature to implement permanent daylight savings time, eliminating the twice-a-year time change. However, the change would have to be approved by the federal government. That requirement has generated what is arguably the most pessimistic argument ever seen in a California election.

“If California wants it, the federal government is going to say ‘no,’” says Santa Barbara state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson in the official argument against the measure, apparently arguing that there is no point in trying to change the time change because Congress will just say no.

The ballot’s proponents point to studies showing that the twice-yearly time change may not just be a minor inconvenience but a health hazard, increasing the risk of heart attack by 10-percent, and the risk of stroke by eight percent during the two days following the shift.

Proposition 8—Regulates the amount outpatient kidney dialysis clinics charge for treatment. The measure proposes limiting the charges to 115 percent of the costs for direct patient care and quality improvement costs, including training, patient education, and technology support, and requires rebates and penalties if charges exceed the limit.

Proposition 9— Removed from the ballot after the numbers were assigned.

Proposition 10—Also relates to housing. Seeks to overturn a law passed more than two decades ago that limited rent control in California. If it is passed, this initiative would once again allow cities to enact rent control.

Proposition 11 is intended to improve working conditions for ambulance drivers and other emergency medical personnel (EMT). It would allow workers to remain on-call during breaks and be paid at their regular rate; require employers to provide additional training for EMTs and paramedics, as well as paying for mental health services. There is no official argument opposing this measure.

Proposition 12—The eleventh and final state initiative addresses humane treatment of farm animals. It sets the specific minimum confinement area for veal calves (43 square feet), pigs (24 square feet), and egg-laying hens (one square foot). The measure also seeks to move California away from the practice of keeping hens in battery cages, requiring that all California egg producers transition to cage-free housing by 2021. It does not specify that they must be pasture-raised, which has raised red flags for some animal welfare groups.

While many animal rights groups are supporting the measure, including the Humane Society and the ASPCA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Friends of Animals have joined the  Association of California Egg Farmers and the National Pork Producers Council in opposing the measure, arguing that the authors of the initiative have made false promises, and that the measure will make conditions worse for animals, not better.

“California was supposed to be cage free by 2015,” the official argument against the measure states, referring to Proposition 2, passed in 2008. “Proposition 12 would repeal that voter-enacted law in order to allow egg factories to provide each hen with just one square foot of cage or floor space.”

The ballot initiative’s proponents counter that “Mega-factory farms that cage animals cut corners and drive family farmers out of business,” and that Prop 12 creates “sensible standards that keep family farmers in business—and allow them to grow.”

Measure W—Los Angeles County residents have another measure to vote on: Measure W, a property tax to fund the Los Angeles Region’s Public Health and Safe, Clean Water Program. The two-and-a-half-cent per square foot property tax on “impermeable area” would fund stormwater capture and filtration, bolstering the area’s water supply and helping to eliminate ocean pollution.

Most homeowners in the Topanga area could expect to pay between $200-$400 a year, on top of their existing property taxes. A calculator is available to determine the exact amount of the tax for every property. An exemption for low-income seniors is provided as part of the initiative.

VOTER DEADLINES

  • The deadline to register to vote in the November 6 election is Monday, October 22.
  • The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Tuesday, October 30.
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is a writer, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She’s covered environment, arts, science, history and crime for the local media for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of music for the Celtic harp. She can be reached at s.guldimann@messengermountainnews.com

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