Ballot Initiatives

California Senate Choices Got You Down? Check Out These Ballot Initiatives Instead.

Voters will have 16 other issues to consider Election Day.


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Californians may not get an actual choice between candidates for Senate, because the state's top-two post-primary run-off system has left everybody with two establishment Democrats as nominees. But they still get a whole host of ballot initiatives to weigh in on.

California is well-known for regularly having a large number of ballot initiatives put before the voters every November. This November, Californians will have 16 of them. Some have been pushed along by special interest groups, which is a very bad corrupting influence on democracy unless it matches your particular ideology, then it's just the people's voice being heard! I kid, but that tends to be what it feels like sometimes. On the other hand, it's not clear that, despite whining about how some things should be put to a public vote, California's state legislature actually fundamentally operates any differently. Capitulating to special interests? That's a job for the experts!

But anyway, there are quite a few issues of interest to liberty-minded folks in California. Those who are not terribly impressed with their presidential or Senate choices can still have a say in matters of importance. Here's a look at some of the more significant initiatives:

Recreational Marijuana Legalization. California famously attempted to pioneer legal use with a ballot initiative in 2010 that failed. Now that other states ended up leading the way, it's back and altered to hopefully appeal to more voters. Proposition 64 will legalize recreational marijuana use and cultivation with heavy regulation and taxes. The state estimates the increased sales tax revenue could surpass $1 billion dollars a year. Read more about the initiative from Jacob Sullum here.

Plastic Bag Bans. The California legislature enacted a law 2014 that would bag single-use plastic bags from most grocery stores and pharmacies and mandate a 10-cent charge on recyclable or reusable bags. A referendum has pushed the issue onto the fall ballot as Proposition 67. In order to keep the law on the books, a majority must vote yes on Prop. 67. Read how awesome plastic bags actually are in a Reason cover story from last October by Katherine Mangu-Ward.

The Death Penalty. There are two competing ballot initiatives on the death penalty in November. Proposition 62 would eliminate the death penalty in California and replaces it with life in prison without parole. On the opposite side, Proposition 66, favored by some county district attorneys around the state, would actually speed up the process for executing prisoners in the name of saving money. More importantly, this pro-death penalty proposition has a poison pill counter to Proposition 62. It states that if Prop. 66 receives more affirmative votes than other voter-approved measures about the death penalty, Prop. 66 will overrule them. So both initiatives could pass with a majority vote (which doesn't make logical sense, but could technically happen). If 62 passes with fewer votes than 66, the death penalty will remain intact.

Condom Mandates in Porn. Proposition 60 would require performers in all adult films to wear condoms. It also requires adult film producers to pay for performer vaccinations and testing. The initiative's big supporter is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which, wouldn't you know it, helps provide such services. The ballot initiative also permits any state resident to sue noncomplying porn producers for thousands of dollars in fines. If they succeed, they get to keep 25 percent of the money and legal fees. The rest of the money goes to the state. Elizabeth Nolan-Brown wrote about these porn mandate efforts in our April issue of Reason.

Gun Control. Even though a whole bunch of gun control bills just made it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, that's apparently not enough for some. Proposition 63 controls ammunition sales, bans the possession and demands the destruction of large-capacity magazines, requires background checks to purchase ammunition, and for ammunition sales to be approved by and reported to the Department of Justice. Oh, and of course, law enforcement officers and retired law enforcement officers are exempt from the large magazine ban. The state predicts that regulating the sale of ammunition will likely cost tens of millions of dollars, which will probably be offset by regulatory fees (which means: price hike!).

Citizens United. A chance to vote against the First Amendment! How lucky it is to be a Californian. This utterly pointless "advisory" proposition is to encourage California's legislators to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court decision that affirmed that corporations, non-profits, unions, and other group entities have the right to independently pay for and publish political speech.

Tax Increases. But of course! Proposition 56 would increase California's cigarette (and e-cigarette) taxes by another $2 to increase funding for healthcare programs. If the tax increase results in less revenue due to decreased consumption (or, you know, black market purchases), it authorizes offsetting the losses by pulling revenue from elsewhere. Proposition 55 would extend for 12 years what was originally sold to Californians a temporary income tax increase on  higher-level incomes to fill holes in education budgets. Guess they found some more holes! Imagine that.

Criminal Justice. Proposition 57 offers some sentencing reform that allows for some earlier parole consideration for those convicted of non-violent felonies. It also provides for judges, not prosecutors, to determine whether to treat juveniles over the age of 14 as adults for crimes.

More information about all the ballot initiatives that qualified for November's vote, as well as links to the text of each initiative, is all here.

NEXT: The Big Fat Lie

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  1. to determine whether to treat juveniles over the age of 14 as adults for crimes

    So judges can assault the plain meaning of words, not prosecutors.

    Oh, Calfornia. Please Caliexit.

    1. California, delete your statehood.

  2. straffinrun’s apparent ban has got me down. What gives?

    1. Wha?

      1. He’s been disappeared.

    2. Staffinrun hasn’t been banned, his (her/xer) comments have merely become un-comments.

      1. What thread?

        1. He announced it under a different handle in the Should Clinton Skate thread.

          1. It was all very mysterious.

        2. I did some minor verification research and I found old threads where people are replying to Staffinrun, but a conspicuous absence of the original comment. Per Lee G’s response below, xes now posting under “shutterdown” and aksing why xer comments have been scrubbed, despite being unaware of any ethical or legal breaches.

          1. Not discussing it means there is a gag order from the Feds. Just sayin’

            /tinfoil hat doff

            1. What’s Japanese for “woodchipper”?

              1. What’s Japanese for “woodchipper”?


            2. Yeah, but I really don’t recall straffin as being subpoena/gag bait.

              1. Yeah, but I really don’t recall straffin as being subpoena/gag bait.

                Neither do I, but let’s not forget that “There’s a special place in hell for people like this,” was also targeted.

    3. straffinrun’s apparent ban has got me down. What gives?

      Refs unperson. Doubleplusungood.

      1. SIGSEGV

  3. What is with these stupid plastic bag bans? Enforce your litter laws if you see too many flying around. Reuseable bags get unsanitary and are a pain to tote around.

    (Not to mention half the people virtuously using reuseable bags I see when they are getting out of the gas-guzzling SUV in the store parking lot.)

    1. I don’t even have a car – I should be able to trade that in for some plastic bag indulgences.

    2. Usually a new on-lease Land-Rover, or other properly social-signalling symbol of wealth.

      Because single moms trying to make rent on their job at the grocery store deli counter don’t have cutsie designer grocery bags made of organically grown Australian hemp to do the shopping. Their version of “reusable bag” is the same crappy plastic wal-mart bag they bought groceries in last time. And they re-use it as a trash can liner, because they can’t be wasting money on liners from Hefty.

    3. (Not to mention half the people virtuously using reuseable bags I see when they are getting out of the gas-guzzling SUV in the store parking lot.)

      that’s not the real crime. The real crime is it slows the checkout process to a crawl.

    4. Reuseable bags get unsanitary

      You’re supposed to wash them.

      1. The problem is easily solved by merely buying bags at the checkout stand. In Seattle, they charge 5 cents a bag. I no longer donate to any charities at the checkout line. Foregoing a single dollar in charity giving buys 20 bags, far more than I use in a single trip.

        I mentioned this strategy on a Seattle Times comment thread and everyone went apeshit.

        1. Always buy all 20 bags, and then indiscriminately litter with the excess.

        2. You are a real pro. That’s a-list trolling right there!

        3. Those bags cost like 0.0001 cent to produce. Guess who gets to keep the rest?

          This insanity was recently passed but delayed here in NYC. I’m not some suburban housewife who keeps cloth shopping bags in the back of a station wagon – I go food shopping on a whim and it’s very likely that I’ll just wind up throwing money at the grocery stores just because 51 assholes at City Hall decided I have to.

          1. I’ve actually seen people petitioning in Oakland to get the ban repealed because they see it as a “corporate giveaway.”

            You’ve got to take what you can get, I suppose.

        4. True. From what I’ve read the reusable bags can only be washed 5 or 6 times so if they cost a dollar, you’re coming out ahead if plastic bags cost less than 20 or 17?.

          On the other hand, I prefer much tougher canvas bags which can be washed many more times and I find them useful for things other than groceries.

          I do hear that the cheap reusable bags make good cheap planters?

          1. We use the plastic bags to take out the trash in. We’re too cheap to buy trash bags.

          2. I bought some Chico reuseable bags when the NorCal Raley’s was throwing them at me for 99 cents each. I’ve washed each several dozen times and none have died yet.

      2. No, you just throw them away and get new ones.

        Made from the skins of endangered species.

        1. You ever smoke a plastic bag? Man, does that knock you out.

        2. Baby seal fur shopping bags! I like it.

          1. “Hey, could you pass that baby seal fur bag over here. I went grocery shopping and bought some Endangered Species kabobs, I think I left them in the bag…”

  4. Ok, the death penalty one is worth voting “yes” on both just for the LOLs.

    Ok, not really. The death penalty is obscene. But politics is probably even more obscene, so gallows humor, amirite?

    1. Wait, if you vote yes on both can it somehow legalize the death penalty for politicians? Because if so, I’m moving to California so I can vote on that.

      1. If I had not already left CA, I’d demand the death penalty so that the state could put me out of my misery.

        Seriously… C’mon San Andreas, it’s time to blow!

  5. The plastic bag ban is already a thing in a number of LA municipalities, if not most of them. I’m sort of confused about the reusable bag surcharge though, would stores charge you for bringing your own bag, or would they just tack on an excise tax for buying a reusabe bag at the point of sale?

    The pr0n provision seems designed to drive the industry out of the state (or underground). The post-production, distribution, and hosting will stay where it is, but the actual filming will probably move to Nevada or Miami.

    1. The actual filming is already moving out of state, thanks to a local ordinance. But it is known that unintended consequences cannot happen, even if they already are happening.

      1. Hopefully more porn stars will be moving to my state. Unfortunately we too are infected with the Progressive Brownshirts who can’t wait to regulate bedroom activity here, so I’m guessing so goes California, so goes my state.

        1. Plus it’s no longer 1993 so nobody wants to live in WA.

            1. Is there a way to short the real estate market in Seattle?

    2. Good point on the tax. I’m sure there is an explanation that doesn’t involve subsidies to the plastic bag distributorship.

      On the porn post-production and distribution staying in Cali…. why would they do that? Miami enjoys 0% state tax. California is up around 13% at the top bracket, and has another 1% surcharge if you make 7 figures. So if you own a porn production company, you don’t move it to Florida, why exactly?

      Less tax, nicer beaches, …. and a schizophrenic state that is half American South and half New York refugee. Hm… not sure how that last bit cuts. Still, cutting 13% off of your tax bill has to be a plus.

      1. Post-production companies are in LA because of the Film/TV/Internet/Music industries. There’s no reason for companies (even if they specialize in adult stuff) to pull up stakes when filmmakers can Dropbox the raw footage. I’m sure there are some post/distro/hosting companies already in Miami, and there will be more when the talent moves east.

        1. Dropbox (and its competitors) is blocked on the firewalls at the film/TV/porno companies I’ve worked with. They’re paranoid about movies leaking out.

          What they do instead is have post production offices up and down the West Coast (and I include BC in West Coast). Some are interconnected with very fast (500 MbE and 1 GbE) site-to-site links and others use datacenters with XenDesktop, View, etc., for remote sessions in the datacenter where the movie files are located.

          A lot of them are located here simply because they industry has been here for 100 years so the talent is here or coming here but they are opening up offices across the US and the globe.

          1. So they do like VPN type of setups? That seems like it would slow shit down to a crawl even with high speed lines.

            Pr0n producers are usually a lot smaller and less concerned about leaks, so I imagine they would be okay using out-of-the-box solutions like DropBox. But like I said, there are probably post-prod companies aplenty in Miami already because the industry already has a presence there.

            1. No, these are dedicated links for the bigger companies.

              The porno producers were smaller but they did have side businesses with non-porn content (including children’s movies!).

  6. OT: Not sure if this has been covered, but it’s a good relief from the ever increasing daily nut punches:

    Climate Nazis Fail

    1. Interesting article. I tried to point out the freedom argument on a couple of the skeptic blogs and was roundly rebuffed.

      I tried to explain that it is a pretty straightforward attempt to quell political dissent by pointing out just how outraged they’d be if a Texas AG dragged a green energy company into court for fraud on their statements about climate change. I got no traction whatsoever.

      Evil oil companies are being investigated for fraud. If they are innocent, the process will play out in their favor.

      I bring this up because this is a community that organizes itself around the principle of objective reason. They exist as an entity to educate people about cognitive biases. And yet even when pointed out in excruciating detail, they cannot spot the plank in their own eye.

      Quite instructive, actually.

      1. This will go nowhere because it’s so patently obvious that with this precedent, anyone making public comments about anything could be held to criminal account. This is nothing more than a short-term stunt by the truly committed that don’t actually care about things like unintended consequences.

        I’d like to think that people on both ends of the political spectrum know what the implications are and simply back away from this slowly.

        1. I’d like to think that people on both ends of the political spectrum know what the implications are

          Unfortunately not.

        2. The left are not overly cautious with the precedents they set. Like the one they set yesterday that is going to allow future GOP administrations to totally ignore the rule of law.

        3. Here’s where it goes….

          They subpoena all records of any sort all the way back to the 70’s, ostensibly to get at “what did they know, and when did they know it”. But what they are really looking for is any other thread they can pull, any embarrassing facts, any incidental information that might lead them elsewhere.

          First, the process is the punishment. Second, they are praying that they find something, anything that will allow them to force a tobacco sized settlement onto the oil companies. They want a vig on all future oil revenues, and they are willing to use extortion to get it.

      2. Skeptics are not skeptical about CAGW to the point of being religious fanatics. Double shame since they hold themselves to be above religious people and mock them on a regular basis in blogs and podcasts. They are a joke and don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

  7. Gun Control. Even though a whole bunch of gun control bills just made it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, that’s apparently not enough for some. .

    It’s never enough for some.

    The state predicts that regulating the sale of ammunition will likely cost tens of millions of dollars, which will probably be offset by regulatory fees (which means: price hike!).

    All features, not bugs.

    BTW, sorry California gun owners, I hope this passes. I hope it passes with shockingly high majorities just like I594 passed here.

    I want to see people flouting the law in mass numbers.

    1. It’s never enough for some.

      I will believe they’re being honest when they just come out for the complete confiscation of all private arms. It’s what they want, we all know it’s what they want, but they act like screeching howler monkeys when you call them out on insisting otherwise.

      1. It won’t be enough until Hillary gives the confiscation order.

        1. My dream scenario is Trump gives the confiscation order.

          1. My dream scenario is Gary Johnson gives the confiscation order and then makes sexting punishable by death through executive order.

          2. As Hillary’s VP or while Hillary is serving as his VP?

  8. Condom Mandates in Porn. Proposition 60 would require performers in all adult films to wear condoms.

    So I guess the success of LA’s provision has driven backers to pound this home across the state?

    1. booooooooo

    2. Does that apply to Game of Thrones or other productions where the use of a rubber would be anachronistic, or are they just required to use sheepskins?

  9. Watch porn and if you see something say something.

  10. it’s back and altered to hopefully appeal to more voters. Proposition 64 will legalize recreational marijuana use and cultivation with heavy regulation and taxes

    So it’s the heavy regulation and taxes that Californians like, not the legal weed, no?

    1. Because this time the TOP.MEN won’t waste that extra revenue by spending it three times over on supertrains, ejukashun, and pensions.

  11. …the state’s top-two post-primary run-off system has left everybody with two establishment Democrats as nominees.

    In a state of 39 million, a mere 940,000 votes is now keeping every candidate and every party but two Democrats out of the political discussion for a solid 5 months before the election.

    I hope everyone who ever thought California’s Top Two primary was a good idea has changed his or her mind.

    1. I hope everyone who ever thought California’s Top Two primary was a good idea has changed his or her mind.

      There are two democrats in every race who disagree with this sentiment.

    2. The notion was that entrenched incumbents would at least have to defend their seat, even if it’s from a young upstart. Most of the districts aren’t seriously contested anyway, so I don’t care so much either way about the notion of Top 2.

  12. The condom in porn law will just lead to more backdoor workarounds.

    1. AHF are master of politics. They’ll just get a new law passed.

    2. Ironically, most gay porn uses condoms anyway. Barebacking is niche.

      1. You’re full of interesting tidbits….

  13. I have some proposals;

    1) Mandate the use of plastic bags, on the grounds that a) Re-usable bags spread disease, b) paper bags cost more in resources to produce, and c) Since the plastics used in plastic bags are made from the sludge left over from gasoline refining, the bags represent a new improvement.

    2) Introduce a mandatory Death Penalty for legislators upon completion of a third term.

    3) Require the sponsors of any bill that, in practice, greatly overruns its estimated costs to make up the difference out of their personal finances.

  14. Whenever I think of California, I think “statist sh*thole.” How does so much suck concentrate in one place?

    1. You think you’re safe? LOL.

    2. California is the hot chick of states. And just like most guys will put up with a ton of shit to be able to date and fuck a hot chick, Californians will endure no end of high taxes and government incompetence in return for sunny weather, beautiful coastline, hip cities, mountains, and redwood forests.

      1. California has a lot of hot chicks. Just saying.

  15. Channeling my inner James L. Petigru: California is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.

  16. A Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, how idiotic. Didn’t these morons pay attention to North Carolina having their Same Sex Marriage constitutional amendment being overturned by the Supreme Court?
    Article 3 section 2 of the US Constitution extends judicial power to the courts in all matters of the law. that includes constitutional amendments and treaties. ( edification for those who think the Second Amendment can be nullified
    by a UN Treaty. )

  17. If it didn’t take soo much effort and money to get an initiative on the ballot I would try my best to ban disposable condoms in CA for the lulz. Those can’t be good for landfills and fishes and stuff.

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  19. you missed the point on the top two rules in Novebmers. This just means the General election is in June, with a runoff in November.

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