By Richard Reeb| For the Victorville Daily Press
California is one of 24 states that authorize citizens to vote directly on legislation or constitutional amendments that are proposed either by the initiative of the voters, the legislature or referendum. After some lean ballots in recent years, we face a dozen measures come Nov. 3 on a variety of subjects, including health, civil rights, property taxes, voting rights, rent control, parole and bail, and consumer privacy.
An initiative statute that would authorize $5.5 billion in state bonds to fund stem cell research, which, with interest, would climb to $7.8 billion. Proponents claim that it dedicates $1.6 billion to brain research but say nothing about whether, as in its original form, it includes embryonic stem cells. Opponents suspect that is the case, condemning their destruction as unethical. I would add, as the less scrupulous Chinese Communist regime discovered, their cherished multifaceted character leads to wildly unpredictable results in human beings. Vote no.
An initiative constitutional amendment at least equally malicious as 14, as it aims to undercut the historic property tax reform effected by a famous initiative passed in 1978 that cut property taxes for all property owners, both residential and commercial. It does this by striking at what proponents believe is its alleged privileging of large commercial interests. But opponents not only believe the measure is unfair to small commercial properties, but predict that residential property owners are next if the measure passes. Vote no.
An especially obnoxious measure, a constitutional amendment proposed by the state legislature to overturn a 1996 amendment that put an end to racial discrimination under the guise of diversity in state hiring, contracting and college admissions. Despite covert efforts to ignore the ban of official violation of civil rights, the existing provision has generally succeeded. The claim of systemic racism is as bogus now as it was 24 years ago. Vote no.
This legislative constitutional amendment, is cut from the same cloth as 16 in that it gives preferential treatment, here by permitting convicts to obtain voting rights before they have completed their parole. Their debt to society is not paid on the day they leave their prison cell as they are still under the supervision of persons with the authority to revoke it. It does not matter, as proponents claim, that other states have taken this step. It still trivializes the voting privilege. Vote no.
This is equally ill-conceived, a legislative constitutional amendment extending voting rights to children months before their 18th birthday by allowing them to vote in the primary election if they qualify for the general election. Proponents thrill at adolescents participating in politics, ignoring the opponents valid counterargument that voting is a big responsibility that should be reserved for persons who actually have responsibilities. Vote no.
Yet another legislative constitutional amendment that attacks property inheritances by persons 55 and over as not deserving of the same tax-saving protections as other transfers. Proponents anticipate increased tax revenues but opponents see that as unfair to parents seeking to help their children. Vote no.
An initiative statute limiting access to parole for such crimes as misdemeanor shoplifting with actual jail time for the offenders. The current absurd policy permits perps to steal as much as $950 worth three times! before they face serious consequences. Besides ending this madness, the measure would expand DNA collection in cases of rape and murder. Critics fear excess confinement that would overload the prisons, which supporters discount. Vote yes.
An initiative statute that would allow hundreds of our local governments to impose rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. Proponents call this a useful tool against homelessness, but opponents say it undermines the existing state rent control and would drive up the cost of housing, thereby doing nothing to increase supply. Vote no.
An initiative statute aimed at freeing app-based transportation and delivery companies from Assembly Bill 5 that requires all contract job holders to be redefined as regular employees so that they are provided the benefits and costs, as well as possible unionization. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash qualified this measure and pay for advertisements. They tried to escape the confines of this law through court action but failed. The measure provides some employee benefits but opponents reject it root and branch. Vote yes.
An initiative statute that would require a medical professional on site for dialysis treatment. Proponents claim it combats poor hygiene but opponents argue that it would force many clinics to shut down. Would the passage of this measure lead to a similar requirement for blood work or x-rays? Vote no.
An initiative statute that aims to protect consumer privacy but it is so convoluted that critics fear it would have the opposite result. Proponents say it will check Big Techs data collection but opponents say that consumers ability to restrict them would take far too long.Vote no.
A referendum that would replace existing law that requires bail for persons accused of crime with a system based on public safety and flight risk, purportedly enabling poor defendants to avoid heavy financial burdens that well-to-do suspects easily bear. Proponents promise a fairer and safer process as well, but opponents are skeptical of its dependence on computer-generated profiling. Vote no.
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of Taking Journalism Seriously: Objectivity as a Partisan Cause (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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