Proposition 61: STATE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PURCHASES. PRICING STANDARDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This is perhaps the most confusing and most expensive proposition on the ballot and further research into this proposition only makes it more complicated.
In a nutshell, this proposition wants to tie the prices that California pays for prescription drugs, for things like MediCal, to the VA’s announced price for drugs.
The VA administration negotiates and publishes the maximum prices that it will pay for prescription drugs. Note, this isn’t the amount it actually pays, but what it has decided is the maximum allowable price. This proposition would adopt this pricing structure for drugs purchased by the state of California. This would not affect drug prices for individuals who do not get prescriptions through MediCal or some other State-provided healthcare.
The analysis of this by various newspapers and other agencies make it more complicated. There is no indication that this would actually have the desired effect. Drug companies could simply increase the price that they change the VA and therefore charge California more. Also, California may be paying less than these prices already and that price would go up. This also helps explain why there is a major division between people who have come out in favor of the proposition (Bernie Sanders, among others) and those who have come out against it, (basically every newspaper in the state.)
All in all this is a very complicated proposition, with no real good solution.
While I am no ally of the pharmaceutical industry, and cutting into their profits is something I am very much in favor of, I think I will be voting NO on this one. This isn’t a NO vote because I oppose the sentiment but because I think this is something that fundamentally shouldn’t be left to the proposition system. This is the type of issue that is best handled by a legislative body and bureaucratic system analysing the issues and figuring out the best solution. However, I can see why someone would vote yes on this proposition and I don’t really buy the argument that drug companies would raise prices with the VA just to get back at California. I just think the issue is too complex for a proposition. That said, all the polling suggests that it will pass.
Proposition 62: DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 66: DEATH PENALTY. PROCEDURES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
I am going to talk about Prop 62 and 66 as a pair because, as there are no restrictions on the propositions that can be proposed, occasionally we get propositions that are contradictory.
Prop 62 eliminates the death penalty, making the maximum sentence in California life in prison, while Prop 66 essentially fast-tracks the implementation of the death penalty by limiting the number of appeals and removing the requirement for some appeals to go directly to the California Supreme Court.
Prop 62 would also apply retroactively, anyone on death row would automatically be re-classified to life in prison.
Since these propositions are contradictory if both of them pass, the proposition that got the most overall votes would go into effect.
I will be voting YES on Prop 62, and NO on Prop 66.
I believe that there are moral, economic and institutional reasons to be against the death penalty. I believe that killing a person is fundamentally immoral regardless of who is doing the killing, who is getting killed and why. In addition the economic cost of instituting the death penalty is prohibitive and this would fix that problem. Yes it does cost the state to keep someone in prison for life, but it is actually less than having and instituting the death penalty. While Prop 66 does address an element of this problem through its limitation of appeals, it does not fully mitigate the economic cost. Also institutionally, the burden of proof required to ensure that you are not executing an innocent person is prohibitive and I would rather get rid of the death penalty altogether than risk executing an innocent person.
Proposition 63: FIREARMS. AMMUNITION SALES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This proposition adds a number of additional elements to California’s regulation of firearms. Currently California has regulations in place that prevent felons, individuals who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, and individuals with restraining orders against them, from owning firearms. In addition to this the state mandated background checks and maintains a list of gun owners in order to facilitate the removal of firearms from individuals who become prohibited from owning them.
There are also regulations on ammunition as well. These regulations essentially mirror the restrictions on firearms.
This proposition would increase the regulations. It would require individuals to purchase a permit from the state in order to purchase ammunition, this permit would be for a four-year period and could cost up to $50. This permitting process would allow the state to ensure that individuals who are on the prohibited list are not purchasing ammunition.
In addition to this, it would eliminate some of the grandfather clauses that exist regarding large-capacity magazines. Individuals have not been allowed to purchase large-capacity magazines in the state since 2000. However there are a number of grandfather clauses that allow individuals who have purchased magazines prior to 2000 to keep them. This proposition would get rid of these clauses.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. We accept state regulation on nearly everything that we do in our lives, from the houses we live in, to the cars we drive to the food and water we eat and drink. Thinking that firearms are exempt from this seems absurd. In addition, the classic Founder’s argument regarding the Bill of Rights does not apply. The Founders clearly intended the Bill of Rights to only apply to the Federal Government and this is a state measure. The only reason the Bill of Rights applies to the states is through an active judicial process called incorporation. So it is inconsistent to think that we should follow only what the Founders think and that the Bill of Rights should apply to the states and that state governments must follow it.
Proposition 64: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This one is pretty straightforward. It legalizes marijuana for recreational use in the state of California. If this law passes you would be able to: purchase marijuana at a state licensed facility, have up to 28.5 grams of marijuana on your person at any one time, grow up to six plants in your home, give up to 28.5 grams away to any other adult. This proposition defines adult as an individual above the age of 21. The state would also collect a tax on the sale of marijuana which would go to youth programs, environmental cleanup and inhibited driving prevention. It would also make anyone who was previously committed of a marijuana-based offense eligible for resentencing.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. It is pretty clear that the legalization of marijuana has positive effects on states, at least economically speaking. The cases of Colorado and Washington, among others have proven that this is viable and public opinion has shifted to the extent where the role of marijuana as a “hard drug” does not really apply anymore.
Proposition 65: CARRYOUT BAGS. CHARGES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 67: BAN ON SINGLE–USE PLASTIC BAGS. REFERENDUM.
These propositions are related, but also in contradiction so I will deal with them as a pair.
Proposition 65 requires that stores charge a fee of 10 cents per bag and directs the use of this money to environmental issues. Proposition 65 does not ban single-use plastic bags outright, but merely posits a probationary 10 cent charge on their use.
Proposition 67 does ban single-use plastic bags, mandating their replacement with either multi-use bags or easily recyclable alternative. It also mandates a cost of 10 cents per bag,but allows the individual retailer to keep these fees. However this proposition is tricky because California already has a law on the books that prevents the use of single-use plastic bags and this proposition is worded in such a way that a no vote on Prop 67 can be interpreted as a repeal of this existing law.
Let me attempt to make this a bit clearer:
There are a number of scenarios that could occur.
Scenario 1) Prop 65 and Prop 67 both pass: Plastic bags would be banned and the revenue from the sale of bags would be allocated to whichever prop got more votes.
Scenario 2) Prop 65 and 67 both fail. No ban on plastic bags and the existing law preventing their use would probably be overturned, but it would take a court decision to be final.
Scenario 3) Prop 65 passes and Prop 67 fails. There would then be no statewide law passed, but the prohibitive fee would still exist and the money would be given to environmental agencies.
Scenario 4) Prop 65 fails and Prop 67 passes. All the provisions of Prop 67 go into effect, a plastic bag ban, but the stores get to keep the revenues of the 10 cent fee.
This is like a perfect example of a real life game theory, prisoner’s dilemma problem. By attempting to get the proposition you want to pass, (Prop 67) you endanger the entire thing. I will say, whatever happens, this is going to be something that people who study voting behavior are going to write books on from years to come.
Therefore my action, and my advice is to vote YES on BOTH propositions and hope that Prop 65 gets more votes. While this is a less than ideal solution, it is important for this ban to pass overall and voting yes on both gives the greatest chance of this happening.