2008 California Propositions for Dummies

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By Chris Johnson and Candice Heaviside

By Chris Johnson and Candice Heaviside

With all the focus of this election on McCain and Obama, some of the California’s propositions have fallen by the wayside. Instead of making you read the entire 79 page voter guide, we here at viewpoints have summarized each of the 12 propositions in order to make your life easier.

Proposition 1aHigh speed rail bond

Voters will decide whether to approve $9.95 billion in bonds as initial payment of $40 billion to fund an 800-mile long high-speed train system between northern and southern California.

The measure is an alternative to counter the high gas prices, and would be beneficial environmentally, and could drastically cut commuter time; potentially transporting passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just over 2.5 hours.

Proposed to be completed by 2030, the $647 million yearly payout over the next 30 years is expected to be offset by passenger fare revenues.

Proposition 2The Peta initiative

This proposition will set new standards regarding animal confinement practices.

Farmers would be required to maintain facilities that allow calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs to be confined in ways that enable them to stand up, lie down, turn freely, and fully extend their limbs.

The initiative will give farmers until 2015 to meet regulations.

Violators may face fines of up to $1000 or imprisonment in jail for up to 6 months. These changes would be humane for the animals and safer for our health as consumers.

Though not costly to implement, it may cost CA farms income.

Proposition 3Children’s hospital Funding Measure

We are being asked to designate nearly $1 billion to fund Children’s Hospitals, including construction, staffing, equipment and modern technologies, from the state’s General Fund.

Eighty percent of the fundwill go to hospitals specializing in the treatment of illnesses such as leukemia, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases that afflict children.

Qualifying hospitals will be expected to meet certain requirements, including providing their aid to high volumes of children eligible for governmental programs. The remaining 20 percent will go to University of California general acute care hospitals.

The fiscal cost of this bond act will cost California approximately $64 million per year for the next 30 years.

Proposition 4Parental Notification of Minor’s Abortion

If enacted as a constitutional amendment, Proposition 4 will prohibit abortion until 48 hours after a minor’s parent or legal guardian has been notified by the physician.

Exceptions include coercion, medical emergencies, and waivers based on evidence of a minor’s maturity or best interests.

Doctors in violation will face monetary damages.

Benefits include notification to relatives if parents are reported to law enforcement or Child Protective Services, and may reduce teen pregnancies, STD transmissions and child abuse.

Proposition 5Rehabilitation reform

Proposition 5 is a complex campaign incorporating several measures reducing consequences of nonviolent drug offenses, mandating probation and treatment, tightening requirements regarding rehabilitation, and increasing parole for serious and violent felonies.

Estimated costs of $1 billion annually for increasing these programs are expected to be offset by reduced prison and parole operating costs, in addition to the estimated $2.5 billion to be saved on initial outlay costs for prison facilities.

Numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements would be created regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation.

Also, there is potential to match the $2 billion Proposition 36 saved by removing criminals from the prison system and reintroducing them into society as productive tax-paying citizens.

Proposition 6Criminal penalties reform

Among the some 30 California criminal law revisions proposed in this proposition are several increasing penalties for convicted felons in the possession of firearms, using or possessing methamphetamines with intent to sell, gang-related crimes and drive-by shootings.

Illegal aliens charged with crimes will be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, youths 14 and older charged with gang crimes will be tried as adults, and tampering with probationary monitoring devices will be recognize as criminal.

Nearly $1 billion will be allocated from the state General Fund to support these facilities, facilitators and initiatives including improved gang intervention programs.

The costs have potential to increase and are being pulled from funds previously distributed to schools, health care and environmental issues.

Proposition 7Renewable energy funding bill

Sets up timelines for utilities to provide renewable energy.

Specifically, Proposition 7 requires that all utilities generate 20 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2010.

The requirement increases to 40 percent by 2020 and increases again to 50 percent by 2025.

The proposition comes with clauses that include penalties for noncompliance and empowering of the Energy Commission to regulate the utilities.

Proposition 8Same-sex marriage ban

Amends the California state constitution to specifically state that only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized or valid.

This comes in response to the California supreme court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is required by the equal protection clause of the same constitution.

Same-sex marriage has been recognized in California since May of 2008.

Proposition 9Victim’s rights

Increases the rights of victims of crimes at parole hearings.

It does this by mandating that victims must receive written notification of their constitutional rights, and increasing the number of people allowed to testify at hearings on behalf of the victims.

It also requires that notification be sent to the victims before any step in the criminal justice process, including bail, plea, sentencing and parole.

Proposition 10Alternative energy bond measure

The state sponsors various initiatives to promote alternative fuels and renewable energy.

This proposition allocates $5 billion into such programs.

The proposition spends $3.425 billion to help consumers buy high mileage vehicles, or vehicles that use alternative fuels, and to fund research into more such fuels.

It also spends $1.25 billion on research for renewable energy such as solar power.

With additional grants to cities and for renewable energy projects, the proposition costs $5 billion.

Proposition 11Redistricting reform

“Gerrymandering” is the unfair drawing of congressional districts to ensure that the votes of certain demographics count less than others.

When one political party controls the state legislature, they draw the districts to the greater advantage of their party.

Prop. 11 takes the power to draw districts away from state legislators and gives it to a bipartisan commission of California citizens.

They can hire consultants and lawyers in the process of making a recommendation.

Proposition 12Veteran’s loans bonds

Allocates $900 million to provide loans to California veterans seeking to purchase homes or farms.

Widely unopposed, the initiative passed unanimously in both the California senate and state assembly. Similar measures have been in place since 1921.

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