The California Secretary of State’s Office has certified the final list of statewide measures that have qualified for the November ballot.
Along with several big bond and tax questions, voters will get to decide the future of the death penalty, a collection of tough new gun laws, and whether they really like a yet-to-be-enacted statewide ban on plastic bags.
If you start studying now, you might be ready come Election Day. It’s just 130 days away.
- Gun Control: This is a package of gun control measures backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Among its provisions is a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines. It would also require background checks for ammunition purchases. State lawmakers have passed a similar package of laws but neither Newsom nor Senate leader Kevin de León, who pushed the bills in the Legislature, would drop their effort and support the other.
- Cigarette Tax: This would place a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes. The money would be used for health care programs as well as tobacco use prevention and control programs. The cigarette tax currently stands at 87 cents per pack. The increased tax would also apply to electronic cigarettes and other products containing nicotine. The measure comes after the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown raised the state’s smoking age to 21.
- Proposition 30 Tax Extension: If approved, this measure would extend the income tax portion of the Prop. 30 tax increase for another 12 years. It would apply to anyone making more than $250,000 a year. Brown, who campaigned fiercely for Prop. 30 to help bail out the state from a series of huge deficits, has not endorsed the extension.
- Criminal Sentences: Measure sponsored by Brown aims to cut the state prison population by giving inmates a chance for earlier parole and allowing judges, instead of prosecutors, to decide whether a minor should be tried as an adult. The initiative faced a court challenge from the California District Attorneys Association, which said Brown improperly amended an existing initiative to get this on the ballot. However, the California Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Brown’s favor.
- Plastic Bag Ban Referendum: In 2014, Brown signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The governor touted the ban as a way to stop “the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself.” But the ban never went into effect, as plastic bag manufacturers were able to gather enough signatures a few months later to force a referendum.
- Carry-Out Bag Revenue: This measure, backed by the same plastic bag manufacturers who qualified the referendum, would go into effect only if the referendum campaign is defeated and the plastic bag ban is upheld. It would direct money that stores collect from selling paper bags into a special state fund for environmental projects. Proponents say they’re just giving voters a chance to direct paper bag proceeds to “worthy environmental causes.” Critics say the plastic bag makers are trying to force grocers, who support the plastic bag ban, to spend money to defeat this measure.
- Recreational Pot: If approved, California would become the fifth state (after Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington) to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Proponents include Newsom and former Facebook president Sean Parker.
- Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement: Currently, private California hospitals pay a fee into a state Medi-Cal fund, which is used to bring in matching federal dollars for the state health program. In return, the hospitals receive a reimbursement for Medi-Cal services. The fund is set to expire at the end of the year; this measure would make it permanent.
- Public Vote on Bonds: This measure has the potential to spark a number of statewide ballot battles in the near future. The initiative, backed by wealthy San Joaquin Valley farmer/agribusinessman Dean Cortopassi, would require a statewide vote on any project requiring $2 billion or more in revenue bonds. What might that include? Brown’s two “legacy” projects: a high-speed rail system and the proposed twin-tunnel water project in the Delta.
- Multilingual Education: Placed on the ballot by Democratic lawmakers, this measure would repeal Proposition 227, the 1998 initiative (backed by Ron Unz) that ended bilingual education in the state.
- School Bond: After a similar effort fell short in 2014, school districts and developers have qualified a $9 billion bond to fund school construction. Brown is opposed to the measure, which he called “a blunderbuss effort.” He has argued that the current bond system gives an advantage to large districts that are able to quickly complete first-come-first-serve funding applications.
- Condoms in Adult Films: Proposal would require actors in adult movies made in California to wear condoms while filming sex scenes. Earlier this year, California’s Divison of Occupational Safety and Health rejected proposed regulations that would have mandated condom use.
- Prescription Drug Pricing: Sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the same group behind the condom measure, this measure would cap the amount the state can be charged for the prescription drugs it purchases for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, retirees and prison inmates. The pharmaceutical industry is strongly opposed, arguing the measure will limit drug choices for patients.
- Death Penalty Repeal: Proponents of eliminating California’s death penalty (and replacing it with a max sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole) are hoping for a different result than in 2012, when voters defeated another repeal measure, Proposition 34. California has executed 15 inmates since its current capital punishment law took effect in 1978, and its current system of carrying out death sentences is the target of multiple legal challenges.
- Expedite Death Penalty: A group led by former NFL player Kermit Alexander wants to take a completely different approach to reforming California’s death penalty process. The initiative would limit inmate appeals, which in some cases can drag on for decades.
- Legislative Transparency: Backed by wealthy GOP donor Charles T. Munger Jr., this effort would require bills be in print for 72 hours before a vote. It would also mandate that video recordings of all legislative proceedings be posted online. A late attempt by a group of state senators to place their own version of this measure on the November ballot fell short.
- Citizens United: The path to the ballot for this advisory measure was arguably more interesting than the measure itself. Voters will be asked whether they support legislators using the little power they have to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which struck down limits on independent campaign expenditures by corporations and unions. To get on the ballot, the advisory question had to survive a challenge in the state Supreme Court over whether such advisory measures should be allowed on the ballot.