With 11 ballot propositions, November's state ballot is giving us the opportunity to weigh in on a wide range of issues. Below are my thoughts on this season's ballot measures.
But first, some news. We Californians can now register to vote completely online. If you have a California driver's license or a California issued ID card, then your signature is on file with the DMV, and if the DMV has your signature on file you can fill out a voter registration form on the Secretary of State's website; click here for the online application. Let your friends and family know the deadline to register to vote for the November 6 election is Monday, October 22.
My thoughts on the statewide ballot props:
Prop 30 - Yes Millionaires Tax to Fund Schools and Public Safety
Will prevent $6 billion in cuts and ensures investment in our schools, colleges, and local public safety. How? By raising personal income tax on individual incomes above $250,000 and increasing sales tax a quarter of a cent.
Prop 31 - No Unfair "Reform" Measure
A harmful measure that will freeze state spending so that California’s education and social services are permanently underfunded. The unintended consequences can then only be fixed by going back to the ballot.
Prop 32 - No Stop Exemptions for SuperPACS and Corporations
This is the third initiative attempt to prohibit organized labor from participating in campaign funding, and it opens the floodgates for unrestricted corporate and super PAC spending in our elections. Bad measure.
Prop 33 - Auto Insurance Coverage
Second attempt by Mercury Insurance to change the rules on auto insurance policies. Voters said no in 2010; Mercury spent $16 million to convince us otherwise. I leave it to you.
Prop 34 - Yes Replaces Death Penalty with Life Without Parole
Will repeal death penalty in California, replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Death penalty appeal process is quite costly and the estimated $130 million savings would go to local law enforcement to improve public safety.
Prop 35 - Human Trafficking Penalties
I endorsed Prop 35 but there are pros and cons. It enacts new penalties on enslaving girls for prostitution and other sex crimes. Criticism is that by mandating sentences it increases state costs and can’t be changed without future voter action. Look into it on ballotpedia.org.
Prop 36 - Yes Three Strikes Reform
Improves the 3-Strikes law by ensuring that the life sentence is imposed for violent, serious crimes rather than now when you can be given a life sentence for a non-violent crime. Will save California $100 million per year.
Prop 37 - GMO Labeling
We deserve to know what’s in our food. Requires certain food products to be labeled if they contain genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs). Criticism is it doesn’t cover all foods, others say it’s a start. I'll be voting yes, look into it so you can decide.
Prop. 38 - Munger Initiative
Raises income tax on all incomes to fund K-12 schools. I do not support Prop 38 because the funds can’t be used for services like libraries, police, or helping seniors or the disabled. We all would pay more but many things may get funded less. Prop 30 is better choice.
Prop 39 - Yes Ends Tax Loophole to Fund Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency
Repeals an existing law that gives tax advantage to out of state businesses, then directs the money gained from eliminating tax loophole to fund energy efficiency and clean energy projects that will provide California jobs.
Prop 40 - Yes State Senate Redistricting
Republican Party didn’t like the State Senate districts established by the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, so they put this on the ballot. A yes vote upholds the Citizens Commission maps, a no vote repeals the Commission’s action.
Ballotpedia and the California League of Women Voters are two good websites to get more information on, for example, who is for and against these measures and who the big funders are that support or oppose them.
And, if you'd like to help me spread the word about Prop 30 and Prop 32, email us and we'll let you know when and where you can join me in talking to voters!
Editor's note: Democrat Nancy Skinner currently represents the 14th Assembly District, which includes Berkeley, El Cerrito and Kensington. She is running in the Nov. 6 election for the 15th District, which under the state's recent redistricting plan largely overlaps with her current District 14 but goes further north to Hercules and recedes from eastern areas.