California voters will not only vote for a president Nov. 4. Twelve propositions are on the stateâ€™s ballot with topics including high-speed rail, farm animal confinement and the definition of marriage.
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train
The question: Will California issue $9.95 billion in bonds to fund the first part of a high-speed passenger train system that would eventually connect San Francisco and Los Angeles?
The facts: While Proposition 1Aâ€™s bonds for the projectâ€™s first part cost $9.95 billion, the state Legislative Analyst estimates the payback cost for that portion would be $19.4 billion.
What it means: The high-speed rail project would not be complete until 2030 and may not even stop in Fresno. Taxpayers would pay for the bonds in the next 30 years.
Standards for Confining Farm Animals
The question: Will California require that farm animalsâ€™ enclosures have enough room for them to sit, stand, stretch, lay down and walk around, without increasing the risk of diseases like salmonella?
The facts: Commercial farmers are currently allowed to confine animals in small cages. Proposition 2 would make some of these methods illegal and would recommend cage-free or free-range methods.
What it means: If the law goes into effect, it would be a misdemeanor after January 2015 to confine certain farm animals in small cages. This would affect commercial farmers and consumers.
Childrenâ€™s Hospital Bond Act (Grant Program)
The question: Will California spend $980 million in bonds to renovate and improve the stateâ€™s childrenâ€™s hospitals?
The facts: The population of children in the state is expected to grow by 35 percent in the next 20 years. Proposition 3 seeks to give more money to fund childrenâ€™s hospitals.
What it means: The state Legislative Analyst says the bonds would cost taxpayers about $2 billion by the time they are paid off in 30 years.
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minorâ€™s Pregnancy
The question: Will California require parental notification from a physician before the termination of a minorâ€™s pregnancy?
The Facts: California minors are currently allowed to have abortions without parental notification. If Proposition 4 passes, the minor would have to wait 48 hours to have the procedure, after the parents have been notified.
What it means: According to the state Legislative Analyst, it would cost the state approximately $350,000 dollars to set the rules and $150,000 a year to run it.
Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation
The question: Will California reduce punishment for nonviolent drug offenses and expand the stateâ€™s drug treatment diversion programs?
The Facts: Would reduce penalties for crimes like marijuana possession, while expanding treatment and rehabilitation for prison inmates.
What it means: Proposition 5 would give $460 million for fiscal year 2009-10 to expand treatment programs for drug offenders, possibly releasing 45,000 criminals from prison.
Police and Law Enforcement Funding (Criminal Penalties and Laws)
The question: Will California increase spending on police and law enforcement to a $935 million per year minimum?
The facts: Proposition 6 would lower the age at which juvenile offenders can be tried as adults, in addition to revising other criminal laws.
What it means: Law enforcement would receive an additional $365 million in funding for fiscal year 2009-10. The state currently spends $600 million.
Renewable Energy Generation
Summary: Will California increase regulations on utility companies by requiring them to generate more energy through renewable sources?
The facts: Utility companies would be penalized if they donâ€™t meet regulations and would be prohibited from passing on this cost to the consumers.
What it means: Utility companies would be required to produce 20 percent of their energy through renewable sources by 2010 and 50 percent by 2025.
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry
Summary: Will California limit marriage to only between a man and a woman?
The facts: In 2000, Proposition 22 passed and defined marriage as between only a man and a woman. The California Supreme Court rejected the statute under the state Constitution. This proposition is similar.
What it means: Same-sex couples would no longer be recognized in the state â€” at least until the issue comes up again in the California Supreme Court.
Criminal Justice System, Victimsâ€™ Rights, and Parole
Summary: Will California adopt new state laws to expand the rights of crime victims and restrict the release of prison inmates?
The facts: Crime victims currently have the right to attend sentencing hearings. Proposition 9 would expand those rights to include victims being heard and being present at all public criminal proceedings.
What it means: Victims would gain more rights in the California court system. Money collected from criminals would be allocated to restitution first. Victims would be notified before court proceedings.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy
Summary: Will California issue $5 billion in bonds giving incentive to those who buy alternative fuel vehicles and toward research and development of new renewable energy technology?
The facts: California is proposing to give cash rebates to buyers of high fuel-economy vehicles. Proposition 10 would give $1.25 billion in incentives for researching renewable energy technology.
What it means: Consumers would be eligible for cash rebates if they buy hybrid or high fuel-economy vehicles. Amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000
Summary: Will California give the authority to change state legislative districts to a new redistricting committee made up of citizens?
The facts: Currently, the state Legislature can redraw district lines. The new committee proposed by Proposition 11 would begin redistricting after the 2010 census. The committee would be comprised of 14 members who would go through a screening process to prevent conflicts of interest.
What it means: Power of redistricting would be given to a new Citizens Redistricting Committee.
Veteranâ€™s Bond Act of 2008
Summary: Will California sell $900 million in general obligation bonds to increase funding for loans to California Veterans to purchase homes and farms?
The facts: More than 420,000 veterans have received loans from the Cal-Vet program. Mortgage payments made by veterans would help pay off the debt created by the bond.
What it means: More than 3,600 veterans would be able to receive loans. The total cost after interest would be $1.8 billion; veterans would pay back this cost.