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Nov 19, 2018
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The California Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., in October 2017. (Myung J. Chun/Tribune News Service)

Get to know the propositions before voting

Yes on this, but no on that. It’s a simple answer. But the intentions and consequences of a ballot proposition are not always so simple.

Below are some hot topic propositions and some quick facts about them.

On July 18, the California Supreme Court eliminated Proposition 9. It would have allowed voters to vote on splitting up California into three states.

More water, more problems

Proposition 3

The most expensive proposal on the ballot — which would authorize $8.877 billion in new borrowing — is aimed at securing safe, reliable and clean water for California. However, critics say in the printed voter guide pamphlet of arguments and rebuttals, it will not produce a single ounce of new, usable water.

“This is another attempt to deal with aspects of California’s endless water crisis,” said Dr. Thomas Holyoke, professor of political science. “There are some critical problems that this could help with.”

And some of those problems are deeply embedded in the central valley. A lot of the farmers that get water for irrigation are getting it from the Central Valley Project and this water comes from the Friant-Kern Canal built in the 1940s, said Holyoke.

“A lot of cracks have begun to appear,” said Holyoke. “When the canal cracks, water that is in the canal flows out of the canal through the damage into the ground, and that is water lost to farmers.”

The annual cost to pay off the bonds could average $430 million and would take 40 years to pay off. California is practically a desert, and the only way to collect water is from the sky — rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains. The only way to gather more water is to build dams or improve the ones already in place, scientists say. Yet, not a single dime from this proposal would build a dam, critics say.

The almost catastrophic failure of California’s largest dam, the Oroville Dam, proves that dams must be a priority in our drought-prone state, they add. What the proposition would attempt to do is: improve water quality in the ocean, bays and rivers; capture, treat and reuse stormwater; and repair unsafe dams.

Cheaper gas or safer roads and bridges?

Proposition 6

A no on Proposition 6 would repeal the 2017 transportation law’s fees designated for road repairs and public transport. A yes vote would immediately lower gas prices, which would, in turn, reduce funding for highway and road maintenance.

“The issue here is the tax was enacted to raise additional money for highway repair, and there’s some sense to it. The more you drive on the highway, the more damage you cause to the highways,” said Holyoke.

California has a lot of highways that need repair, said Holyoke, but we don’t see as much in our valley. The problem can be pointed to highways in Los Angeles.

“It is fair to say there is a unique infrastructure problem in California and the state really needs extra funds to deal with road repair problems,” said Holyoke.

The proposal would eliminate $2.4 billion spent annually on existing transportation funding dedicated to fixing roads, bridges and infrastructure, critics say. Two years from now, the reduction would total to $5.1 billion annually, according to analysis by the Legislative Analyst. On every gallon of gas, typically 95.5 cents goes toward tax, meaning that on average motorists pay $18 in taxes for every fill-up.

“Everyone is paying the same gas tax at the gas pump, but lower-income people who may have to drive constantly to get to jobs, have to pay the same tax level as wealthier people,” said Holyoke. “However, my impression that most of the people who want the tax repealed are doing so more on ideological grounds, they just don’t want higher taxes.”

TEN protects Tenants or does it?

Proposition 10

“There’s a lot of concern about being able to find affordable housing in California,” said Holyoke.

From Los Angeles to Sacramento, Californians differ greatly in their rental needs, so who should have power over rent control: Local or state government?

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California’s rent is expensive, in some places more than double the national average, in order to keep competition high for those who want to live here.

“Consequently, a lot of people who work in tech, say in San Jose and Sunnyvale, can probably afford high rent prices,” said Holyoke. “But all of the people who work in the service industry out in the bay area, end up getting priced out of the market entirely when prices go up.”

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act limits local rent control laws. Proposition 10 would repeal that law. In effect, it would restore rental limits to local governments.

“What this is really all about, is trying to find a way to deal with housing affordability crisis in the coastal area of California,” said Holyoke.

But this could also mean that landlords and renters would have unlimited control on housing fees, ultimately increasing rents, opponents say.

Breaks for emergency workers

Proposition 11

Emergency medical technicians rely on long hours to make a living on a minimum-wage salary, are they deserving of a break, proponents ask. This proposal would continue the general current practice of EMTs and paramedics remaining on-duty even on their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls.

A no vote would mean private ambulance companies could enforce labor laws requiring breaks. No argument was officially submitted against this proposition.

Cage-free eggs only?

Proposition 12

A vote in favor of this proposition would establish new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal.

Furthermore, Californian businesses would be banned from selling eggs or uncooked pork that comes from animals raised in conditions that do not meet the minimum requirements.

“This has been brought by animal-rights activists against farmers,” said Holyoke. “And in many cases those animals are raised in not what you would call humane conditions.”

California law right now only requires that these animals have enough space to fully turn, stand up, lie down and extend their limbs. But with this new proposal, by 2022 egg-laying hens would be cage free; breeding pigs would roam in 24 square feet of floor space; and calves raised for veal could have 43 square feet of floor space by 2020. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated the state to spend up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.

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