Editorial: B.A.R. CA prop recommendations

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022
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State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins spoke at a reproductive freedom rally. Photo: Courtesy Twitter<br>
State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins spoke at a reproductive freedom rally. Photo: Courtesy Twitter

State ballot measures on the November 8 ballot run the gamut from codifying the right to abortion to sports betting on tribal lands to deciding whether to uphold a state law banning the retail sale of flavored tobacco. Below are the Bay Area Reporter's recommendations.

Proposition 1: Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. YES. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, California leaders planned to place a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot prohibiting the state from interfering with or denying an individual's right to reproductive freedom. Led by lesbian state Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles), the Legislature in late June passed the amendment, which now has to go before voters. Abortion is already legal in California up to fetal viability and after viability if the procedure is necessary to protect the health or life of the pregnant person. But after the Dobbs decision, legislative leaders were concerned that future federal action might undermine state law and that a state constitutional amendment was necessary. Reproductive freedom is an essential right that the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong to take away with its Dobbs decision. Prop 1 is needed to ensure that such bodily autonomy decisions remain under the purview of pregnant people, their families, and their doctors, and not conservative politicians and judges. Vote YES on Prop 1.

Prop 26: Allows In-Person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. YES. This is one of two Indian gaming initiatives on the ballot. Prop 26 will empower Native American tribes in California to build upon their legacy of legal gaming and honors the state's long commitment to Indian tribes by creating new sources of revenue, jobs, and opportunity for tribal communities. According to the campaign's website, it will also help non-gaming tribes by increasing funds distributed through a revenue sharing trust fund. The in-person gaming changes, much like the games already allowed at tribal casinos, will be highly regulated and for adults only. In short, we understand the desire of Native American tribes to want to increase gaming options at the casinos, and Prop 26 is the best way to do it. Vote YES on Prop 26.

Proposition 27: Allows Online and Mobile Sports Wagering Outside Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. NO. This is the other gaming initiative on the ballot, and it's bankrolled by out-of-state gambling corporations. It would allow online gaming in partnership with tribes. The airwaves have been blanketed with ads for and against Prop 27, and while proponents argue the increased revenue is a "solution" to homelessness, that's a big stretch, particularly since the revenue sidesteps the state's general fund, according to the No on 27 campaign. It would be the largest expansion of gambling in state history and turn cellphones, laptops, tablets, computers, and video game consoles into gambling devices. This is especially troubling for youth and those prone to excessive gambling. It will also hurt the Indian tribes that have casinos on tribal lands. The way Prop 27 is crafted, providers must be licensed in at least 10 other states and pay a $100 million initial license fee, a Bloomberg article noted. That means only the big gaming concerns will likely qualify, like Bally's Corp., Wynn Resorts, and BetMGM, which support Prop 27. Some smaller tribes support it because they see an opportunity to get more money, but ultimately, much of the money will go to the large gambling corporations. Vote NO on Prop 27.

Proposition 28: Provides Additional Funding for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools. Initiative Statute. YES. This measure is spearheaded by Austin Beutner, the former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent. It would establish minimum funding for arts and music education in all PK-12 public schools by annually allocating from the state general fund an amount equaling 1% of required state and local funding for public schools. Schools with 500 or more students would be required to use 80% of the funding for employing teachers and 20% for training and materials. Arts funding has declined in the state's public schools due to budget cuts and an emphasis on reading and math. This measure would put arts and music education on better financial footing for the benefit of students. Vote YES on Prop 28.

Proposition 29: Requires On-Site Licensed Medical Professional at Kidney Dialysis Centers and Establishes Other State Requirements. Initiative Statute. NO.This is the third time that the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West has pushed for a ballot measure around dialysis centers. We've opposed it, supported it, and this time oppose it again. Mandating a doctor to be at a dialysis clinic is not an effective use of their time — the same would be true of other eligible staff under the proposition — because they need to be at hospitals and other clinics attending to other sick kidney patients. If a dialysis center has issues with a patient, staff can contact physicians immediately and they can send a patient to a hospital if needed. Vote NO on Prop 29.

Proposition 30: Provides Funding for Programs to Reduce Air Pollution and Prevent Wildfires by Increasing Tax on Personal Income Over $2 Million. Initiative Statute. YES. This is a wealth tax to support clean air programs. The state spends billions of dollars fighting wildfires, which have become a seasonal occurrence thanks to climate change. Prop 30 would add a 1.75% percentage point tax on personal income over $2 million for individuals or married couples. That would generate an additional $3 billion to $4.5 billion annually, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. The money would be spent for zero-emission vehicle subsidies; zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations; and wildfire suppression and prevention programs. The state recently said it would end the sale of gas cars within 12 years. While that is a good goal, people aren't going to buy zero-emission vehicles if there aren't adequate charging stations, which is already a problem in California. (About 16% of vehicles sold in California this year were electric, twice as many as in 2020, according to CalMatters.) This tax makes sense if the state is truly going to embrace zero-emission vehicles. Vote YES on Prop 30.

Proposition 31: Referendum on 2020 Law that Would Prohibit the Retail Sale of Certain Flavored Tobacco Products. YES. Tobacco companies are challenging a 2020 state law (that never went into effect) that banned most flavored tobacco products. (There are exceptions for hookah, premium cigars, and loose leaf tobacco.) A yes vote is to keep the flavor ban in place; a no vote is in favor of repealing the law. As we saw in San Francisco in 2018 when voters supported an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors that banned flavored tobacco, this state law is important for public health. We know that Big Tobacco targets communities of color and the LGBTQ community, which is one of the reasons why so many queers get hooked on cigarettes. Tobacco products are flavored with menthol or mimic candy in an effort to entice young users into what is a potentially deadly habit. We're glad the state passed the law, and we urge voters to keep it in place. Vote YES on Prop 31.

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