Get ready!  When you vote this year, you’ll be faced with trying to decipher 17 statewide ballot propositions.  As you may remember from past elections, I’m wildly unenthusiastic about ballot propositions.

I am opposed to propositions on the ballot because they are:

  1. Poorly constructed and written
  2. Hard to change or amend
  3. Eliminate the role of legislative hearings
  4. Proposed by special interests who can’t get the legislature to consider them
  5. The ads on both sides of the arguments are confusing and misleading at best.

In addition to the statewide propositions, there are local county and/or city props to add to the turn off.  I’m told that San Diego has 17 more of their own on the ballot; fortunately, in L.A., we have only seven more.

So keep in mind when you scan my recommendations on these propositions, my tendency is always to vote NO!

Understanding the proposition nomenclatures

  • (init-const-amend) = Initiative constitutional amendment adds a section to the state constitution.
  • (init statue) = Initiative statue is a law, not a constitutional amendment.
  • Initiative is an amendment to the State Constitution and can only be changed by another amendment.
  • Referendum  is a referral from the legislature.  If passed, it is a statute, not a constitutional amendment.

California Statewide Propositions

Here is a brief description and my recommendation on each of the ballot propositions:

#51 – School Bonds (initiative) – $9 billion – Opposed by Governor Brown – for K-12, charter and community college construction and modernization.  Local districts can pass their own bond measures.  Vote: NO

#52 – Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program (init-const-amend) – extends and makes permanent existing law that imposes fees on hospitals to fund health care for uninsured and children.  Would be hard to change.  Vote: NO

#53 – Revenue Bonds (init-const-amend) – would require statewide voter approval for local projects of $2 billion or more.  Vote: NO

#54 – Legislation and Proceedings (init-const-amend) – prohibits passage of any legislation unless published 72 hours in advance, plus record and video meetings.  Vote: YES

#55 – Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare (init-const-amend) – extends by 12 years the “temporary” income tax increases on earnings over $250,000 to fund schools.  Vote: NO

#56 – Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research and Law Enforcement (init-const-amend) – adds $2/pack, bringing total tax to $2.87/pack, which proponents say will reduce smoking (NY charges $4.35/pack.  Proceeds mostly go to Medi-Cal but somewhat questionable.  Obviously opposed by the big tobacco companies.  Vote: NO

#57 – Criminal Sentences, Parole, Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing (init-const-amend) – allows parole for non-violent felons and allows juvenile court judges’ decision on trying accused as an adult.  Vote: YES

#58 – English Proficiency, Multilingual Education (initiative) – to help students learn English as quickly as possible.  Questionable and duplicate wording.  Vote: NO

#59 – Corporation, Political Spending, Federal Court Protections (advisory question) – meaningless use of ballot to recommend Congress overturn Citizens’ United case.  Vote: NO

#60 – Adult Films, Condoms (init statute) – requires adult film performers to use condoms and requires performer vaccination, testing and medical exams.  Will lose tax revenue from adult films moving out of state and incur lots of lawsuits.  The performers don’t want it!  Vote: N)

#61 – State Prescription Drug Purchases (init statute) – requires drugs purchased by the State to be priced at or below same drug purchased by Federal Veterans Affairs Department.  More bureaucracy!  Vote: NO

#62 – Death Penalty (init statute) – this bans the death penalty.  Vote: YOUR CONSCIOUS

#63 – Firearms, Ammunition Sales (init statute) – attempts prohibit possession of large capacity ammunition and requires background checks and DOJ okay to purchase ammunition.  It imposes burdens on law enforcement.  Vote: NO

#64 – Marijuana Legislation (init statute) – legalizes adult (21) use of marijuana, imposes taxes on sales and cultivation, but has no DUI standards.  Too flawed!  Vote: NO

#65 – Carryout Bags Changes (init statute) – confusing attempt to direct fees collected by grocery stores for carryout bags to support environmental projects.  Vote: NO

#66 – Death Penalty Procedures (init statute) – this initiative will streamline and shorten the process if the ban on the death penalty doesn’t pass.  Vote: YES

#67 – Ban on Single Use Plastic Bags (referendum) – would prohibit grocery, convenience, pharmacies and liquor stores from providing plastic carryout bags.  Allows 10ȼ charge for paper carryout bags.  Vote: YES

And for Los Angeles County, here’s my view:

  • Measure A:  County Tax for Parks – Vote: YES
  • Measure M:  L.A. Metro Tax for Transportation – Vote: YES
  • Measure CC:  Community College bonds – Vote: YES
  • Measure HHH:  Homeless Housing Bond – Vote: YES
  • Measure JJJ:  Affordable Housing Mandate – Vote: NO
  • Measure RRR:  Department of Water and Power Reform – Vote: YES
  • Measure SSS:  Airport Police – Vote: NO

Even the ones that sound good are each flawed in their own way.

Recap you can cut out and take to the polls

Prop 51: No Prop 58: No Prop 67: Yes
Prop 52: No Prop 59: No L.A. County: All Yes
Prop 53: No Prop 60: No L.A. City HHH: Yes
Prop 54: Yes Prop 61: No L.A. City JJJ: No
Prop 55: No Prop 62: Your choice L.A. City RRR: Yes
Prop 56: No Prop 63: No L.A. City SSS: No
Prop 57: Yes Prop 64: No


1 Comment

Filed under Blog


  1. Gary W.

    Hi Art,

    I agree with all your choices except two which I’ll share with you below:

    Prop 53 – I vote YES. I do so because I see too many shenanigans going on in Sacramento and feel voters should have some recourse, in addition to one’s vote in the next election, to restrain spending especially on these rare, large projects like the bullet train. Too much influence in Sacramento coming from our large cities (LA, SFO, San Diego) needs some balance and I think the voters, through this initiative, will accomplish that.

    Prop 67 – I vote YES. In my career I ran a major project for a company that collects residential garbage in San Jose. I learned a bit about problems associated with these plastic bags including the fact that they blow away in the wind and virtually never degrade. Drive down any highway and you’ll see them creating an environmental challenge for those assigned to get rid of them. In addition, I live in a county that passed this legislation several years ago and I’ve seen, with minor adjustment, citizens helping make this work. A win for citizens, for the environment (and I’m not at all an “environmentalist”) and for the taxpayer where it will no longer be necessary to spend time and money getting rid of these bags.

    Thank you, Art, for sharing your selections. As I said, I think you got most of them right.

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