Thursday, October 20, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 4: Props 63-67

My final review post for the California proposition. (Remember you can read the full text of each proposition as well as more in depth arguments for and against each proposition at ballotpedia.org/California_2016_ballot_propositions).


Proposition 63 is the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative. The proposition prohibits the possession of large capacity magazines and requires most individuals (exemptions include law enforcement, correctional officers and licensed private security companies) to pass a background check and obtain authorization from the California Department of Justice to purchase ammunition. Arguments for Prop 63 are that it will close loopholes in existing law. It protects the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-defense, hunting and recreation. It is supposed to address the issue of illegally armed felons. The arguments against Prop 63 are that it will burden law-abiding citizens who own firearms. It would not keep firearms and ammo out of the hands of criminals. Prop 63 would divert resources away from local law enforcement and burden an already burdened court system. Opponents also claim that Prop 63 is a safety risk and waste public resources.


Proposition 64 is the Marijuana Legalization Initiative. It is designed to legalize recreational marijuana and hemp products under state law and establish a 15% sales tax, a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves. It is designed to prevent license for large scale marijuana businesses for 5 years (as to prevent an “unlawful monopoly power”). Prop 64 also has provisions related to the rights of employers, driving under the influence and marijuana business locations. Under Prop 64, marijuana would be legal for individuals 21 and older. It would exempt medical marijuana from some of the taxation requirements. Prop 64 establishes packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. It prohibits ads and marketing to minors and allows local regulation and taxation. Prop 64 also authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Supporters for Prop 64 claim that it safeguards against minor use while allowing responsible adult use. It would generate tax revenue and provide funding for after school programs, drug prevention education, treatment programs and research on impaired driving. They also claim that Prop 64 would prevent legislators from using revenues for pet projects and it would make marijuana safe, controlled and taxed. Opponents of Prop 64 claim it would result in more highway fatalities due to impaired driving and increase black market and drug cartel activity.


Proposition 65 is the Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund Initiative. It is designed to required al revenue generated by state mandated sale of carryout bags to be earmarked for a special fund for specific categories of environmental projects. Supporters of Prop 65 claim it would stop plastic bag fee revenue as extra profits for grocery stores. Instead the fee revenue would be directed to the California Conservation Board who would be responsible for allocating the funds to various projects. Opponents of Prop 65 claim it serves the interest of the plastic bag companies and would distract from the phase out of those bags. The proposition does little to help the environment.


Proposition 66 is related to death penalty procedures. It is designed to keep the death penalty in place while speeding up the appeals process by putting the trial courts in charge of initial petitions, establishes a time frame for death penalty reviews and requires appointment of attorney to work on death penalty cases. It would require death row inmates to work and pay restitution to victims’ families. Supporters argue that Prop 66 keeps the death penalty in place while making provisions to make sure that no innocent person is executed. Opponents argue that with the sped up process, Prop 66 would increase the risk of executing an innocent person and remove all legal safeguards.


Proposition 67 is the Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum. It would ratify Senate Bill 270(2014). It would prohibit large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing plastic single use bags with a provision for smaller stores to have an additional year. It allows single use plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and other perishable items. It would mandate stores to charge 10 cents for recycled, compostable and reusable grocery bags with an exemption for consumers using the California SNAP program. Prop 67 also provides $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers for the purpose pf retaining jobs and transition to making thicker, multi-use and recycled bags.  Supporters of Prop 67 argue that the opposition campaign is funded by out-of-state plastic companies who aren’t invested in protecting California’s environment. They claim Prop 67 will help protect the environment without hurting low-income consumers or decreasing job creation. According to Jon Berrier, a spokesperson for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, summarized the organization's arguments against Prop 67, saying, "The [plastic bag] industry obviously is opposed to this particular piece of legislation because it seeks to ban a 100 percent recyclable product and also put fees on consumers for other bag alternatives. It’s all orchestrated as a cash grab by members of the California Grocers Association to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees, none of which goes to a public purpose” (San Francisco Chronicle, “Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban,” December 29, 2014).


My final thoughts on these propositions. On Prop 63, I don’t see how it will address the criminals who will have access to these guns and magazines. Criminals are criminals for a reason. They will find a way to get them and still get them, they will. On Prop 64, the opponents claim that legalizing marijuana would led to an increase in the black market. How? The black market is usually no longer there for a substance that is no longer illegal. For instance, when Prohibition ended in 1933, the rate of bootleggers dropped dramatically. Did it eliminate bootleggers? No; however, many bootleggers lost money because people didn’t need to use them to obtain alcohol. Will the same happen with marijuana? I don’t know; but, saying that Prop 64 will increase the black market seems to be a weak argument. On Prop 65, I like that it keeps the bag fee from being extra profits for the stores; however, I can’t see how it guarantees the money will be used for the projects the proposition is designed for. Yearly audits maybe? Oh, but paperwork can be faked. I’m not sure about Prop 65. On Prop 66, the other death penalty proposition, I don’t know how a law can guarantee that no innocent person would be executed. How about no innocent person in prison in the first place? Lastly, on Prop 67, I understand the motivation behind the plastic bag ban because too many people do not dispose of the bags properly; however, the reusable bags aren’t always a healthier alternative as many people do not clean them out for the next use. I think the ban is a good idea and I think once the bags are phased out and people get used to the alternative, they will see its benefits. I just think we could have more than one alternative. Maybe bags which can be laundered? After use, throw them in the laundry. Cleaned and sanitized for the next use? Thank you for reading my thoughts on the propositions. I hope I was able to clear up some confusion or inspired you to look into the propositions a little more closely. Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote.