Here are my recommendations for the 17 (count them: 17) proposition on the California Ballot this fall. You can gauge my support based on how it’s typed – from YES! to YES to yes to no to NO to NO!

51 – School bonds: YES
Today’s students will be supporting me in my old age. I want them well educated. Children in substandard buildings do 6-11% less well than children in excellent school facilities. Sometimes local school districts can’t afford to improve their facilities without some help from others in the state, so let’s come together to give our children their best chance at their best education.

52 – State Fees on Hospitals: YES
This makes permanent (it would require a 2/3 vote to cancel or reduce the fees) a fee that the Legislature routinely raises and maintains, paid by private hospitals, to be in compliance with federal regulations that qualify California for MediCal funding. Until we have MediCare for everyone, we need insurance programs like MediCal, and making sure we’re eligible for federal funding for the program is completely worthwhile.

53 – Statewide voter approval of revenue bonds: NO
Let the Legislature legislate. If they think state funding of a local project to deal with a crisis situation (like the drought or rising sea levels is appropriate) or some other local need (like building a new public hospital), let them fund it. There’s no reason the people of Fresno should be able to stop the construction of a hospital in San Diego, but if this passes, this could happen.

54 – Public posting of legislation: yes
Sure, more transparency in government is a good thing.

55 – Tax extension for education and healthcare: YES
This would extend for another 12 years (2018-2030) part of the tax increase voters approved in 2012. Impacts those making $250,000/yr (couples making $500,000/yr) or more. We need to support education. Those who can most easily afford to pay this extra tax burden should do so. Again, let’s come together to give our children their best chance at their best education.

56 – Cigarette tax: no
An excellent idea that the Legislature should do – but this shouldn’t be an initiative. So I’ll be voting “no” (or abstaining) on this one.

57 – Criminal Sentences; Juvenile Proceedings: YES!
I worked in juvenile justice for three and a half years while in seminary and immediately after seminary and saw first-hand how much our juvenile justice system needs to be overhauled. If the Legislature won’t do it, we should. And the proposals in this proposition are sound.

58 – English Language Education: yes
This allows for more local control of education, allowing individual school districts to decide how they will teach non-English speaking students. Prop 227 (1998) was a racist, xenophobic proposition and it’s high time it was overturned.

59 – Campaign Finance: yes
This referendum is only advisory and it is sufficiently open-ended to get my support. Citizens United was a travesty of justice and needs to be overturned. Note that the League of Women Voters of California opposes it, but I support it because it is only advisory.

60 – Adult films; condoms: no
Should people performing sex acts in pornographic movies use condoms? Yes. Does requiring it need a citizen’s initiative to make it happen? No. This is something the Legislature should do; legislating is what we elected them to do.

61 – State prescription drug purchases: YES
The state spends roughly $3.8 billion (with a B) each year on pharmaceuticals (Medi-Cal, state hospitals, prisons). That’s about half of all prescriptions purchased in in the state. This initiative seeks to reduce costs by leveraging that purchasing power. Seems like a darn good idea to me.

62 – Replaces the death penalty with Life Without Parole: YES!
The Legislature should have done this years ago. They’re not acting, so we will.

63 – Firearms, Ammunition Sales: yes
Tightens regulations on background checks and the sale, purchase, and import of ammunition in California. The Legislature should be doing this, and they have taken steps, but they’re not acting fast enough, so I give this a soft “yes.”

64 – Marijuana Legalization: no
Sure, marijuana should be legalized and regulated like alcohol, but the Legislature should do this, and it’s not urgent. We can wait for the Legislature to act.

65 – Charge for plastic bags: NO!
This is a green-washing initiative proposed by the out-of-state manufacturers of plastic shopping bags to try to stop the banning of plastic shopping bags. Can you say, “Self interest”? I knew you could. It’s dressed up to look like a pro-environmental proposition, but it’s not.

66 – Death Penalty procedures: NO!
This poorly written measure would greatly increase California’s risk of executing an innocent person by shortening the time for appeals and limiting the prisoner’s ability to present new evidence of their innocence. Let’s just save a bunch of money and make sure we don’t kill someone who is innocent by doing away with the death penalty (by voting “yes” on Prop 62).

67 – Ban on single-use plastic bags: YES
Retain California’s plastic bag ban. The question on a referendum is not intuitive; you are being asked if you want to retain the new law. Vote YES to keep the 2014 statewide law prohibiting single-use carryout bags.

Click here  for a summary of my positions, along side those of the California Council of Churches IMPACT, the League of Women Voters-CA, the Sierra Club, and the California Democratic Party.

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