Skelton: How I Vote on California Ballot Propositions

Here’s the final unvarnished, admittedly biased summary of the seven propositions on the state ballot.

The three measures — on sports betting and taxing the wealthy — are prime examples of special interests exploiting California’s century-old system of direct democracy. Two others – relating to dialysis treatment and tobacco products – are blatant abuses of a rare system.

This is how I see the electoral measures:

Proposal 1: It would enshrine current state abortion rights in the California Constitution.

Democratic sponsors say it’s needed to protect those rights from a future conservative governor or legislature, though such a scenario is virtually impossible to imagine in this blue state.

But they point out that a decade ago, hardly anyone imagined the US Supreme Court would kill Roe v. Wade. But in June, it did, ruling that each state could set its own abortion laws. Who knows what restrictions a future court—or rather a Republican Congress and president—might impose?

But let’s be honest: Politics was the main motivator for most Democratic lawmakers. They put it on the ballot in hopes that Proposition 1 would increase Democratic voter turnout, especially among young women.

The opposition, including the Catholic Church, says the broadly worded proposal would allow abortions up until birth. Based on conversations with some constitutional law professors, I don’t buy it.

“Constitutional rights are never absolute. They always allow some limitation,” Loyola Law School professor Brietta Clark told me.

Example: 2 An amendment to the US Constitution declares that the right “to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” But there are a lot of gun control laws, especially in this state.

Current California law states that once a fetus is considered viable — around 23 weeks — an abortion can only be performed if the continued pregnancy poses a significant risk to the woman’s health or life. That would remain in place, says the “yes” side.

California should pass Proposition 1 and shout loudly across the country in support of abortion rights.

Propositions 26 and 27: Sports betting.

Professional sports betting would be allowed at tribal casinos and four major racetracks under Proposition 26. Under Proposition 27, there would be online sports betting — on laptops or smartphones.

Polls show that both initiatives are failing miserably, and for good reason.

“It turns out that there isn’t a large group of people who are very interested in sports betting,” says Mark Baldassare, a pollster who heads the Public Policy Institute of California.

But there are plenty of people who worry that they are fueling adult gambling addiction, or children who create fake online accounts and get caught.

An unprecedented nearly half a billion dollars in suffocating television ads confused people and resulted in their pox on both measures.

Tribes running casinos are very concerned that out-of-state online operations are cutting into their profits. So they ignored their own Proposition 26 and focused solely on destroying Proposition 27. No one is selling Proposition 26, and everyone – except online gambling outfits – seems to be ditching 27.

They deserve each other. Not on both.

Proposition 28: Funding music and the arts.

The initiative would double state money — from about $1 billion to $2 billion — for K-12 public school programs such as orchestra, choir, dance, art and theater.

They are usually the first class when times get tough. The added money would be permanent and not require a tax increase.

Music and art inspire creativity in students and make them more well-rounded adults.

This is the easiest “yes” vote on the ballot.

Proposal 29: Dialysis treatment.

The measure would tighten requirements for kidney dialysis treatment in clinics. But in reality this is a union using the initiative process as a tool for political blackmail after failed attempts to organize dialysis healthcare workers.

This is the third consecutive general election in which the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has sponsored a similar ballot measure. The first two were soundly rejected and 29 is also trailing in the polls. But the union doesn’t seem to mind. It doesn’t run any TV ads or spend a lot of money selling voters.

A silent message to dialysis companies: Bow down to our unionization or we’ll force you to spend around $100 million every election year fighting our initiatives.

Dialysis clinics claim that increased treatment is not necessary. There are about 650 in California. And a nonpartisan legislative analyst estimates that Proposition 29 will increase each clinic’s costs by “an average of several hundred thousand dollars a year,” possibly forcing some to close.

Californians should say “no” to using the ballot for gross extortion.

Proposition 30: Tax the rich to subsidize electric car purchases.

The initiative would raise the state’s top personal income tax rate to a ridiculous 15.05%. It is already 13.3%, which is by far the highest in the country and about twice the national average. Seven states—including Texas and Florida—have no state income tax.

So we would reinforce our reputation as the state with the highest taxes and strictest regulations and the most expensive place to do business and invest.

The new top rate would be levied on annual revenues in excess of $2 million. That’s not a big group, just 0.2% of taxpayers. But they’re most easily affected by voters — and in this case, a special interest: Lyft, the initiative’s big bankroller.

Of the new tax revenue of up to $5 billion, 80% would help motorists switch to electric vehicles. That includes drivers for Lyft, which the state has ordered to convert to zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

But the state has already earmarked $16.5 billion for a multi-year program to convert electric cars.

Gov. Gavin Newsom calls it a “terrible, terrible initiative.” California Teachers Assn. is opposed because the schools would be denied any increased income.

This tax increase is not needed and is a bad look for California.

Proposal 31: E-cigarettes.

The initiative would ban the retail sale of flavored tobacco products that cause teens to become addicted to nicotine. They would be banned for all age groups, so big brother couldn’t buy a sweet smelling, cancer feeding poison for a child.

Proposition 31 is a referendum sponsored by tobacco giants to repeal a law passed by the legislature in 2020. They spent $20 million to collect enough voter signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. This gave them two more years to make another $1 billion in flavored nicotine sales.

A “yes” vote is needed to finally implement the ban.

Big Tobacco has already won the trade. Now she should lose significantly on the ballot.

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