By Dave Schwab
Women attending last week's League of Women Voters discussion learned some of the eight legislative initiatives on the Nov. 2 ballot are complicated, conflicting, and in some instances, could have a "retroactive" effect on existing legislation.
One example is Proposition 20/27, two "mirror-image" redistricting ballot proposals.
"What Prop. 20 does is take Prop. 11, which voters approved in 2008, and sets up a redistricting commission at the state level, while Prop. 27 undoes Prop. 11, " Mary Hanson, director of natural resources for the League of Women Voters San Diego County, told La Jolla Unit members at the Riford Center Sept. 14. "If they both pass, only the measure garnering the greater number of yes votes would pass."
If Prop. 20 is passed, Hanson said it would take redistricting out of the hands of the state legislature and transfer it to a 14-member commission composed of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, as well as a few independents.
"Part of all this is to make the process less partisan to prevent gerrymandering creating safe seats for people," Hanson said, noting Prop. 27, if passed, would forbid the state legislature from spending $2.5 million for redistricting once every 10 years.
"Prop. 27 puts redistricting back in the hands of elected officials," she said.
In the first of a two-part presentation on the pros and cons of Nov. 2 ballot measures, Hanson turned to Proposition 24 that would repeal legislation that allows businesses to lower tax liability.
"There were a series of changes to California tax laws passed in 2008-09 and Prop. 24 undoes those," Hanson said, noting a yes vote on Prop. 24 returns tax provisions to what they were before the 2008-09 law changes. That would mean a business would be less able to deduct losses in one year against income in other years, she explained.
Conversely, she said, a no vote on the measure means recently changed business tax provisions will not be affected, and that a business would be able to deduct losses in one year against income in more situations.
Addressing a more widely controversial measure, Hanson next turned to Prop. 23, an initiative statute which would suspend implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) that requires major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less of a full year.
"This proposition doesn't get rid of AB 32 - it suspends it," she said, but added the terms of the suspension are such that, if passed, the provisions of AB 32 wouldn't be implemented any time soon.
Said Hanson: "It suspends it until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Since 1970, the state has only had three periods when the unemployment rate was at 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters; meaning AB 432 would likely be suspended for many years."
The proposition Hanson talked about Sept. 14 that drew the most attention was Prop. 19, calling for legalizing various marijuana-related activities.
"Currently the possession, cultivation or distribution of marijuana is illegal under California law," she noted. "This proposition would change state law to make possession of less than one ounce and cultivation of up to 25 square feet for personal use legal," she said. "It would authorize commercial activity under certain conditions, and leave that up to local governments, not state agencies."
Part two of the League of Women Voters presentation will be Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Riford Center, 6811 La Jolla Blvd.