A cynical look at the seven ballot propositions: John Seiler

With just seven state ballot propositions this Nov. 8, voters are spared sorting through the 20-plus initiatives put before them in some past elections. Here are my recommendations.

Proposition 1 would make abortion even more legal than it already is. In a state that micromanages every aspect of our lives, abortion would have close to no regulations, allowing it right up to a second before birth.

This proposition really is an advertisement for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s presidential ambitions. Politico reported he “is spending $2.5 million over the next two weeks to implore Californians to back Prop. 1.” Yet both he and Prop. 1 will win easily. Earlier, he ran similar ads in Texas and Florida, taunting the GOP governors of those states, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, both potential rivals in 2024.

It’s all so cynical. Vote No.

Propositions 26 and 27 are dueling sports gambling propositions. Prop. 26 would legalize sports gambling at Indian casinos and racetracks. Prop. 27 would legalize sports betting on the internet, and give some of the proceeds to Indians and the homeless.

According to CalMatters, $440 million has been spent so far on the two initiatives, a state record. Each is trashing the other. Because in California law, if two similar initiatives win, the one with the most votes is the only one enacted.

The situation stems from a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling throwing sports gambling back to the states. The California Legislature ought to have sorted this out, but once again was AWOL. If the propositions lose, maybe it will do its job for a change. Vote No.

Proposition 28 would mandate up to $1 billion a year on arts education. I might favor this if it mandated all schoolchildren learn to sing the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Seriously, this is called “ballot-box budgeting.” Legislators, city councils and school boards exist to decide where money is spent. If people want more arts spending in schools, they should take it up with local school boards. Although no tax increase is attached to Prop. 28, mandated spending usually brings higher taxes down the road. Vote No.

Proposition 29 is the third initiative in four years to attempt to strap unneeded regulations on the kidney dialysis industry. Once again, it’s a cynical ploy by the Service Employees International Union to gain more members. This time it would add staffing and reporting requirements on treatments, raising costs.

A relative of mine in another state has these treatments and they are life-savers. The system works well and should not be tampered with through trying to trick voters. Vote No.

Proposition 30 increases taxes on those making more than $2 million by 1.75 percentage points. The new top state income tax rate would be 15.05 percent, the highest in the country. That’s on top of the top federal tax of 37 percent. By moving to another state, millionaires and billionaires automatically slough off that extra tax.

The money would go to promoting electric-car adoption and fighting wildfires. Maybe if we try enough, we can exile all the rich people from California and everybody left will be poor. This also is another example of ballot-box budgeting. Vote No.

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Proposition 31 upholds the ban enacted by the Legislature on flavored tobacco. Except for hookahs, because that’s a big constituency. And except for cigars, because politicians cook up these things in smoke-filled rooms. And editorial writers like stogies, especially with bourbon.

Supposedly this is to protect children from getting tricked into puffing menthol coffin nails. But selling to minors already is illegal. What a weird state. Thirty years ago a pack of menthol smokes cost $1.60 and you could go to jail for puffing pot. Now marijuana is legal and you could go to jail for selling menthol cigarettes. Can’t they ever just leave us adults alone? Vote No.

In short, vote No on all seven propositions. A final reason: We need to keep discouraging cluttering our ballots with matters best settled by the Legislature, or not at all.

John Seiler is on the SCNG editorial board.

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