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* Primary Election, Tue March 5 2002

Prop 40: The California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002

I vote no on all bond issues even if the underlying spending is otherwise valid: we should not be borrowing from our children to pay for things that ought to be funded by current revenues.

As an added insult, the proponents of this measure scream in the ballot proposition that "YES ON 40 WILL NOT RAISE TAXES". While technically correct, this is intellectually dishonest.

Besides, didn't we just pass $4B in bonds for this same purpose a couple of years ago?

My vote: NO

Prop 41: Voting Modernation Act of 2002

This is $200M to pay for voting machines and the like (to make California a chad-free zone), and though the underlying purpose seems reasonable, there is just no reason that we should be borrowing money to pay for it. Take it out of the current budget.

But: the proponents were decent enough not to claim that this won't raise taxes. Sorry guys.

My vote: NO

Prop 42: Transportation Congestion Improvement Act

Most fuel taxes (gas & diesel excise taxes, diesel sales taxes) go to transportation purposes, but historically gasoline sales taxes (in particular) have gone to the general fund where everybody competes for them. In 2000, the CA legislature passed a bill that dedicated gasoline sales taxes to specific transportation purposes until 2008. This is in current law.

This ballot measure would effectively put current law into the California Constitution, and then make it continue to take effect even after 2008. Because it will be in the Constitution, it will require a vote of the people (not of the legislature) to reverse or amend it. It can be said to cast the law into stone.

The proponents make the reasonable argument that transportation taxes ought to go for transportation purposes.

The opponents are the groups that would likely lose out on the funding, and they include seniors, firefighters, and public health workers.

I support this measure. Nobody likes taxes, but fuel taxes can easily be seen as a "user fee", which makes the people who use the roads pay for the roads. Locking these fees into a specific purpose means that the legislature won't be tempted to treat them as a general fund.

My vote: YES

Prop 43: Right to Have Vote Counted

This adds one sentence to the state constitution:

A voter who casts a vote in an election in accordance with the laws of this state shall have that vote counted.

This is superficially very attractive: who'd not want this? The proponents bring up all kinds of Florida references, and it all sounds very appealing.

The opponents are just plain goofy: they are using this as a platform to push campaign finance reform (in particular, pimping public financing of campaigns). This is a big WTF?

I've decided to vote against this.

  1. I am not so sure that I even buy the underlying premise: if people can't figure out how to vote properly, I don't feel like we should move Heaven and Earth to divine their intentions after the fact. Voting is an expedient, and there are limits to how far I think we should go to accomodate people who can't follow instructions. But even in the case of malfunctions of equipment and the like, there is a certain amount of "sh*t happens" that we have to accept in the absense of actual fraud.
  2. We cannot wish away Federal deadlines for turning in election results.
  3. This smells like it's going to lead to shenanigans

My vote: NO

Prop 44: Chiropractors. Unprofessional Conduct

This measure would take away the medical license for chiropractors that have been twice convicted of Medicaid/insurance fraud, plus forbid the use of "runners" and "cappers" - people who troll for chiropractic customers.

Proponents make the obvious and appealing case that the cheaters should be punished: the costs of fraud are passed on to everybody. They make the interesting point that these provisions already apply to "regular" doctors, but a historical quirk requires that changes to the Chiropractic Practice Act be put before the voters.

The opposition to this is led by the Libertarian party, who make the case that we should separate "medical issues" from "fraud issues": if a doctor is a cheater, punish him in the conventional way: put them in jail, fine them, make them pay back what they stole. You should only take away a medical license if they actually harm their patients, and a doctor who's trying to make restitution will sure as hell have a harder time doing so if he's no longer able to practice medicine.

Oddly, I am only slightly persuaded by the Libertarian arguments. Though in general I like their argument, in this case it's the license itself that is the enabler of the fraud in the first place.

This is not at all an easy case, so I'm reluctantly voting against it. But I'm very much open to being persuaded otherwise.

My vote: NO

Prop 45: Legislative Term Limits. Local Voter Petitions

California has term limits: two terms and then you move on. This measure would allow local voters to petition for their local officeholder to run for one more term.

Proponents bill this as "Term Limits that make sense", and they argue for local control by the voters. Supporters include the CA Democratic Party (quietly), plus the usual consumers of government funding: seniors, firefighters, nurses, teachers.

Opponents claim that this will undermine term limits, and this not surprisingly includes the term limit people.

Even though I am not a huge fan of term limits (I believe that it solves the wrong problem), I completely oppose this measure. I was mostly against it when I read the measure in the ballot pamphlet, but my opposition was solidified when I saw the pro-45 stuff on TV: they claim that it actually strengthens term limits.

This is so dishonest I can hardly believe it, though considering the source(s) I guess I shouldn't be surprised, It's mainly supported by groups who benefit from cozy relationships with politicians. It's very easy to oppose anything that the teacher's union supports.

My vote: NO