Oh, What a California It Will Be When These Initiatives Succeed

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Many people have heard that California will most likely be considering some form of legalized recreational marijuana initiative (here, here, here and here) (pdfs) on the November 2016 ballot. But the state’s secretary of state has cleared 28 other prospective ballot initiatives for circulation and the gathering of qualifying signatures. This would be a very different state if they passed. Here are a sampling:

1. Human LifeAdds a couple sentences (pdf) to Section 1, Article 1 of the state Constitution to declare that “all human life is inviolable. It cannot be terminated, defiled, or destroyed with impunity under any circumstances.” It does not define what human life is. There are also two other abortion-restrictive measures circulating.

2. ElectricityReplaces most investor-owned utilities (pdf), such as Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, with a publicly-owned California Electrical Utility District.

3. Secession—Beats Texas to the jump and gets the ball rolling on leaving the union (pdf) and gaining autonomy for the eighth-largest economy in the world. This is sponsored by Sovereign California President Louis J. Marinelli.

4. Elimination of Spousal SupportNo more alimony (pdf) for newly-divorced people and a rollback of payments for those already split up. “Terminates existing spousal support awards if the award is for less than ten years, unless a court grants an extension of up to one year. Reduces to zero, at the rate of 20 percent per year over a five-year period, existing spousal support awards that are greater than ten years in length.”

5. State Prescription Drug PurchasesSlashes the price (pdf) of prescriptions for a lot of people by requiring state agencies not to pay more for a drug than that paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That would include instances where the state put up the money but didn’t make the actual purpose. It exempts certain drugs covered by Medi-Cal.

6. Political Contributions—“Prohibits candidates, committees and certain political mailer organizations from receiving funds from non-California residents (pdf),” except for federal contests. Could be tough sneaking this one past the money-equals-speech U.S. Supreme Court.

7. President of CaliforniaChanges the title (pdf) of Governor to President, presumably after California secedes from the union and forms its own nation. It’s another proposal from Sovereign California. Does this mean Jerry Brown can run for the top office again?

8. Legislature Expansion—“Increases size of Legislature almost 100-fold (pdf),” and that’s just the start. It divides Assembly and Senate districts into neighborhood districts and requires that those people elect working committees the size of the two current legislative bodies to write and pass legislation. But the legislation must be approved by the smaller groups, which maintain sole power to amend bills.

9. Limits Use of Facilities in Government Buildings and Businesses—Guess which facilities? Allows discrimination against transgender people (pdf). Gender determinations will be made at or near birth, presumably by sharp-eyed observers.

10. Religious OrganizationsRescinds tax exemptions (pdf) for religious organizations that do bad things, like failing to report criminal activity, not complying with court orders or palling around with terrorists.  

11. Abortion Access Restriction—Unless an unemancipated minor appears in court and proves their maturity or real need, they can’t have an abortion without parental notification or proof of parental abuse.

12. Vaccine Exemption—Reverses recent action by the Legislature and governor to remove the personal belief exemption from immunization programs for schoolchildren.  

There are still 13 initiatives on the runway, waiting for review by the attorney general before their supporters can begin the 60-day process of gathering signatures for ballot inclusion. A petition for the Sodomite Suppression Act (pdf)—otherwise known as Kill the Gays—was rejected.

–Ken Broder


Initiative and Referendum Qualification Status (California Secretary of State)

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