Hep Cats and Cool Daddies! It’s time for another episode of your favorite podcast Tales From the Dropbox. As always, new tunes abound in Episode 41. On a somewhat sad note, tomorrow is Vin Scully’s last game as the announcer for the Dodgers. I will miss both Vin’s game calls, which are unequaled in the history of sports announcing, and the class he brought to the game of baseball presenting for the listener the best side of baseball despite its often difficult challenges. Vin is Dodger baseball.
I also thought that now would be a good time to start to deal with the record number of propositions that Californians will have to decide in the November election. No time like the present, eh? In addition to voting for U.S. President and Vice President, 154 congressional and state legislative contests will be voted on this November. The offices on the November 8 ballot include:
- one member of the U.S. Senate,
- 53 members of the U.S. House of Representatives,
- the 20 odd-numbered State Senate district members, and
- the 80 State Assembly members.
Californian’s will vote on 17 propositions including some that complex and deceptive to voters trying to determine whether to vote in favor of a particular proposition. As I indicated in the show notes to an earlier episode of Tales From The Dropbox, There is a general rule for assessing whether to vote for a particular proposition is this:
If you don’t know about a particular piece of legislation for whatever reason, or if you are unsure of the consequences of voting in favor of a particular piece of legislation – then always vote NO.
However, there are a number of specific rules for assessing the validity of a particular piece of legislation. Here are my 6 specific rules, all subject to the general rule:
If the government can’t predict the economic impact of the proposed legislation – vote no.
If the proposed legislation is worded in such a manner so as to disguise its true objective (e.g. Prop 60 – the condom law) – vote no.
If the proposed legislation is morally objectionable to you or you believe it will have a significant negative economic impact that will impact you personally – vote no.
If the proposed legislation will accomplish the elimination of a specific societal ill that you personally find ethically/morally objectionable, and will not impose a significant cost on you personally, or you are willing to bear that economic cost – vote yes.
If the proposed legislation will bring about positive change for a particular group of individuals, have no or little financial impact on your life, and is not ethically/morally objectionable to you – vote yes.
If the legislation will bring about a positive change and the financial impact is one you, personally, are willing to bear – vote yes.
Simple reminder about the general rule: if you do not have enough information to make an informed decision for whatever reason – vote no. If a particular measure is critical, it will appear on the ballot again and hopefully the proponent will do a better job of selling it to the voters.
As to not overload you, I’m going to break the analysis of the proposed propositions on the November 8 ballot into a couple of parts over the next couple of episodes of this podcast because you should always listen to music while doing some heavy reading. For your convenience, I have also provided links to each of the described propositions to the California Legislative Analyst Office (a nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor) analysis of each proposition so if you are interested you can read the full analysis. Finally, I’ve thrown in my two cents using the rules described above. I am also willing to tell you how I’m voting in case you are curious.
Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute. Requires performers in adult films to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers of adult films to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations related to sexually transmitted infections. Requires producers to obtain state health license at beginning of filming and to post condom requirement at film sites. Imposes liability on producers for violations, on certain distributors, on performers if they have a financial interest in the violating film, and on talent agents who knowingly refer performers to noncomplying producers. Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potentially reduced state and local tax revenue of millions or tens of millions of dollars per year. Likely state costs of a few million dollars annually to administer the law. Possible ongoing net costs or savings for state and local health and human services programs. (15-0004.)
As I covered this one in detail a number of episodes back – Vote NO on this one. It is bad for the economy and a disguised anti-porn initiative that impacts a significant workforce in the state of California. Whatever your feelings are about porn, the measure will impact jobs in California and if implemented will cause those jobs, many of them legitimate, to move from California hurting our local economy. Remember, always vote NO when the true objective is disguised. However, if you find porn morally objectionable, then follow the specific rule above, and vote YES because you know the true objective is to eliminate porn production in California and have the productions move elsewhere. I’m voting NO.
State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute. Prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Applies to any program where the state is the ultimate payer for a drug, even if the state does not purchase the drug directly. Exempts certain purchases of prescription drugs funded through Medi-Cal. Fiscal impact: It is the opinion of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance that the measure, if adopted, may result in a substantial net change in state or local finances. (15-0009.)
This proposition’s problem is not the idea – lowering prescription drug prices is always good, but as should be obvious by now – no one actually knows what is going to happen to the price of prescription drugs, or the economic impact on individuals who may be priced out of the market. This is particularly true for drugs that the VA does not pay for, such as new and experimental drugs not approved by the VA which have no ceiling. A CAL matters analysis of state spending on prescription drug prices found that in some cases, the government is responding to rising costs by making it harder for people to get medication. Not covered by the measure are those who have private insurance, public school and school district employees or retirees, or the 10.4 million covered by Medi-Cal. Always vote NO when even the government can’t figure out the financial impact. I’m Voting NO.
Death Penalty. Initiative Statute. Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. States that persons found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without possibility of parole must work while in prison as prescribed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Increases to 60% the portion of wages earned by persons sentenced to life without the possibility of parole that may be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduction in state and local government costs of potentially around $150 million annually within a few years due to the elimination of the death penalty. (15-0066.)
One of two death penalty propositions on the ballot, a YES vote on this measure means: No offenders could be sentenced to death by the state for first degree murder. The most serious penalty available would be a prison term of life without the possibility of parole. Offenders who are currently under a sentence of death would be resentenced to life without the possibility of parole. A NO vote on this measure means: Certain offenders convicted for first degree murder could continue to be sentenced to death. There would be no change for offenders currently under a sentence of death.
So what are we talking about here? Since the current death penalty law was enacted in California in 1978, 930 individuals have received a death sentence. In recent years, an average of about 20 individuals annually have received death sentences. The state currently spends about $55 million annually on the legal challenges that follow death sentences. As of April 2016,of the 930 individuals who received a death sentence since 1978, 15 have been executed, 103have died prior to being executed, 64have had their sentences reduced by the courts, and748 are in state prison with death sentences. The state uses lethal injection to execute condemned inmates. Because of legal issues surrounding the state’s lethal injection procedures, executions have not taken place since 2006.
The real issue for many people is likely that we don’t kill people fast enough after they have been sentenced by a jury of their peers to death. Since that objective has only been carried out 15 times since 1978, the state can save $55 million per year and free up courts to deal with other matters. I’d say vote your conscience on this one. Effectively California does not have a death penalty, and unless and until the Supreme Court decides that those sentenced to die don’t have automatic appeals, California will not have an effective death penalty. If this proposition is passed then at least Californian’s will save some money. I’m voting YES.
Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute. Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires their disposal by sale to dealer, destruction, or removal from state. Requires most individuals to pass background check and obtain Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Requires most ammunition sales be made through licensed ammunition vendors and reported to Department of Justice. Requires lost or stolen firearms and ammunition be reported to law enforcement. Prohibits persons convicted of stealing a firearm from possessing firearms. Establishes new procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by felons and violent criminals. Requires Department of Justice to provide information about prohibited persons to federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state costs in the tens of millions of dollars annually related to regulating ammunition sales, likely offset by various regulatory fees authorized by the measure. Increase in court and law enforcement costs, not likely to exceed the tens of millions of dollars annually, related to removing firearms from prohibited persons as part of court sentencing proceedings. These costs could be offset to some extent by fees authorized by the measure. Potential increase in state and local correctional costs, not likely to exceed the low millions of dollars annually, related to new and increased penalties. (15-0098.)
Here is an example of an attempt to regulate the possession of weapons but at a potentially significant economic cost as it develops essentially a new court system to deal with a growing social concern. (NOTE: It does not take guns out of the hands of the police who commit firearms offenses). A YES vote on this measure means: A new court process would be created for the removal of firearms from individuals upon conviction of certain crimes. New requirements related to the selling or purchasing of ammunition would be implemented. A NO vote on this measure means: No new firearm-or ammunition-related requirements would be implemented.
So, the proposed legislation would not impact gun sales, attempt to regulate sales of ammunition, and have little direct fiscal impact unless you are a hunter as the enforcement costs are going to be likely added to the cost of ammo. It would however, put in place a system that will enforce court orders that persons convicted of certain felonies do not possess firearms. This is a good idea in theory and on balance the economic risk appears to be worth the reward. I’m voting YES.
Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute. Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. (15-0103.)
A YES vote on this measure means: Adults 21 years of age or older could legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for non-medical purposes, with certain restrictions. The state would regulate non-medical marijuana businesses and tax the growing and selling of medical and non-medical marijuana. Most of the revenue from such taxes would support youth programs, environmental protection, and law enforcement. A NO vote on this measure means: Growing, possessing, or using marijuana for non-medical purposes would remain illegal. It would still be legal to grow, possess, or use marijuana for medical purposes.
This measure is complicated. There is the potential that the increase in ease of availability of marijuana will lead to increase availability for minors. However, minors who choose to use, are doing so already regardless of the fact that marijuana is illegal. Evidence from other states that have passed similar legislation – Washington and Colorado – suggests that the state coffers are dramatically and positively impacted. The legislative analyst office suggests that the tax revenue derived from the measure could exceed $1 Billion annually most of which would be utilized for enforcement and youth programs. The State would save money jailing users for marijuana offenses.
This measure is also a complicated because, like alcohol and tobacco, there are potentially adverse health consequences from the use of marijuana and increased legal recreational use will likely lead to more DWI accidents. See Marijuana-related fatal car accidents surge in Washington state after legalization; Fatal road crashes involving marijuana double after state legalizes drug. Similar findings are true in Colorado: The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Vol. 4, September 2016.
For me, the decision as to how to vote on this proposition is truly not that complicated. Why? There is strong evidence that people are just plain stupid. I have no religious or moral objection to the legal use of marijuana and would likely vote in favor of the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if I had any faith in the goodness and decision-making ability of people. I don’t. If I truly believed that people would not die as a consequence of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, then I am in. I strongly believe that people should have the ability to choose their “poison” so long as their choice does not adversely impact others. The available evidence strongly suggests that people who use marijuana get in their cars, boats, and other vehicles and drive impaired. Therefore, because I believe that people will not put the lives of others ahead of their own desire to get high – I vote NO. Simply put, the potential negative impact of recreational marijuana use – death of another human – significantly outweighs the fiscal incentives for permitting the recreational use of another drug that impairs the ability to think. Vote No on this measure. I’m voting NO.
So there you have it – analysis of 5 propositions of the 17 on the ballot that will impact your life depending on how you vote. Here is my scorecard:
- Proposition 60: NO
- Proposition 61: NO
- Proposition 62: YES
- Proposition 63: YES
- Proposition 64: NO
The last day to register to vote in the November 8 General Election is October 24. Californians can register to vote online at: http://registertovote.ca.gov/
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #41:
- Martha – “11-45, Legless in Brandon” (Blisters In The Pit of My Heart)
- Butch Walker – “Stay Gold” (Stay Gold)
- Hellfreaks – “Burn The Horizon” (Astoria)
- Death of A Party “Hellraiser” (Rage Millennial)
- Pop. 1280 – “Pulse” (Pulse)
- Chris Farren – “Human Being” (Can’t Die)
- D.A.R.K. – “Loosen The Noose” (Science Agrees)
- The Hunna – “Rock My Way” (100)
- Someone Else – “Hymn For The Underdog” (Power Chord Poetry)
- Belle Noire – “Everything” (What It Means To Be)
- Work Drugs – “American Fool” (Method Acting)
- Nots – “Cosmetic” (Cosmetic)
- Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Well” (Pretty Years)
- Bad Sports – “Done To Death” (Living With Secrets)
- Deap Valley – “Little Baby Beauty Queen” (Femejism)
Well I’m so damn bored I could cut myself only four more hours to kill…. If I could be around you all the time, I’d be content to just stay in every night.