In its "advocacy on issues" role, the League has taken positions on 11 of the 16 propositions on the November 2016 statewide ballot.
Proposition 51 - School Bonds: K-12 and Community College - YES
All California's schoolchildren deserve school facilities in good repair and equipped to provide all students a 21st century education. In a perfect world with adequate funding, we wouldn't need to borrow to build. However, this is not a perfect world, and our facilities needs are massive and require a large infusion of funding. It has been eight years since the last statewide bond measure was passed. Chronic underfunding from the state leaves most public school communities unable to adequately address their needs, increasing the danger of greater disparities among them. Many have passed local bonds but due to insufficient state matching funds, that money remains unspent--a situation this bond measure will help remedy.
Proposition 54 - California Legislature Transparency Act - YES
Prop 54 will make our state government more open, honest, and accountable. With this common-sense reform, every bill must be in print and posted online for at least 72 hours before it may pass out of either house--preventing last-minute, closed-door changes. A video recording of every public meeting of the Legislature must be posted online in a timely way. Our democracy is stronger when more people participate, and this measure empowers all people to review, debate, and contribute to the laws that impact us all.
Proposition 55 - Children's Education and Health Care Protection Act - YES
Proposition 55 is key in maintaining economic recovery and growth in California by continuing the current income tax rates on the wealthiest two percent of Californians, established by the voters in 2012. That measure, Prop 30, has moved California toward financial stability and adequate funding for education and other services we depend on like health care. Without Prop 55 we will be back to the days of pink slips for teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and community college students waiting years for the classes they need.
Proposition 57 - Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act - YES
This measure restores the authority of judges, not prosecutors, to decide if juveniles as young as 14 should be tried in adult court, a right judges had until 2000. The prosecution may file a motion, but the court decides. Proposition 57 will also reduce the state prison population and costs by allowing earlier parole of nonviolent felons, with sentence credits for good behavior and rehabilitation or education. This measure could save tens of millions of dollars.
Proposition 58 - English Proficiency. Multilingual Education - YES
Proposition 58 repeals the most restrictive parts of Proposition 227, a 1998 initiative that limited the methods California schools can use to teach English to students who are not native English speakers. This measure addresses the inequity of Prop 227 and frees parents and their schools to provide the best educational opportunities for all California children regardless of their first language. The League opposed Prop 227 nearly 20 years ago and urges your support for this change.
Proposition 59 - Constitutional Amendment Advisory Measure - NO
Eliminating the corrupting influence of money in our democracy is a vital concern. Unfortunately, this vague, poorly drafted ballot measure is not the solution. A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United may have appeal as a quick fix, but in reality it is a slow, laborious, costly, and potentially unsuccessful strategy. A poorly written amendment could have significant unintended consequences--not the least of which is squelching actual political speech. Voters deserve a fair election system today, not years or decades from now. Instead of looking to an imagined silver bullet, we need to take broad action now, including fixing our Federal Elections Commission, expanding disclosure laws, overturning California's ban on public financing of elections, and asking a new Supreme Court to revisit the ruling.
Proposition 62 - Justice That Works: Death Penalty Abolition - YES
Proposition 62 will abolish the death penalty, replacing it with life without possibility of parole. It will ensure time in prison is spent in work, with an increased portion of wages going to restitution to victims' families. Families deserve restitution, not endless legal appeals, and closure through knowing these worst criminals will never be released. California has spent more than $5 billion to execute 13 people since 1978. Nothing indicates this has been effective in reducing crime, while the risk of executing the innocent remains.
Proposition 63 - Safety for All Act - YES
The facts are sobering. From 2002 to 2013, 38,576 Californians died from gun violence, including 2,258 children. In the U.S., more than 300 Americans are shot each day, more than 80 of them fatally. Prop 63 helps counter those statistics by strengthening background check systems and ensuring that California law enforcement shares data about dangerous people with the FBI. It ensures that dangerous criminals and domestic abusers sell or transfer their firearms after they're convicted. This measure requires businesses that sell ammunition to report lost or stolen ammunition, requires people to notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen, and ensures that people convicted of gun theft are ineligible to own guns.
Proposition 65 - Sowing Confusion about the Plastic Bag Ban - NO
Don't be confused by this deceptive measure--vote NO. Large players in the plastic bag industry spent millions to put this disingenuous initiative on the ballot, creating a distraction that could thwart California's efforts to rein in plastic bag waste and litter. The plastic bag industry wants to use this measure to damage the hard-won agreement between environmentalists and grocers that made the plastic bag ban possible. This is not about helping fund environmental programs but is simply intended to cause enough voter confusion that the more significant environmental measure, Proposition 67, fails. Don't be confused; Vote NO on 65 and Vote YES on 67.
Proposition 66 - Shortening Death Penalty Appeals - NO
This poorly written measure would greatly increase California's risk of executing an innocent person by shortening the time for appeals and limiting the prisoner's ability to present new evidence of their innocence. Raising significant constitutional issues, this could cause more delays, increase taxpayers' costs, and add layers of bureaucracy. It is estimated the state would need as many as 400 new taxpayer-funded attorneys to meet the demand. The wise choice is NO on 66 and YES on 62 to save costs, provide restitution, and prevent executing innocent people.
Proposition 67 - Protect California's Plastic Bag Ban - YES
The League urges a YES vote on Proposition 67 to retain California's plastic bag ban. The question on a referendum is not intuitive; you are being asked if you want to retain the new law. Vote YES to keep the 2014 statewide law prohibiting single-use carryout bags. These plastic film bags pollute our oceans, pose a deadly threat to marine wildlife, clutter our landscapes, create toxic byproducts when manufactured, and are very difficult to recycle. California grocers and other retailers support the ban, and many cities and counties have local measures that are working. Don't let out-of-state plastic bag industry players stop our progress!
Proposition 56 - Cigarette Tax - NEUTRAL
Proposition 56 establishes an increased tax on cigarettes, with the money collected from this tax earmarked for health care and tobacco use prevention. The League does not generally support earmarks but is neutral on this measure because of the benefits from reducing smoking and the increased funding for health care.
Because League positions do not cover the issues in the following measures, the LWVC is taking no stand on Prop 52 (State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds), Prop 53 (Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval), Prop 60 (Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements), Prop 61 (State Prescription Drug Purchases, Pricing Standards), and Prop 64 (Marijuana Legalization).