In an election dominated by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, many have turned to the general election stage and away from the equally important local elections and propositions. California’s state propositions detail controversial issues such as marijuana legalization, gun control and the death penalty, which may have a larger impact on Californians than the contentious presidential election.
News Editors Aidan Maese-Czeropski and Adrienne Kwok offer their views on the 2016 California state propositions.
Prop 51: California issues $9 billion in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.
Aidan: NO. This would add $500 million to California’s debt payments every year and construction companies would gain an uneven profit.
Adrienne: YES. Money raised would be used to improve public school and community college facilities. Local communities and taxpayers decide how that money gets spent.
Prop 52: Stipulates that legislators cannot divert funds away from Medi-Cal, thus ensuring that Medi-Cal and hospitals receive all financial resources they are entitled to.
Aidan: YES. This prop makes no drastic changes to our current functioning system of Medi-Cal.
Adrienne: YES. This prop will simply extend an already-existing law that raises money to fund health care costs for children, the elderly and low-income households.
Prop 53: Requires state infrastructure projects over $2 billion to be voter approved.
Aidan: YES. This only applies to major projects and taxpayers should not be arbitrarily forced to finance projects that may fail.
Adrienne: NO. Requiring a vote may delay or halt important infrastructure projects.
Prop 54: Requires that before voting, bills be put on the internet for three days.
Aidan: NO. This will complicate an already slow legislative process.
Adrienne: YES. This will allow the public to have easier access to information about important bills.
Prop 55: Renews an income tax for high-income earners for education and healthcare.
Aidan: YES. While California’s high tax rates are troublesome, this prop does not increase taxes but rather renews an old tax. Prop 55 would also only affect a small portion of California’s population.
Adrienne: YES. Keeping the same level of taxes on the wealthiest Californians will continue to allow funds to be used to improve public schools, community colleges and healthcare.
Prop 56: Increases tax on cigarettes and e-cigarettes by $2 per pack.
Aidan: NO. This proposition is appropriate in theory, but in practice over 80 percent of the revenue will be diverted to insurance companies, with only 13 percent used for tobacco use prevention, according to the California voter guide.
Adrienne: YES. Increasing the cost of cigarettes and e-cigarettes will deter minors from engaging in underage, illegal smoking. Money acquired from the tax will primarily be used on healthcare for low-income Californians.
Prop 57: Makes it easier for nonviolent offenders to get parole.
Aidan: NO. Many seemingly violent criminals are considered “nonviolent” under California law, including some human traffickers and rapists. Prop 57 may allow such people to be released early.
Adrienne: YES. This will alleviate pressure from prisons and will focus energy on rehabilitation, education and good behavior. It is also predicted to save millions of dollars each year.
Prop 58: Gives local control on how to teach English-learners.
Aidan: NO. This would override Prop 227, which mandated that most California classes would be taught in English, and resulted in much higher test scores for non-English speakers.
Adrienne: YES. This prop will allow school districts to decide how to teach English and have more control over immersion programs. The English proficiency standard requirement will remain in public schools.
Prop 59: Tells the state government that Californians oppose Citizens United.
Aidan: NO. Regardless of Citizens United’s results, the eventual goal of this campaign is to pass a constitutional amendment overriding the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. This overturn would be a radical and unnecessary action.
Adrienne: YES. If this prop passes, it will encourage state officials to overturn the Citizens United v. Federal Election commission case, which decreed that large political contributions from corporations were protected as free speech.
Prop 60: Requires pornographic stars to wear condoms during sex.
Aidan: NO. Pornographic film studios already have strict testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
Adrienne: YES. This prop will create stricter guidelines to ensure better safety for the people creating the films.
Prop 61: Regulates drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay the same prices that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays for prescription drugs.
Aidan: NO. This might not lower prices, as pharmaceutical companies could end up raising prices for everyone.
Adrienne: NO. Paying the same price that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays could end up raising prescription drug prices for everyone, hurting veterans.
Prop 62: Repeals the death penalty.
Aidan: NO. The death penalty is an important part of our criminal justice system. While it has historically been costly, Prop 66 will curb costs by speeding up the appeals process.
Adrienne: YES. The death penalty is an ineffective process where those convicted often spend years waiting. Additionally, the death penalty is costly.
Prop 63: Prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition.
Aidan: YES. This will improve safety and is not equivalent to taking away citizens’ guns. Who needs large cartridges of ammunition for hunting, defense or recreation?
Adrienne: YES. Prop 63 includes new background check requirements, which will improve safety by restricting access to guns and ammunition.
Prop 64: Legalizes marijuana for recreational use for those above age 21.
Aidan: NO. Marijuana, when not used for medical purposes, has numerous negative side effects including paranoia, increased heart rate (which may cause heart attacks) and lung damage.
Adrienne: NO. Legalizing marijuana will make it easier for minors to access marijuana, even if it’s still illegal. This prop will also legalize ads to promote smoking marijuana. Even with a “no” vote, the use of medical marijuana will remain legal.
Prop 65: Store revenue gained from the sale of plastic bags will go to environmental programs (If Prop 65 receives more votes than Prop 67, Prop 67 will be negated).
Aidan: YES. While Prop 67 is preferable, Prop 65 would push stores to stop using plastic bags as they would no longer profit from its sale.
Adrienne: YES. This prop will provide an incentive for customers to use their own bags and may reduce environmental impacts caused by plastic bags. However, Prop 67 should be passed to solve the actual source of the problem.
Prop 66: Keeps the death penalty, but speeds up the appeals process.
Aidan: YES. Prop 66 is the best of both worlds: It continues the death penalty while decreasing costs and altering the current slow, painful appeals procedure.
Adrienne: YES. The death penalty is an ineffective, slow and expensive process that may kill an innocent person. However, this proposition will allow for much-needed changes to this process and has the potential to save millions of dollars each year.
Prop 67: Bans single-use plastic carry-out bags.
Aidan: YES. Worldwide, over one trillion plastic bags are used and discarded each year, creating major environmental problems. Prop 67 would lessen our negative impacts on the earth.
Adrienne: YES. Single-use plastic bags are a waste of materials, and their improper disposal can harm wildlife, litter neighborhoods and more. Recyclable and reusable bags may come at a higher cost, but this is outweighed by the benefits it will provide for the environment.