Elections 2014: The Props

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

As you read this, there are just about three weeks left before the November 4 election. This week I’ll cover the California statewide, and one LA County, ballot measures. Some of the easier choices were addressed three weeks ago in “Elections 2014″ and any remaining items will be addressed next week.

Proposition 1 is a water bond. This measure has been some six years in the making. It was pulled off the ballot twice and reworked. It provides funding for various water related infrastructure projects throughout California. These could be related to wastewater treatment and safe drinking water; protecting rivers, lakes, streams, coastal waters, and watersheds; water security, climate, and drought preparedness; statewide water system improvements; water recycling; groundwater; or flood management. Now, roughly $7.5 billion will be authorized if voters pass it, instead of the original $11 billion when this compromise was originally crafted. Vote “Yes” on this item, it is long overdue.

Proposition 2 is a constitutional amendment that creates a budget stabilization fund, helps local school districts, creates a reserve for when a budget deficit occurs, and helps reduce the state’s debt financing costs. A very long overdue idea, it’s a no-brainer. Vote “Yes” on this item.

Proposition 45 authorizes the elected insurance commissioner to approve/disapprove health insurance rate increases, just as s/he currently does for car and homeowner insurance. You might hear a lot of chatter about this one because there seems to be some bureaucratic turf issues– ignore the noise. How much complaining have you heard in the last quarter of a century since the insurance commissioner was given rate-control power over car and homeowner insurance? Much less than before, which is why this is a good idea. Of course you’ll also hear opposition from those who want to return to late-19th century robber-baron capitalism, but those people should be ignored just like anyone who proposes reestablishing the Soviet Union would be. Vote “Yes” on this item.

Proposition 46 is a rare combination of cynicism and good policy with a good result. The real reason it’s on the ballot is to raise the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages that can be received from medical negligence suits. But, if that was all that had been proposed, forces opposed to the idea would have attacked it as a money grab by the lawyers and it would have failed. As a result, to make the overall proposition more appealing to voters, a number of new requirements are placed on health practitioners to avoid preventable medical errors. The increase in the cap is only in the amount of inflation since it was first imposed 39 years ago, a very sensible and reasonable thing to do. Also, from now on, the cap would be adjusted annually to reflect the impact of inflation. This is a good idea whose time has come, despite the understandable protests of the medical community. Vote “Yes” on this item.

Proposition 47 requires misdemeanor instead of felony sentences for minor crimes (certain drug possession offenses, petty theft, receiving stolen property, and forging/writing bad checks). But, if the perpetrator has a history of more serious crimes (rape, murder, child molestation, sex offenses), then the crime could be sentenced as a felony. This will save governments money by avoiding needless incarceration and have less damaging impact on the lives of those who commit minor offenses. Vote “Yes” on this item.

Proposition 48 is a toughie. It puts before the voters the question of approving an agreement between the state and some Indian tribes to build a casino. Part of the fuss is over the fact that the casino would NOT be built on Indian reservation land, as the original legislation allowing Indian gaming required, a first. While I support assisting Indian tribes economically to somewhat atone for historical injustices, there is another, greater concern. This ballot measure also allows the casino project to bypass CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). There is no good reason to do this since going through the CEQA process helps prevent community and ecological degradation, and often results in a better project overall. As a result, I find myself thinking “this proposition should fail but be put back on the ballot with its deficiencies rectified.” Vote “No” on this item.

Proposition P is a Los Angeles County measure that effectively just renews Measure A (passed in 1992 and now expiring). It provides funding for parks, new ones and maintenance of old ones. It will cost each property parcel in the county just $23. This is a very inexpensive way to do a lot of good work. Vote “Yes” on this item.

Please remember to vote. If you are registered as a permanent absentee voter, by now you’ve already received your ballot— just fill it out and send it in. If not, you will get a sample ballot book on the back of which is a request for an absentee ballot, fill out that form and mail it IMMEDIATELY, and you, too, will be able to vote from the comfort of home. Remember, cliché though it may sound, our vote is our voice. If you care about yourself and the interests of the Armenian community, you should make sure not to miss this opportunity to strengthen our political presence by participating in the November election.

Heck, if you don’t agree with my recommendations, can’t decide on for whom to vote, or just plain despise all the candidates and ballot measures, mail in or turn in a blank ballot. At least you will be recorded as having voted!

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