By Daniel Larios
September 23, 2014 – While Santa Monica voters are focusing on hotly contested local measures that will determine the future of the airport and affordable housing, six statewide initiatives will also be on the ballot in the November 4 General Election.
Ranging from healthcare to criminal law to gambling, Santa Monica voters will have a chance to weigh in on a number of issues that, if approved, could impact the State for years to come.
In the midst of one of the worst droughts in California history, voters will decide the fate of Prop. 1, known as “the water bond.” If approved, the measure would authorize $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds to be used for state water supply infrastructure projects.
Such projects would include improvements to the state’s public water system, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling, better water treatment technology, drought relief and emergency water supplies.
Specific spending proposals include $2.7 billion for water storage, dams and reservoirs; $1.495 billion for ecosystem, watershed protection and restoration projects; and $900 million to clean up contaminated groundwater.
Supporters of the proposition include Governor Edmund “Jerry Brown, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the California Chamber of Commerce, the League of California Cities and Association of California Water Agencies. Proponents say the measure will create jobs and “secure California’s water future.”
Opponents include the Southern California Watershed Alliance, Friends of the River and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. They argue the measure is fiscally irresponsible and “sabotages efforts to resolve California’s water crisis.”
As of Monday, supporters had raised $909,600 for the campaign, while opponents had raised $37,500, according to campaign finance documents.
Prop. 2, the Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund Act, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that requires lawmakers to set aside 1.5 percent of General Fund revenues each year for the state’s budget stabilization fund until the fund reaches a full 10 percent of general fund spending.
The amendment would also require that half of the account revenues be used to repay state debts and unfunded liabilities and personal capital gains tax money exceeding 8 percent of the general fund be transferred to the rainy day account and, under certain conditions, a K–14 school reserve fund.
The only time the money in the fund could be used would be during a state of fiscal emergency.
Supporters of Prop. 2 include the California Democratic Party and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents include former Green party candidate for Secretary of State Ellen Brown and Oakland-based parents group “Educate Our State.”
“The Public Notice Required for Insurance Company Rates Initiative,” or Prop 45, would give the State insurance commissioner the power to stop excessive health-insurance rate increases.
Prop. 45 would not apply to employer large group health plans and “prohibits health, auto, and homeowners insurers from determining policy eligibility or rates based on lack of prior coverage or credit history,” according to the measure’s official summary.
Leading the push for Prop. 45 are California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Santa Monica advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, who contend the measure would fulfill the goals of the Affordable Care Act.
A number of health insurers led by Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente have come out against Prop. 45, claiming that it will create another unnecessary bureaucracy and undermine the work of Covered California, the state-run insurance exchange established by Obamacare.
Campaign finance reports show that supporters have raised $4.6 million as of September 22, but are being overwhelmed by the $37.5 million raised by opponents.
If passed, Prop. 46, the Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative would increase California's limits on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice lawsuits to $1 million from the current cap of $250,000 and require drug testing of physicians.
Supporters of Proposition 46, which include Senator Boxer and Consumer Watchdog, argue that medical negligence is common, and pain and suffering damage awards are too low.
Opponents – which include the LA County Democratic Party, state Republican Party and various medical groups -- say the initiative isn’t about protecting patients, but increasing medical lawsuit payouts to trial lawyers.
Supporters have $8.4 million in their campaign coffers, but are expected to be far outspent by opponents, who have raised $57 million, according to campaign finance reports.
The only measure that deals with the criminal justice system in California is Prop. 47, the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative.
If passed, the measure would reduce the classification of most nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes from felony to a misdemeanor.
The measure is being supported by the California Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO and The League of Women Voters of California, who together have raised $3.4 million for its passage, according to campaign finance reports.
Opponents include the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs Association and the California District Attorneys Association, who have raised $43,500.
Prop. 48, Referendum on Indian Gaming Compacts, asks voters whether they want to ratify or reject an Indian gaming compact.
If approved, the measure would ratify two gaming compacts between the state and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe.
Supporters, including Governor Brown and the California Democratic Party, have raised $328,658, according to campaign finance reports
Opponents of the measure have raised $4 million to veto the measure.
On the local front, the Church at Ocean Park, located on 235 Hill Street, will be hosting a potluck lunch forum discussing Props 45-47 on October 5.
The discussion will feature presentations on each proposition from Dr. Paul Song (Prop 45), Dr. Sion Roy (Prop 46) and Dr. Bob Gordh (Prop 47). Each presentation will also have a question and answer session.
The event is free and open to the public.