An Early Look at November’s 12 Propositions! (WOT)


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Vern: “Get it, proposition?”  Greg: “That’s a proposal, boss.”  Vern: “Whatever, never mind…”

Couple weeks ago, California’s Secretery of State released this Fall’s ballot initiatives with their numbers, while inviting folks to write arguments for and against.  Here at the OJ, we figure it’s never to early to start considering and discussing what we-all think about these measures.  There are kind of a lot – twelve – but on the other hand twelve’s a nice even number, and best of all they’re actually NUMBERED 1-12.  Let’s check them out – this is Vern – I’ll give my first impressions of some of them and invite Greg, Ryan, and anyone else on our team to weigh in (I’ll shoehorn it into the story) or any of our readers in the comments section;  meanwhile let’s also make this our Weekend Open Thread!

Proposition 1, Veterans & Affordable Housing Bond Act

SB 3 (Chapter 365, Statutes of 2017), Beall. Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018. (PDF).

Under existing law, there are programs providing assistance for, among other things, emergency housing, multifamily housing, farmworker housing, home ownership for very low and low-income households, and downpayment assistance for first-time home buyers. Existing law also authorizes the issuance of bonds in specified amounts pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law and requires that proceeds from the sale of these bonds be used to finance various existing housing programs, capital outlay related to infill development, brownfield cleanup that promotes infill development, and housing-related parks. Existing law, the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008, authorized, for purposes of financing a specified program for farm, home, and mobilehome purchase assistance for veterans, the issuance, pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law, of bonds in the amount of $900,000,000.

This bill would enact the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, which, if adopted, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $4,000,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law. Of the proceeds from the sale of these bonds, $3,000,000,000 would be used to finance various existing housing programs, as well as infill infrastructure financing and affordable housing matching grant programs, as provided, and $1,000,000,000 would be used to provide additional funding for the above-described program for farm, home, and mobilehome purchase assistance for veterans, as provided.

This bill would provide for submission of the bond act to the voters at the November 6, 2018, statewide general election in accordance with specified law. This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

  • Vern: Well, this is what we’ve been fighting for, isn’t it, all us “homeless advocates” who have pretty much all come to the agreement that “Housing First” (i.e. before treatment, jobs, etc.) is the best way forward, and that “Housing is a Human Right?”  Then we citizens have to pay for it.  Think of it as replacing what you already hand out to the homeless you see, plus getting rid of most of the negative effects of homelessness.  This I assume will compliment AB 488’s “Housing Trust Fund” JPA – let’s get these people housed!
  • Greg: “Tax-free municipal bonds” seems to be the theme of these first measures.  Investors need safe harbors for their money — and municipal bonds are also a tax shelter.  So there’s a drive to get as many bonds out there as possible driven not so much for the good that they will do but by the benefits to well-off investors.  It’s not the best way to fund things — but frankly, that’s the fault of our policies requiring a 2/3 vote for other means of raising funds for even worthwhile products.  I think that this is a poor social policy, but we’ve screwed ourselves up so massively with these legal constraints that sucking up to the wealthy and placing burdens on future generations for worthwhile projects today is the only way to get those projects done.  This looks like a worthwhile project, but I’m only leaning towards it at this point.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 2, No Place Like Home Act

AB 1827 (Chapter 41, Statutes of 2018), Committee on Budget. No Place Like Home Act of 2018. (PDF).

(1) The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), an initiative measure enacted by the voters as Proposition 63 at the November 2, 2004, statewide general election, imposes a 1% tax on that portion of a taxpayer’s taxable income that exceeds $1,000,000 and requires that the revenue from that tax be deposited in the Mental Health Services Fund to fund various county mental health programs.

Existing law, known as the No Place Like Home Program, requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to award $2,000,000,000 among counties to finance capital costs, including, but not limited to, acquisition, design, construction, rehabilitation, or preservation, and to capitalize operating reserves, of permanent supportive housing for the target population, as specified. Existing law establishes the No Place Like Home Fund, requires specified moneys to be deposited in the fund, and continuously appropriates moneys in the fund for these purposes. Existing law authorizes the California Health Facilities Financing Authority and the department to enter into service contracts pursuant to the program related to permanent supportive housing, and further authorizes the authority to issue taxable or tax-exempt revenue bonds in an amount not to exceed $2,000,000,000 and to make secured or unsecured loans to the department in connection with financing permanent supportive housing pursuant to the department. Existing law establishes and continuously appropriates the Supportive Housing Program Subaccount in the Mental Health Services Fund and requires the Controller to transfer from that fund to the subaccount an amount necessary to cover the costs the authority is required to pay to the department pursuant to a service contract with the department, as provided.

This bill would enact the No Place Like Home Act of 2018 and provide for submission of that act to the voters at the November 6, 2018, statewide general election. The bill would specify that the service contracts between the authority and the department may be single-year or multiyear contracts and provide for payments to the department from amounts on deposit in the Supportive Housing Program Subaccount. The bill would include any appropriation or transfer to the No Place Like Home Fund from the General Fund or other funds as moneys required to be paid into the No Place Like Home Fund. The bill would declare that the voters ratify as being consistent with and in furtherance of the MHSA, and approve for purposes of specified provisions of the California Constitution relating to debt, specified statutes related to the No Place Like Home Program and related financial provisions. The bill would also authorize the Legislature to appropriate for transfer moneys in the Mental Health Services Fund to the Supportive Housing Program Subaccount, subject to specified conditions, and continuously appropriate those moneys for further transfer to the No Place Like Home Fund to be used for purposes of the No Place Like Home Program. The bill would provide that any amount appropriated and deposited in the No Place Like Home Fund pursuant to these provisions would reduce the amount of authorized but unissued bonds that the California Health Facilities Financing Authority may issue, as described above, by a corresponding amount. The bill would authorize the Legislature to amend the No Place Like Home Act of 2018 by a 2/3 vote, so long as the amendment is consistent with and furthers the intent of the act.

(2) Existing law contains provisions related to elections and voting, including a requirement that a measure submitted to the people by the Legislature appear on the ballot of the first statewide election occurring at least 131 days after the adoption of the proposal by the Legislature and that the Secretary of State mail state voter information guides to voters.

This bill would require the Secretary of State, notwithstanding specified provisions of existing law relating to elections and voting, to submit the No Place Like Home Act of 2018 to the voters for their approval at the November 6, 2018, statewide general election.

(3) This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

  • Vern: So this is that hidden-away mental health money that Moorlach has been talking about, and along with Prop 1 and AB 448 will really get us the housing we need.  And this one isn’t even any new taxes, so no-brainer.  Let’s get those chipmunked funds!
  • Greg: This is more responsible than Prop 1.  I like that an existing income tax surcharge funds whatever bonds will be floated.  The notion that this fund has been sitting there unspent is bizarre, but if this will fix it without adding to overall bond indenture than it seems fine.  I’ll support this with some reservations regarding whether we’re being given the whole story here; so I’ll certainly look at the opposing arguments when they come out prior to voting. 
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 3, Water Bonds

AUTHORIZES BONDS TO FUND PROJECTS FOR WATER SUPPLY AND QUALITY, WATERSHED, FISH, WILDLIFE, WATER CONVEYANCE, AND GROUNDWATER SUSTAINABILITY AND STORAGE. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Authorizes $8.877 billion in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects: $3.03 billion for safe drinking water and water quality, $2.895 billion for watershed and fisheries improvements, $940 million for habitat protection, $855 million for improved water conveyance, $685 million for groundwater sustainability/storage, and $472 million for surface water storage/dam repairs. Appropriates money from General Fund to pay off bonds. Requires certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources; gives priority to disadvantaged communities. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State costs of $17.3 billion to pay off principal ($8.9 billion) and interest ($8.4 billion) on bonds over a 40-year period. Annual payments would average $433 million. Annual payments would be lower than this average in the initial and final few years, and somewhat higher in the intervening years. Varying fiscal effects on individual local governments depending on specific projects undertaken, amount of grants and loans received, and amount of local cost-share required. (17-0010.).

  • Vern:  I don’t know, sounds worthy but don’t like bonds.  Will wait to hear more arguments.  It better not fund Poseidon.
  • Greg: I tend to agree with Vern (especially about the Poseidon angle, which would lead me to vote “no.”  Those bastards get nada.  If it could be used for that purpose, toss this one back and try again in 2020.)  I don’t like that we cushion ourselves in the initial years; it’s just stealing from future taxpayers and the payments should be even.  Due to the worthy goal, I’m leaning yes, but only tentatively, and will look to see how cogent the opposition is.
    UPDATE! I just heard from the state Democratic Party meeting that environmental grounds are VERY opposed to this bond.  The one place where I often disagree with them regarding water policy involves dams — which do do some damage, but less damage, in my opinion, than drought does.  So if that’s the sole basis for the objection, I’d disregard it.  I’m guessing that it isn’t, though, so for now I’ll lean no.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 4, Children’s Hospitals Bond

AUTHORIZES BONDS FUNDING CONSTRUCTION AT HOSPITALS PROVIDING CHILDREN’S HEALTH CARE. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds, to be repaid from state’s General Fund, to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of qualifying children’s hospitals. Designates 72 percent of funds to qualifying private nonprofit hospitals providing comprehensive services to high volumes of children eligible for governmental programs and children with special health needs eligible for the California Children’s Services program, 18 percent of funds to University of California general acute care children’s hospitals, and 10 percent of funds to public and private nonprofit hospitals providing services to children eligible for the California Children’s Services program. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State costs of $2.9 billion to pay off principal ($1.5 billion) and interest ($1.4 billion) on bonds over a 35-year period. Annual payments would average $84 million. Annual payments would be lower than this average in the initial and final few years, and somewhat higher in the intervening years. (17-0045.).

  • Vern:  I don’t know, sounds worthy but don’t like bonds.  Will wait to hear more arguments.
  • Greg: At some point I get to the point where I say “just fucking raise taxes already rather than paying twice as much by using bonds — and screw servicing investors who want a tax-free place to park their money!” — but then raising taxes really isn’t an option, is it?
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 5, Property Tax Replacement

CHANGES REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN PROPERTY OWNERS TO TRANSFER THEIR PROPERTY TAX BASE TO REPLACEMENT PROPERTY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Removes the following current requirements for homeowners who are over 55 years old or severely disabled to transfer their property tax base to a replacement residence: that replacement property be of equal or lesser value, replacement residence be in specific county, and the transfer occur only once. Removes similar replacement-value and location requirements on transfers for contaminated or disaster-destroyed property. Requires adjustments to the replacement property’s tax base, based on the new property’s value. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Annual property tax losses for cities, counties, and special districts of around $150 million in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars). Annual property tax losses for schools of around $150 million per year in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars). Increase in state costs for schools of an equivalent amount in most years. (17-0013.).

  • Vern:  Really, need more info on what the current problem is, and if it’s worth the revenue loss.
  • Greg: I’m leaning “yes.”  The perverse incentive of requiring people to continue buying as or more expensive houses, even when the kids are likely gone, in order to maintain tax benefits just doesn’t make sense.  Yes, we’d have to make up the gap in funding schools, and we should.  Of course, we might not do it — and that’s the only reason I would not rule out voting “no.”
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 6, Repeal Gas Tax

ELIMINATES RECENTLY ENACTED ROAD REPAIR AND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING BY REPEALING REVENUES DEDICATED FOR THOSE PURPOSES. REQUIRES ANY MEASURE TO ENACT CERTAIN VEHICLE FUEL TAXES AND VEHICLE FEES BE SUBMITTED TO AND APPROVED BY THE ELECTORATE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s tax and fee provisions that pay for repairs and improvements to local roads, state highways, and public transportation. Requires the Legislature to submit any measure enacting specified taxes or fees on gas or diesel fuel, or on the privilege to operate a vehicle on public highways, to the electorate for approval. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced annual state transportation tax revenues of $2.9 billion in 2018-19, increasing to $4.9 billion annually by 2020-21. These revenues would primarily have supported state highway maintenance and rehabilitation, local streets and roads, and mass transit. In addition, potentially lower transportation tax revenues in the future from requiring voter approval of such tax increases, with the impact dependent on future actions by the Legislature and voters. (17-0033.).

  • Vern:  Aside from whatever merits, this measure is in large part a way to get Republicans to the polls.  But this regressive gas/car tax is also very unpopular among a lot of Democrats and independents, so I’m not sure we Democrats should wed ourselves too closely to it.  We’ve already lost our best Senator, and the Senate supermajority, over it.  Is there not another, less regressive, way to pay for these transportation improvements?
  • Greg: Fine, and let’s just close down the freeways and bridges altogether before their disrepair kills people.  I wonder whether  combining the requirement of a statewide vote on new taxes or fees with a repeal of new last year’s increase leaves this vulnerable to legal challenge on “single issue” grounds.  Oh well — there’s always funding such repairs and freeway fixes using bonds, right?
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 7, Screw Daylight Savings Time

AB 807 (Chapter 60, Statutes of 2018), Chu. Daylight saving time. .

Existing federal law establishes the standard time of the United States for each of 9 zones and advances the standard time of each zone by one hour during the period commencing at 2 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday of March of each year and ending at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November of each year. Existing state law, the Daylight Saving Time Act, which was adopted as an initiative measure by the voters at the November 8, 1949, special election, provides that the standard time within the state is that which is known, described, and designated by federal law as United States Standard Pacific Time. The act also requires, from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday of April, until 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October, the standard time within the state to be one hour in advance of United States Standard Pacific Time.

This bill would repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act and would require the standard time within the state to be that of the 5th zone designated by federal law as Pacific standard time. The bill would require the advancement of this time by one hour during the daylight saving time period commencing at 2 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday of March of each year and ending at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November of each year, and would authorize the Legislature to amend these provisions by a 2/3 vote to change the dates and times of the daylight saving time period, consistent with federal law. The bill would also authorize the Legislature to amend these provisions by a 2/3 vote to provide for the application of year-round daylight saving time when authorized by federal law.

The California Constitution authorizes the Legislature to amend or repeal an initiative statute by another statute that becomes effective when approved by the electors.

This bill would provide that it would become effective only upon approval of the voters. It would also provide for submission of this measure to the voters for approval at the next statewide general election.

  • Vern:   Why not, sounds like fun.  The cavemen didn’t have Daylight Savings Time, neither did George Washington.
  • Greg: This assures that, absent a legislative change, we will always be one hour behind Arizona.  I’m OK with that.  It also means that we will be one hour behind Nevada, Oregon, and Washington during the summer, and I’m less crazy about that.  (And good luck figuring out when your TV shows begin.) Honestly, I’d rather see this done at the federal level — and get rid of Daylight Saving Time everywhere.  But I don’t feel strongly about it.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 8, Kidney Dialysis Regulation

AUTHORIZES STATE REGULATION OF KIDNEY DIALYSIS CLINICS. LIMITS CHARGES FOR PATIENT CARE. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Limits amounts outpatient kidney dialysis clinics may charge for patient care and imposes penalties for excessive charges. Requires annual reporting to the state regarding clinic costs, patient charges, and revenue. Prohibits clinics from discriminating against patients based on the source of payment for care. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State administrative costs of around $1 million annually to be covered by increases in license fees on chronic dialysis clinics. State and local government savings largely associated with reduced government employee and retiree health benefits spending on dialysis treatment, potentially up to tens of millions of dollars annually. (17-0014.).

  • Vern: Sounds good.
  • Greg: I’ve heard that good arguments against this exist — as well as one that it’s unconstitutional to cap profits, which I doubt — but I haven’t heard what they are.  The underlying indictment of practices in the dialysis industry seem legitimate.  If they don’t like their new regulations, then the state should just enter this business and wave goodby at them; this is exactly the sort of area where demand is stable and rising, competition is limited, and the state, working with the relevant unions, would be well able to provide these essential services.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 9, Divide California in 3REMOVED!

DIVISION OF CALIFORNIA INTO THREE STATES. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Divides California into three states subject to approval by Congress. Assigns each county to a new state. Upon passage, directs Governor to request that Congress grant approval within twelve months. If Congress approves, directs Legislature to divide California’s assets and liabilities between the new states. Provides that, if Legislature fails to act within twelve months of Congressional approval, debts shall be distributed among new states based on population relative to California population as a whole, and assets within boundaries of each new state shall become the assets of that new state. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Assuming this measure is approved by voters and the federal government and allowed by the courts, all tax collections and spending by the existing State of California would end. California’s existing state assets and liabilities would be divided among three new states. These states would make their own decisions about state and local taxes and spending. (17-0018.).

  • Vern:  Tired of hearing so much about this stupid idea.  I call for an embargo on news or commentary about this non-starter.
  • Greg: Three?  How about thirty-one, you piker!  How about three hundred and thirty-one, so we can dominate the Senate?

Proposition 10, Rent Control!

EXPANDS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS’ AUTHORITY TO ENACT RENT CONTROL ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose. Allows policies that would limit the rental rates that residential-property owners may charge for new tenants, new construction, and single-family homes. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their rental property. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Unknown, but potentially significant, changes in state and local government tax revenues. Net decrease more likely than net increase. Potential increase in local government costs of up to tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term, likely paid by fees on owners of rental housing. (17-0041.).

  • Vern:  Yes!  Rent control’s time has come!  And vote for Duane Roberts, District 2!
  • Greg: Having lived in New York for some years, I know that rent control (and especially the phase-in of rent control) has its downsides — especially because what it does is create a division between favored long-timers and disfavored newcomers.  (Guess which social strata tend to be which.)  But this measure doesn’t impose rent control; it simply allows localities to do so.  That seems hard to argue with.  If a locality makes a policy mistake by imposing rent control, it mostly aids neighboring localities.  If you can’t imagine any circumstance in which a sane locality might want to do this, then I don’t think you’re trying very hard.  So: yes.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 11, Ambulance Workers’ Breaks.

REQUIRES PRIVATE-SECTOR EMERGENCY AMBULANCE EMPLOYEES TO REMAIN ON CALL DURING WORK BREAKS. CHANGES OTHER CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Makes the labor law that entitles hourly employees to take work (meal and rest) breaks without being on call inapplicable to private-sector emergency ambulance employees. Regulates timing of meal breaks for these employees. Exempts employers from potential liability for violations of existing law regarding work breaks. Requires employers to pay for employees to be trained regarding certain emergency incidents, violence prevention, and mental health and wellness. Requires employers to provide employees with certain mental-health services. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Local government net savings likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually due to lower emergency ambulance contract costs. (17-0043.).

  • Vern:   Sounds good.  I mean seriously, if there’s a fucking emergency, aren’t most of ’em gonna cut their breaks short anyway, and make up for it later?  I sure would.
  • Greg: I find it hard to believe that some other provision of law would not prevent an ambulance employee from cutting a break short.  If this is a concern, they can hire another ambulance employee and do a better job of staggering breaks.  The question for me is whether good done by other aspects of this bill outweigh the relatively small infringement on labor rights.  I’m leaning against.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

Proposition 12, Kindness to Farm Animals.

ESTABLISHES NEW STANDARDS FOR CONFINEMENT OF CERTAIN FARM ANIMALS; BANS SALE OF CERTAIN NON-COMPLYING PRODUCTS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Establishes new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens; requires egg-laying hens be raised in cage-free environment after December 31, 2021. Prohibits certain commercial sales of specified meat and egg products from animals confined in non-complying manner. Defines sales violations as unfair competition. Creates good faith defense for sellers relying upon written certification by suppliers that meat or animal products comply with new confinement standards. Requires State of California to issue implementing regulations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potential decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not to exceed the low millions of dollars annually. Potential state costs ranging up to ten million dollars annually to enforce the measure. (17-0026.).

  • Vern:   Yes!  Just look at those happy chickens dancing!
  • Greg: I don’t think that this reduction in suffering by sentient beings is beyond our means.  If it hurts factory farms a bit — well, we could use more non-factory farms.
  • Ryan: 
  • Anyone else?

NOW.  Discourse on all this, or whatever you like.  GO!!!


About Admin

"Admin" is just editor Vern Nelson or associate editor Greg Diamond sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.