Yes on Proposition 5: Changes in correctional policies
The Legislative Analyst says Proposition 5 would expand drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, modify parole supervision, give inmates incentives for participating in rehabilitation programs, and reduce some penalties for marijuana possession from misdemeanors to infractions.
Ultimately, this measure could reduce the state prison population by more that 18,000 and reduce the number of parolees under supervision by more than 22,000. Supporters include the League of Women Voters, California Democratic Party, California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, California Academy of Family Physicians, and the Consumer Federation of California. The major donor in support is George Soros. Opponents include the California Narcotics Officers Association and National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
We support well-crafted efforts to improve drug treatment options, decriminalize drug use and reduce our prison population. We recommend a yes vote on Proposition 5.
No on Proposition 6: Tougher criminal penalties
This initiative, proposed by Republican state Sen. George Runner, is a tough-on-crime approach which increases a long list of criminal penalties, establishes new crimes, and requires new state spending on various programs to combat crime and operate our prison and parole systems.
Its ideas are a sharp contrast to Proposition 5. Proposition 6 is supported by a broad range of law enforcement groups and opposed by the League of Women Voters, California Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association, among others. While some of its many elements may be useful, it seems to us that locking such a broad range of criminal penalties into state law with resulting massive costs is not an appropriate use of the initiative process. We recommend a no vote on Proposition 6.
No on Proposition 7: Renewable Energy
This initiative requires all utilities, including government-owned utilities, to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2010, 40 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025. It imposes penalties for noncompliance, fast-tracks approval for renewable energy plants, requires utilities to sign longer contracts (20 year minimum) to procure renewable energy, and creates an account to purchase property or rights of way for renewable energy. Revenues and costs to state and local governments are largely unknown.
The measure dramatically steps up the state's conversion from fossil fuels to renewable resources; for this reason we like the goal of Proposition 7 and are tempted to support it because we believe that climate change is serious, oil is peaking, and our prosperity will continue to suffer until we wean ourselves from fossil fuels.
However, major environmental groups oppose this measure, including the League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council. So do renewable energy producers such as California Solar Energy Industries Association, California Wind Energy Association, Large-Scale Solar Association and Independent Energy Producers Association. They all argue that Proposition 7, because of its flawed drafting, will set back the cause of renewable energy rather than advance it. Other opponents include the Union of Concerned Scientists, the League of Women Voters and the California Labor Federation.
This is a complicated ballot initiative that runs some 40 pages and is funded by one wealthy individual, Peter Sperling ($5.5 million in contributions and counting). And it requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to change it. This is not the way to go; we recommend a no vote on Proposition 7.
No on Proposition 8: Limit on marriage
This measure amends the California Constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It would reverse the California Supreme Court ruling earlier this year and limit marriage to include only individuals of the opposite sex.
We see this is as an equal rights issue. We believe that all California citizens, regardless of sexual preference, should be treated equally, and entitled to the same rights and status. Further, we continue to be amazed at how some heterosexuals feel so threatened by their gay or lesbian fellow citizens who wish to make a lasting commitment to each other in the form of marriage.
We believe that society as a whole benefits when more individuals, of whatever sexual preference, commit to love and support each other. We recommend a no vote on Proposition 8.