DUHC Positions on June 8, 2010 Ballot Initiatives

If a proposition or measure not mentioned it means that we did not take a position. Democracy Unlimited does not endorse candidates. For additional information about measures or candidates see: Smart Voter - maintained by the League of Women Voters.

Proposition 13 – Tax Exemption for Seismic Upgrades – NO POSITION

This measure will make earthquake safety upgrades to unreinforced masonry buildings exempt from property tax reassessment until property is sold. This is a relatively small change to the state constitution with supporters from across the political spectrum and no organized opposition campaign.

The downside of passing this measure is that major property owners who can afford to pay will receive tax breaks that they don’t need or deserve. On the other hand, this measure may provide the incentive landlords need to make safety improvements to neglected buildings, which could end up saving the lives of tenants.

Proposition 14 – Corporate Attack on Voter Choice – NO

This measure will set up an “Open Primary” system in which political parties are essentially removed from primary elections and all candidates run on one ballot. The top two vote getters will then advance to the general election, regardless of their party registration. This will open the door for situations in which two members of the same party are the only candidates on the ballot in a general election.

Reducing the power of major political parties is an appealing idea to many voters, but the proponents of this measure are peddling a brand of faux populism that will actually increase the influence of corporate money within the two party system. Proposition 14 will reduce voter choice by favoring the wealthiest candidates, marginalizing grassroots activists within the major parties, and shutting third party candidates out of general elections.

It should come as no surprise that this measure is backed by reactionary business interests like the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Health Underwriters. Proposition 14 will reduce the likelihood that candidates who champion progressive causes – like single payer healthcare, workers rights, and environmental protection – will be elected, or even make it to the general election.

Proposition 15 – California Fair Elections Act – YES

As long as corporations can buy elections and lobby elected officials, we won’t have genuine democracy. Public financing of campaigns is one of the many steps between where we are now and where we need to go if we want a truly representative system. In the big picture, passage of Proposition 15 will constitute a fraction of a step in the right direction, but it’s a fraction of a step that we desperately need to take.

This measure will set up a pilot public financing system for the California Secretary of State’s race. In order to qualify for public financing, a candidate would need to agree to spending limits and collect 7,500 signatures and $5 contributions from California voters. The system will be funded by increasing annual registration fees on
lobbyists from $12.50 to $350.

Perhaps most importantly, Proposition 15 will repeal California’s ban on public financing of campaigns so that the system can be expanded by the legislature without having to go back to the ballot. Local governments will also be free to set up their own public financing programs.

Proposition 16 – PG&E’s Monopoly Protection Initiative – NO

This is quite literally a power grab, funded by Pacific Gas & Electric for the purpose of protecting its near monopoly from public sector competition. Proposition 16 would reduce the power of local governments by requiring a 2/3 supermajority vote of the public before cities and counties can decide to provide energy directly to their own

This is a direct attack on communities that are currently in the process of pursuing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a system in which local governments aggregate the buying power of customers in order to invest in renewable energy. Frustrated that its greenwashing campaign hasn’t convinced environmental advocates and local government officials, PG&E is going on the offensive against communities that would rather chart their own course than keep using dirty corporate energy.

Not only that, PG&E is fearful that more people will find out that not-for-profit utilities offer lower rates, better service, and more local control. Every community that breaks PG&E’s stranglehold serves as yet another example that we don’t need big business to meet the people’s needs. They know that, which is why they put Proposition 16 on the ballot.

Proposition 17 – Auto Insurance Industry Scam – NO

Mercury Insurance Group is the primary sponsor of this measure, which it has funded to the tune of $10 million. If passed, Proposition 17 would gut landmark consumer protections in Proposition 103, giving auto insurance companies the ability to raise rates on consumers that haven’t maintained continuous coverage – even if they’re good drivers that simply don’t want or need a car for a while.

This would penalize workers who lose their jobs and need to stop driving for a while to save money, seniors and others who stop driving temporarily because of medical issues, students who are away at college and have no use for a car, people who choose to give up their cars in favor of more sustainable transportation methods but have to
go back to driving later, and anyone buying auto insurance for the first time.

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