League of Women Voters Provides Non-Partisan Ballot Measure Info – Part 2 of 2

On Thursday, October 25, the Ebell of Los Angeles hosted a talk by Mona Field, Vice President of the Los Angeles League of Women Voters, which provided helpful information about the lengthy list of statewide propositions that will be on our local ballots for next Tuesday’s election.  This is part two of a two-part series on the propositions (you can find part one here), with information and tips from both Field and votersedge.org, a non-partisan voter information website Field recommended at her talk.  

Proposition 7

This is one of two measures on the ballot (the other is Prop 10, below), which don’t actually put any new regulations into place, but simply open the door for new rules to be made, if certain governmental bodies decide to do so.  In the case of Proposition 7, which was put on the ballot by state legislators, passage would allow state lawmakers to vote on making a change to permanent Daylight Saving Time, if the federal government ever voted to allow such a law. (That would not be legal under current California law if Proposition 7 does not pass.)  According to Los Angeles League of Women Voters Vice President Mona Field, at the October 25 voter information event at the Ebell of Los Angeles, year-round DST was briefly enacted twice before – once during World War II, and once during the gas shortages of the 1970s – but Arizona is currently the only state that still has it. Again, though, actually making the change to year-round DST would be up to Congress (which has not yet taken up the issue), and Prop 7 would just make a potential change legal under California state law.  Supporters say a change to permanent DST would have positive health and safety effects…while opponents say having different states on different time schedules would be confusing, and morning commutes would be darker in the winter, which would have negative effects on schools, businesses, etc.

Supporters: The California Democratic, Republican, Green Parties, and the Los Angeles Times.
Opponents: Several other major newspapers, such as the Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle.
League of Women Voters Recommends:  No formal position.

Proposition 8

Proposition 8 deals with a rather complex, and very specific, health care issue – privately-owned kidney dialysis centers, on which many people with kidney disease depend for their lives.  According to Field, in her Ebell presentation,70% of dialysis centers are privately owned, and the question here is whether those private dialysis centers should provide rebates to health insurance companies if their profits exceed a certain level.  Field noted that the measure was placed on the ballot by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents health care workers and wants to pressure dialysis clinics to provide better working conditions. According to votersedge.org, “dialysis treatment is paid for by Medicare, Medi-Cal and private insurance. Private insurance companies usually pay clinics much more for dialysis treatment than Medicare and Medi-Cal.” But under Prop 8, private “clinics would [only] be allowed to charge for the cost of providing “direct patient care” and “quality improvements,” plus an additional 15 percent.”  They would also have to provide refunds to insurance companies if they overcharge for their services, and would not be able to treat patients differently based on the kind of insurance they have. Supporters say Prop 8 will prevent clinics from overcharging patients and insurance companies for the care they provide, and will help control overall health care costs.  But the clinics themselves argue that the new billing limits and refunds would prove so onerous, many dialysis clinics would be forced to close and their patients would overwhelm hospital emergency rooms with dialysis needs or the need for other emergency services if patients don’t get their dialysis elsewhere.

Supporters: California Democratic Party, and a long list of more than 100 medical, patients’ rights, emergency responders, labor, union, and immigrants’ rights groups.
Opponents: California Republican Party, and more than 200 medical industry, insurance and anti-tax groups, as well as a number local Democratic Party organizations, other union and labor groups, and the Green Party of California.
League of Women Voters Recommends: No formal position.

Proposition 9

Proposition 9 – which was placed on the ballot through the efforts of billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, and proposed splitting the current state of California into three new, separate states – will not appear on the ballot in tomorrow’s election, even though it did clear all the required hurdles for inclusion.  In what Field called an “unprecented” move, the California Supreme Court stepped in and removed Prop 9 from the ballot, ruling that it is simply not up to state voters to decide this kind of question.

Proposition 10 

Like Prop 7, Proposition 10 – which deals with rent control laws – does not put any new laws on the books.  Instead, it repeals the statewide Costa-Hawkins law, which caps or prohibits rent controls on certain kinds of properties (like those built after 1978).  Passing Prop 10 would put full control over rent control rules back in the hands of local city governments, which could then enact (or not) new rent control ordinances, with whatever kinds of limits they choose.  Prop 10 was placed on the ballot by a large coalition of tenant and labor groups, with major funding from Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Health Care Foundation. Supporters say current housing prices are jeopardizing housing security for many California residents, and cities need to be able to enact stricter rent controls (e.g. on newer as well as older properties) to help control spiraling housing costs. But opponents say if cities are allowed to enact tighter rent controls, property owners might simply choose to remove much-needed rental units from the market (possibly by turning them into condominiums), thus reducing the number of available units and making rental housing even more scarce and unaffordable.  Again, though, any of those more specific laws would be up to local city governments if Prop 10 passes; the proposition itself would only allow cities to make new rent control laws at the local level, with specifics varying from city to city.

Supporters: The American Civil Liberties Union, California Democratic Party, hundreds of housing, tenant, labor, justice and civil liberties groups, a long list of cities (including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, San Francisco and Oakland), and many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.
Opponents: More than 100 Chambers of Commerce, real estate, property owners’ and taxpayers’ groups, as well as other newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Orange County Register.
League of Women Voters Recommends:  YES

Proposition 11

Proposition 11 would bring rules for employees of private ambulance paramedic companies into alignment with those for public first responder organizations (like LAFD), and require that employees on breaks still be required to respond to emergency calls. (If employees do miss a break, another equivalent break would be provided later.)  According to Field, another recent state law allowed private companies to make employee breaks “sacred” and inviolable, so another new law (like this one) is required to change that.  Supporters say the measure would improve public safety. No official opposition statement has been provided, but there are, as listed below, several prominent opponents.

Supporters: More than 100 medical organizations, ambulance and emergency response companies, chambers of commerce, taxpayer groups and the Los Angeles Times.
Opponents:  The California Democratic Party, the Green and Libertarian Parties, SEIU and several other major labor organizations.
League of Women Voters Recommends: No formal position.

Proposition 12

According to Field, the details of and support/opposition for Prop 12, which proposes specific rules for the confinement of certain farm animals, have resulted in a bit of “a food fight among the animal rights groups.”  The measure was placed on the ballot by one of those groups – the Humane Society. According to votersedge.org, the rule today is that pregnant pigs, egg-laying hens and veal cows must be kept in certain kinds of cages that allow the animals to “lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their legs.”  But Prop 12 would create even more specific rules for the size of cages and crates, and would make it illegal to sell meat or eggs from animals kept in cages or crates that do not meet the rules. Field noted that many animal rights groups support the measure, saying it would create more humane conditions for animals and keep them healthier as well. But at least one other major animal rights group (PETA) says the new cage/crate-size regulations are either not generous enough, or could, in some cases, actually be more restrictive than what some farms are already using.  According to votersedge.org, the measure would be likely to increase the cost of eggs, pork and veal, and would cost the state about $10 million per year to enforce.

Supporters: The California Democratic Party, the Green Party of California, a long list of animal hospitals and animal rights groups, the Gentle Barn, the Humane Society of the United States and the Los Angeles Times.
Opponents: The California Republican Party, Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
League of Women Voters Recommends:  No formal position.

So that’s it for the state-level ballot propositions.  Field noted at the end of her talk on October 25 that California has had ballot propositions since 1911 (it one of the first states to use them widely), but the way ballot propositions are used has changed greatly over the decades.  Today, Field said, proposition drives are most often used by special interest groups that would like to force legislators to act on specific issues, by threatening to go to the voters with a ballot proposition if their issues aren’t addressed through a satisfactory legislative solution.  So the ballot landscape has become a bit like the “Wild West” these days, Field said, and voters are being asked to weigh in on all sorts of issues on which they have no specific expertise (e.g. kidney dialysis, paramedics’ coffee breaks, the use of bond funding, etc.)

But weigh in we must…so please do some homework on this year’s crop of propositions, and please vote tomorrow!

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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