Propositions on the ballot on Nov 6, 2018

Here we go again. Only about 40% of people vote in the midterms, but if you are one of those planning to sit out these elections, I beg you to reconsider.

Here are the propositions on the ballot in California, with a local Palo Alto initiative as well, since I live here.

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Proposition 1: The Housing Programs and Veterans’ Loans Bond
Voting YES supports this measure to authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects for low-income residents, veterans, and farm-workers.
Voting NO opposes this measure.

VOTE YES. Only the government can make a dent in the housing situation in California, since there is no incentive for private agencies to construct low-income or affordable housing. While this proposition does not solve California’s housing woes, it certainly makes a start. It also makes it easy for cities to plan for housing growth better and encourages them to think of their less fortunate citizens.

Proposition 2: The Use Millionaire’s Tax Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Housing Bonds Measure.

Voting YES supports authorizing the state to use revenue from Proposition 63 (2004)—a 1 percent tax on income above $1 million for mental health services—on $2 billion in revenue bonds for homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services.
Voting NO opposes it.

VOTE YES. Anyone who has ever traveled to San Francisco cannot have have avoided encountering the homeless, many of whom are on the streets because of mental illness. This proposition specifically helps those with mental illness. Without stable housing, people with mental illnesses cannot begin to rebuild their lives. It is a win-win for everyone – a humane solution to the issue, and cleaner, safer streets. Also, Prop 63 already collects this money – Prop 2 just helps to allocate it better.

Proposition 3: The California Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond Initiative

Voting YES supports this measure to authorize $8.877 billion in general obligation bonds for water infrastructure, groundwater supplies and storage, surface water storage and dam repairs, watershed and fisheries improvements, and habitat protection and restoration.
Voting NO opposes this measure.

On the face of it, this is a much needed measure that protects existing watersheds, improves the quality of water and dams like Oroville (Oof, remember that scare?) and puts money towards recycling water and purifying contaminated water. It is supported by environmental organizations like Save the Bay and California Wildlife Foundation.

However, Sierra Club opposes it because the Prop was written without a lost of transparency and benefits wealthy farmers in Central Valley who have depleted our water supply irresponsibly and are going to be bailed out by the government.

(It is important to note that there was a water bond in June 2018 also, but that money went to park and wildlife projects, not initiatives that improved water quality and sources of water.)

I took some time to listen to a Forum debate on this. Listen here. After listening to both sides of the argument, I have to agree that there is some pork for powerful Central Valley agribusiness, but there is a lot of money for good projects too. So I am (with some reluctance) VOTING YES. (Mercury News opposes it.)

Proposition 4: the Children’s Hospital Bonds Initiative

Voting YES supports authorizing $1.5 billion in bonds for the construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of children’s hospitals in California.
Voting NO opposes it.

VOTE YES: The $1.5 billion state bond measure would provide grants over a 15-year period for construction, expansion, renovation and equipment for California’s children’s hospitals, which include Palo Alto’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Proposition 5: The Property Tax Transfer Initiative

Voting YES supports amending Proposition 13 (1978) to allow home buyers who are age 55 or older or severely disabled to transfer their tax assessments, with a possible adjustment, from their prior home to their new home, no matter (a) the new home’s market value; (b) the new home’s location in the state; or (c) the buyer’s number of moves.
Voting NO opposes amending Proposition 13.

Sometimes all you need to make up your mind on a proposition is to see who put it on the ballot. In this case it is the California Association of Realtors.

Here is one viewpoint:

California law already allows seniors who sell their homes to transfer their low, Proposition 13 tax base to a new home. That’s been the law for more than 30 years.

There are sensible limits in the existing law. It requires that the new home be of equal or lesser value than the one that was sold, and that the transfer can be taken only once. Those limits help preserve critical public services while also protecting seniors who want to downsize.

Proposition 5 would throw those limits out the window. It would allow the property tax transfer to apply when people 55 and older trade up to a more expensive house — and to take that tax break with them as many times as they wish.

What this essentially means that wealthy home owners (of a certain age) are the ones to benefit. The loss of revenue would severely impact local government agencies and take away money from local services.


Proposition 6: The Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative

This ballot initiative would repeal the gas and diesel tax increases and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017 and require voter approval for fuel tax and vehicle fee increases in the future.

Voting YES supports this initiative to:
repeal fuel tax increases and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017 and
require voter approval (via ballot propositions) for the California State Legislature to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees in the future.
Voting NO opposes this initiative, thus keeping the existing taxes and fees as they are.

VOTE NO: California gas is already expensive because the state mandates a certain level of safety and cleanliness and has environmental protections built around it. The gas tax adds about 18 cents per gallon to that. The question to ask is – are you really worried about those 18 cents? Or would you rather have better roads and some effort towards relieving the congestion we currently have on our arterial highways? I vote for the latter.

Proposition 7: the Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure

Voting YES supports allowing the California State Legislature to establish permanent, year-round daylight saving time (DST) in California by a two-thirds vote if federal law is changed to allow for permanent DST.
Voting NO opposes it.

VOTE YES, YES, YES! This is personal…I hate having jet lag without first going through the experience of being cramped in a tin box for 24 hours.

Proposition 8: the Limits on Dialysis Clinics’ Revenue and Required Refunds Initiative

Voting YES supports requiring dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care and healthcare improvements.
Voting NO opposes it.

Proposition 8 would essentially limit the profits of dialysis clinics which, in California, are run by two big corporations that account for 70% of the clinics. Instinctively, this feels fair, especially since many of these clinics operate at huge mark-ups and don’t always offer high quality procedures, but the Mercury News argues that medical insurance being a complex issue, passing such a blanket measure might cause clinics to close down and that would be a disaster for patients. According to the LA Times:

But even if the revenue cap doesn’t drive clinics out of business, it would give them a perverse incentive to deliver care less efficiently — to raise patient-related spending in order to raise the revenue cap. And despite what supporters claim, there’s no guarantee that forcing clinics to spend more would do anything to make care better or more available.


Proposition 10: the Local Rent Control Initiative

Voting YES supports allowing local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing, thus repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
Voting NO opposes the initiative.

VOTE NO: Economists agree that rent controls usually cause a restriction in the supply of housing. The solution to high rents is to build more housing, period. Here is an article in The Economist that explains it; I’ve used this as the basis for my decision.

Proposition 11: The Ambulance Employees Paid On-Call Breaks, Training, and Mental Health Services Initiative

Voting YES supports:
– allowing ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during breaks paid at their regular rate;
– requiring employers to provide additional training for EMTs and paramedics; and
– requiring employers to provide EMTs and paramedics with some paid mental health services.
Voting NO opposes them.

VOTE YES: It just makes sense. And the reason this is not already a law is because a 2016 Supreme Court decision made the existing law murky.

Proposition 12: the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative

Voting YES supports banning the sale of meat and eggs from calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens confined in areas below a specific number of square feet.
Voting NO opposes it.

VOTE YES: The current conditions in which meat animals are confined is horribly cruel. Let’s fix this.

Palo Alto Measure F

Measure F is designed to regulate healthcare costs.
Voting YES is a vote in favor of limiting healthcare charges for providers in Palo Alto to 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care by requiring healthcare providers to supply rebates or cost reductions to those who pay for or are financially responsible for patient services when the predetermined cost is exceeded.
Voting NO is a vote against limiting healthcare charges to 115 percent of the costs of direct patient care.

VOTE NO: This is similar to Prop 8 and brought by the same organization – the SEIU – the service employees union. While the intent is laudable, it should not be up to individual cities to mandate makes for a bureaucratic nightmare and competition from neighboring cities.



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