Prop P Cheat Sheet: L.A. County Parks and Open Spaces Tax

Proposition P will appear on Los Angeles County voters' Nov. 4, 2014, ballot.

In 1992, Los Angeles County voters approved a tax to fund a wide variety of projects for parks and open spaces. The measure, Proposition A, raised $52 million a year to pay for things like converting land to parks, planting trees, and building restrooms, nature centers, and trails. But it expires this June.

Prop P aims to replace Prop A -- and boost its funds to $54 million annually -- with a new parks tax that would last for 30 years. It would levy a $23 tax to individual parcels of land regardless of their square-footage, replacing Prop A's property tax assessment.

The money would go toward a diversity of uses for parks and open space, including renovating beaches, developing river trails and dog parks, cleaning streams, repairing gyms and playing fields, and acquiring land, as well as gang prevention, after school and summer programs, and developing senior centers.

Prop P needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

Prop 1 Cheat Sheet: New Dams, Cleaner Drinking Water, and Protected Watersheds

The water level in Lake Oroville, north of Sacramento, seen in 2011 and 2014, shows the severe degree of California's drought. | Photos: Courtesy Paul Hames and Kelly Grow, California Department of Water Resources

This cheat sheet was published in tandem with a Prop 1 segment on KCET's "SoCal Connected." Watch it here or watch the full election special here.

Proposition 1 will appear on California's Nov. 4, 2014, ballot.

Since it began in 2011, California's drought has reached the highest level of severity in 50 of the state's 58 counties, according to the federal government, and prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

Perhaps due to the state's parched condition, legislators in Sacramento finally voted to put an overhaul of the state's water system -- a prospect that has been discussed for years -- on the ballot.

Prop 1 would approve the sale of $7.5 billion in bonds to clean, protect, and expand California's water supply over the long term. Generally speaking, the bill would shift the state's heavy reliance on snowpack, the largest water source, and one that global warming could lessen over time, to local sources. It would capture and store more water to better prepare for the region's natural drought cycles.

Though some projects could have an immediate impact on the current drought, such as water conservation measures, the initiative would largely fund projects that could take years or decades to produce results.

Prop 2 Cheat Sheet: Rainy Day Fund, Paying Off State Debt

Proposition 2 will appear on California's Nov. 4, 2014 ballot.

California is $300 billion in debt, a total it owes largely to pension and retiree health benefits, as well as local governments. In the broadest terms, Proposition 2 calls to pay down this debt and to save money for emergencies.

Under the measure, each year the state would pay off a minimum of around $800 million in debt, and put a minimum 0.75 percent of the general fund -- that's around $800 million today -- into savings for things like natural disasters or budget deficits. Prop 2 would also establish a reserve for school and community college districts -- something the state does not currently have.

At the moment, the state replenishes around $3 billion a year into its rainy day fund, which is capped at $8 billion. Prop 2 would allow the fund to grow to 10 percent of general fund revenues, which if in place today would cap it around $11 billion.

Prop 45 Cheat Sheet: Regulating Health Insurance Rate Increases

Under Prop 45, the California Insurance Commissioner, currently Dave Jones, pictured above, would be given veto power over health insurance rate increases.
| Photo: Courtesy of California Department of Insurance

This cheat sheet was published in tandem with a Prop 45 segment on KCET's "SoCal Connected." Watch it here or watch the full election special here.

Proposition 45 will appear on California's November 4, 2014, ballot.

If you thought Obamacare settled thing when it comes to health insurance, think again. Prop 45 has the potential to change the state-run healthcare marketplace, Covered California.

The initiative would make California the 36th state with the power to veto all rate increases to health insurance plans for individuals and small employer groups, those covering 50 or fewer employees, accounting for 16 percent of Californians. Covered California, for example, negotiates rates annually, but cannot stop health insurance companies from raising prices. Larger plans, which generally have greater leverage to negotiate rates with insurers, would not be affected by the measure in any way.

Under current law, the state reviews small group rate increases and makes information about them public. But it cannot veto them. This initiative would give the state insurance commissioner, an elected official, that authority. It would also mandate public notice and hearings for increases to make them transparent to consumers. The law would give insurers an explicit right to challenge denials to proposed rate increases in court.

Prop 46 Cheat Sheet: Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors, Increased Negligence Awards

This cheat sheet was published in tandem with a Prop 46 segment on KCET's "SoCal Connected." Watch it here or watch the full election special here.

Proposition 46 will appear on California's Nov. 4, 2014, ballot.

A shocking number of Americans die because of medical errors -- some estimates place them as the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Simultaneously, prescription drug abuse is at epidemic proportions, and doctors themselves are among the abusers.

This measure aims to remedy both problems, and to make medical negligence lawsuits more expensive for defendants as a means of preventing errors in operating rooms and other medical settings.

Prop 46 would create the nation's first random drug-testing rules for doctors. Additionally, it would mandate that doctors found to have worked while drunk or high are disciplined. Doctors would also be required to report other doctors they suspect of being under the influence on the job.

Prop 47 Cheat Sheet: Reducing Low-Level Felonies

This cheat sheet was published in tandem with a Prop 47 segment on KCET's "SoCal Connected." Watch it here or watch the full election special here.

Proposition 47 will appear on California's Nov. 4, 2014, ballot.

For decades, California's tough stance on crime, including its three-strikes law, has contributed to a swelling inmate population. In 2011*, prison overcrowding was so severe the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it as cruel and unusual punishment.

Despite measures to reduce overcrowding, like prison realignment, the problem still exists. At least in part, it's due to the 40,000 convictions each year for low-level felonies like possessing drugs for personal use or shoplifting, receiving stolen property, or forging checks in amounts less than $950.

Prop 47 would reclassify these crimes and other nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors. (Under current law, these crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the details. You may may hear these either-or classifications referred to as "wobblers.") Prisoners currently serving time for any of the crimes Prop 47 would reclassify could have their sentences reduced. Sentence reductions would be subject to approval from a judge, who may deem that a prisoner is too likely to commit serious crimes.

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