xHgGrtG-show-poster2x3-aXpIxNN.png

Artbound

Start watching
Tending Nature poster 2021

Tending Nature

Start watching
IYhnPQZ-show-poster2x3-Ytk6YwX.png

Southland Sessions

Start watching
RYQ2PZQ-show-poster2x3-OGargou.jpg

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
E5VnHdZ-show-poster2x3-PrXshoo.png

City Rising

Start watching
QraE2nW-show-poster2x3-uY3aHve.jpg

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Prop 29: Should I Vote for a Good Proposal or Against a Bad Process?

prop-29-ballot-process

Photo: joebeone/Flickr/Creative Commons License

As readers of my commentaries know, I am no fan of the initiative process. I believe that the process that was designed to protect against the influence of special interests has now been hijacked by those same interests. What one needs to qualify a proposal for the ballot is not a good idea, but money. Money also doesn't hurt much in getting initiatives passed (meaning money is one of the key factors to success). When and if an initiative is successful, dollars to donuts that measure will end up in the courts. We often spend time and resources litigating the meaning and constitutionality of initiatives. And a good percentage of the time at least a portion of an initiative is tossed. In addition to all of these problems, initiatives bypass the (hopefully) deliberative process that occurs when laws are passed by the legislature.

So why am I considering voting for one of these dreaded initiatives? One of the measures on the June 5, 2012 ballot in California is Proposition 29, which is called the "Tobacco Tax for Cancer Research Act." Prop 29 would increase the sales tax on each pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $1.87. The additional revenue, which the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates to be about $735 million per year, would go to funding cancer research and programs aimed at reducing smoking.

You can likely see my problem as that proposal sounds good to me. Here are two fairly uncontroversial things that I believe: First, fewer people should smoke since smoking can cause serious health risks; second, more money should go to cancer research. But here is a third, more controversial belief: The initiative process is deeply flawed (see above).

Where does this leave me? On the one hand it's hard to argue against the purpose and anticipated effect of Prop 29. On the other hand, it would be enacted through a process I generally do not support. Do I vote for the proposal and hold my nose about the process through which the proposal got to the ballot? Do I show my disapproval for the initiative process by voting against all initiatives? Or do I just sit it out?

It seems that my preferred option, having a legislative branch that would enact this law, is not available.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
A young girl with a red shirt plays with her parents

The U.S. Healthcare System is Broken, Middle-Class Families with Disabled Members Fight with the Power of Their Stories

For middle-class parents of disabled children, good income and great insurance are still not enough to cover the vast holes in U.S. healthcare.
un mazo de juez de madera

Justicia retrasada: tribunales abrumados por el atraso de la pandemia

Desde la manutención de los hijos hasta el fraude de seguros, los casos judiciales se retrasan en todo California. Solo la mitad de los casos civiles y penales se resolvieron el verano pasado en comparación con las cifras anteriores a la pandemia. “La justicia no se ha cerrado. La justicia se ha ralentizado”, según un grupo de abogados.
A gavel on a table

Justice Delayed: Courts Overwhelmed by Pandemic Backlog

From child support to insurance fraud, court cases are delayed throughout California. Only half as many civil and criminal cases were resolved last summer compared with pre-pandemic numbers. “Justice has not shut down. Justice has slowed down,” according to an attorneys’ group.