And they’re off!
Ballot initiatives get go-ahead for signature collection
A number of state ballot initiatives got the go-ahead in December for proponents to begin collecting signatures to qualify the measures for the November general election. Included in the efforts are marijuana legalization, a softening of the state’s gun control laws, a prohibition on abortions for young women without parental consent, and a tax on cigarettes to help fund health care.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the Attorney General prepares the title and sums up the proposal as it will appear on the initiative’s signature-gathering petition. The petition is then given to proponents for circulation to gather signatures, which must be collected within 150 days.
The marijuana initiative would legalize the use, growth, cultivation, possession, transportation, storage and sale of pot. A commission would be formed to provide business licenses for purveyors, and a retail sales tax would be placed on sales, unless there is an exemption in place for medical or dietary use. The tax revenue would be spread evenly among education, health care, law enforcement, and drug-abuse education and treatment. It would bar state and local law-enforcement agencies from imposing federal laws on marijuana.
If passed, according to Michael Cohen, director of the state Department of Finance, the law would reduce costs of existing marijuana enforcement to “the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments” and could bring in a similar amount in tax revenue.
An initiative first introduced in 2012 that would require parental notification and a waiting period prior to any abortion procedure performed on women under 18 years old is back for voter consideration. Specifically, the measure would prohibit abortion for an “unemancipated minor until 48 hours after [a] physician or other authorized medical professional notifies her parent/legal guardian in writing.”
Exceptions would be made for medical emergencies, parental waivers, or cases in which parental abuse has been documented by “notarized statement from law enforcement, protective services, or certain relatives.” Additionally, a judge would be permitted to waive notice if the minor appears in court and proves her maturity, or if a waiver “is in her best interest.”
The measure’s listed proponent is John Smith, according to a press release from the Secretary of State’s Office.
The California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2014 initiative would raise the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack, with a proportionate increase in tax on other tobacco products. The revenue generated—roughly $1.4 billion in 2014-15, according to the state Board of Equalization—would go primarily toward funding health-care programs and services, tobacco-use-prevention programs and tobacco-related disease research, as well as for “state and local agencies to enhance law enforcement.”
The secretary of state’s summary notes that if the new tax causes decreased tobacco consumption, the measure would transfer new tax revenues to offset the decrease in funding to existing tobacco-funded programs.
The last time California raised its tobacco tax was in 1998.
Finally, an initiative on firearms regulations, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, “[a]mends California Constitution to establish a right to acquire, possess, transport, transfer, and use firearms for lawful purposes, including for defense of self, family, home and property. Eliminates state firearms-owner registration, regulation of ammunition, and assault-weapons restrictions.”
It would permit limited state regulation of “possession of firearms and ammunition by, and sale to, the dangerous mentally ill and felons.”