Yes on Propositions 45, 47 and 48

No on Prop. 46

With the election just over a month away, it’s time to look at some of the measures on this November’s ballot.

Proposition 45 would grant the insurance commissioner the responsibility to approve or deny rate changes proposed by insurance companies.

Obviously, the insurance companies hate it. Despite the No on 45 campaign’s claim that it’s a power grab by the insurance commissioner, Prop. 45 simply brings the procedure for health insurance rate changes in line with those for other insurance rates. What’s more, it would put the responsibility for approving those rate changes squarely on a public official who is elected by all the state’s voters.

That seems reasonable to us, and we urge a yes vote on Prop. 45.

Proposition 46, another health-related measure, sounds good on the surface. It would require drug testing the state’s doctors. However, there are a couple of issues with the initiative.

First, we don’t currently have an epidemic of drug- and alcohol-fueled medical cases. The Medical Board of California disciplines doctors for substance abuse and mandates treatment, and they seem to be handling it quite well.

Second, buried in this initiative is language that would raise the cap on “pain and suffering” damages in medical malpractice cases from the current $250,000 to $1.1 million. While there may be good arguments for such a change, we haven’t heard them.

We urge a no vote on Prop. 46.

Proposition 47 is the product of our state’s ongoing struggle with prison overcrowding and the costs of incarceration. The proposition would change the status of some nonviolent drug and theft charges from felonies to misdemeanors, thereby reducing the prison sentences, relieving overcrowding and saving money.

We’re not talking about violent or sex offenses or drug trafficking here. Instead, under Prop. 47, offenders convicted on minor drug or petty-theft charges will face time in a local jail—and perhaps the possibility of some rehabilitative programs to keep them out of prison. It makes fiscal sense and it passes the common sense test, too, and so we advise a yes vote on Prop. 47.

The last of the propositions, Prop. 48, approves new Indian Gaming Compacts and addresses where casinos may be situated. A yes vote will validate the negotiated compacts.

Our reasoning on this is simple: The state has negotiated these compacts. Issues with them should have been addressed long before now, through the public hearing process and by contacting legislators. What’s more, the opponents of this proposition claim that it “opens the floodgates” for tribal-gaming operations to be constructed on land that is outside their traditional tribal areas.

We’d like to point out that all of California is traditional tribal land. It just depends on how far back you think “tradition” ought to go.

While voters who hold strong principles in opposition to gambling may feel otherwise and should follow their conscience, we urge a yes vote on Prop. 48.