California has joined a growing trend across the country by approving the recreational use of marijuana and hemp.
Proposition 64 will also establish packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products, including prohibiting marketing and advertising marijuana to minors.
The initiative also authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.
The measure will impose a state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15 percent of the sales price and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.
The initiative allows for local regulation and taxation of marijuana and exempts medical marijuana from some taxation.
Passage of the initiative will result in net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
The analysis also found passage will result in net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds will be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention and treatment.
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its products. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed.
Opponents — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — argued that legalizing marijuana will lead to a sharp increase highway fatalities and impaired driving, noting there is no current standard for determining if a driver is “impaired” by marijuana. They also argued the measure would permit marijuana farms near schools and public parks and will lead to a proliferation of “pot shops,” particularly in inner-city communities.
Detractors also contended the measure would allow prime-time television advertisements for marijuana, exposing children to the drug. Backers of the measure flatly deny that the proposition includes any such provision and includes strict requirements to prevent marketing or sale of marijuana to children
Proposition 52: Hospital fees
Fees paid by hospitals that are used to generate federal matching funds for Medi-Cal health services will remain in place.
Approval will extend fees that were set to expire in 2018. It also requires voter approval of any change in the use of the fees.
The proposition did not have active, vocal opposition, although some critics questioned whether it would simply generate $3 billion for hospital executives without any oversight and no requirement that the funds be spent on health care.
Proposition 53: Construction bonds
A measure that would require voter approval of state construction projects that are funded by bonds and cost more than $2 billion was narrowly defeated.
Proposition 53 would have required voter approval for projects that are financed, owned, operated or managed by the state or a partnership between the state and a local government, federal agency or another state.
It also would have prohibited splitting big-dollar projects into separate bond issues to bring them below the $2 billion threshold for a public vote.
Proponents of the measure, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, argued it would close a loophole in state law that allows politicians to “borrow billions in state revenue bond debt for massive state projects without voter approval.”
Proposition 55: Education funding
Income tax increases enacted by voters in 2012 to bolster education funding will remain in place for another 12 years.
Proposition 55 will extend the personal income tax increases on earnings over $250,000 for single filers, over $500,000 for joint filers and over $340,000 for heads of household.
The measure includes provisions allocating 89 percent of the tax revenue from the increases to kindergarten through 12th-grade education and 11 percent to community colleges. It also allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for health care programs.
The initiative bars the use of education revenues for administrative costs, but allows local school boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how revenues are to be spent.
Proposition 56: Tobacco tax hike
The price of a pack of cigarettes — and other tobacco products — will be going up in California, with voters overwhelmingly backing a $2-per-pack tax to fund health care, tobacco-use prevention and other programs.
Proposition 56, dubbed the “California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016,” will also place an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine.
Passage of the initiative will result in a net increase in tax revenues in the range of $1 billion to $1.4 billion annually by 2017-18, with revenues decreasing slightly in subsequent years, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
Proposition 58: Bilingual education
A nearly 20-year-old requirement that California school children, including English-learners, be taught in English will be retooled under a measure that will restore authority for school districts to offer bilingual education.
Proposition 58 repeals provisions of Proposition 227, which was passed by voters in 1998 and requires all non-language classes in California schools to be taught in English. Proposition 58 will allow schools to offer bilingual programs in subjects such as math and history, with proponents saying it will help English-learners absorb the material more effectively.
Backers of the measure claimed the English-immersion system may help students learn English, but they lag behind in other classes. They said the proposition will ensure that all students can achieve English proficiency faster, while expanding opportunities for English-speaking students to learn a second language.
“Too many California students are being left behind and not given the opportunity to learn English with the most effective teaching methods possible,” proponents contended in a ballot argument. “This is because of an outdated nearly 20-year-old law, Proposition 227, which restricts the instructional methods school districts can use to teach English.”
Proposition 60: Adult-film condoms
A measure that would have required adult-film performers to wear condoms during sex scenes, and make producers and film distributors liable for violations, was defeated.
Proposition 60 was strongly opposed by the adult-film industry, including producers and many performers, and was primarily backed by the Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which spearheaded a similar law that was approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2012.
In addition to requiring condoms, the measure would have also required adult-film producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing and medical exams for sexually transmitted diseases. It would have also mandated that a notification be posted at film sites, and film producers would have been required to obtain health licenses. The proposition also imposed liability for violations on producers, distributors and performers who have a financial interest in the film, as well as on talent agents who refer performers to non- compliant producers.
Proposition 61: Prescription prices
A measure that backers contended would have controlled the price of prescription medication for millions of residents, but that opponents insisted would do the opposite, was defeated.
Proposition 61 would have prohibited state agencies from buying any prescription drugs for a price above the lowest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which receives a federally mandated discount of 20-24 percent. Backers said the proposal would have slashed the price of medication for residents who receive drug coverage through various state agencies, including low-income residents on Medi-Cal.
The measure would have applied to any program in which a state agency ultimately pays for the medication, although Medi-Cal’s managed care programs, which cover 75 percent of Medi-Cal enrollees, would have been exempted.
Proposition 62: Death penalty
The death penalty will remain on the books in California, with voters rejecting a bid to abolish the punishment, but a competing measure designed to speed up executions was too close to call.
Proposition 62 would have repealed the death penalty and replaced it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The initiative would have applied retroactively to people already sentenced to death, and would have required prisoners serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for murder to work while in prison.
Passage of the initiative would have resulted in a net reduction in state and local government costs of potentially around $150 million annually within a few years, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
Meanwhile, voters were narrowly backing Proposition 66, which would not only maintain the death penalty, but take steps to expedite appeals to quicken the pace of executions.
The proposal would direct initial death-sentence appeals to a superior court judge, and limit the number of successive appeals. It would also establish a timeline for appeals, widen the field of appointed attorneys to handle death penalty appeals, and authorize the transfer of death row inmates among state prisons.
Proposition 67: Plastic grocery bags
Plastic grocery bags will be banned in California, with voters narrowly validating the Legislature’s previously approved prohibition, while residents defeating an initiative redirecting money collected by stores from the sale of carry-out bags to a fund supporting environmental projects.
The approval of Proposition 67 bars grocery stores and other selected retail outlets from handing out single-use plastic bags, but allows them to sell recycled paper bags and reusable bags for a minimum of 10 cents.
The state Legislature approved the ban and the governor signed it into law in 2014, but a referendum forced the issue onto the ballot.
Meanwhile, voters defeated Proposition 65, which would have legislated the use of money raised by the statewide ban. Passage of the initiative would have resulted in the several tens of millions of dollars annually being transferred to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board for certain environmental and natural resources purposes, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
— City News Service
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