Editorials

The Bee recommends: ‘No’ on Prop 70; ‘yes’ on Props 71, 72

California’s June ballot will have only five propositions. Here’s our take on the final three, with the first potentially having a direct impact on our region:

Proposition 70: No. In the last-minute deal-making that extended California’s landmark cap-and-trade law regulating greenhouse gas pollution, Gov. Jerry Brown gave Republicans this gift in exchange for their critical votes. Proposition 70 would set up a 2024 showdown in which the allocation of cap-and-trade money would be put to a two-thirds vote of Legislature, thus giving the minority party more control over the fruits of the program.

By law, cap-and-trade revenues – paid by oil companies, factories and other greenhouse gas emitters – can only be used for programs that reduce climate pollution. A good-sized portion goes straight to high-speed rail, and Republicans don’t like that. But if Californians want to change the way cap-and-trade money is spent, they have an easier fix: elect Republicans and put them in control of the Legislature. This measure is an attempted end run around a much-needed public works project that a lot of Californians want and has resulted in a major infrastructre investment in Fresno and nearby counties. It’s also worth noting hat the majority of voters approved high-speed rail at the behest of a Republican governor.

Proposition 71: Yes. Of all the initiatives, this is probably the most needed. Right now under the state constitution, all propositions that appear likely to pass on election night automatically become law the next day.

That may have been fine when the state was young, but absentee and provisional ballots and voting by mail can now add weeks to the time it takes to determine an election’s outcome. The result is a real potential for ballot measures to take effect, and then turn out to be defeated and have to be rolled back.

That nearly happened in 2016, when a proposition banning plastic bags went into effect, even though thousands of ballots were outstanding. The ban ultimately did pass, but Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, saw the potential for confusion, after the issue was brought his attention by Ralph Shaffer, a Cal Poly Pomona historian.

Mullin authored ACA 17, a constitutional amendment, which passed the Legislature easily, and now requires voter approval. It would enact a simple change, making ballot propositions effective on the fifth day after the election results are certified.

Proposition 72: Yes. Homeowners who install systems to capture rainwater – and irrigate lawns and gardens with it – should be encouraged. Instead, they can now be dinged on their property taxes for adding the improvement, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, introduced Senate Bill 558, aiming to give rainwater capture the same tax protections as solar panels, fire sprinklers, disabled access and other improvements. Because it removes a tax penalty, it requires voter approval. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously, with the approval of environmental, taxpayers’ and business groups.

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