California initiatives do battle on ballot

By Valerie Richardson-The Washington Times

The 2010 California ballot isn’t just a list of traditional ballot initiatives and propositions – at times it’s a toe-to-toe slugfest between the state Legislature and anyone standing in its way.

Most of the national attention has gone to Proposition 19, which would make California the first state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. But look further down the ballot, and the recurring theme is of the Democrat-controlled Legislature fighting to expand its authority, while outsiders seek to curtail it.

The clashing resolutions have even spawned activist groups with names such as “Yes on 20/No on 27” to let Golden State voters know how to deal with clashing measures on the ballot.

Exhibit A: the budget. The state’s marathon budget battles are the stuff of lore – this year’s budget stalemate has already set a state record of 85 days through Thursday, with no end in sight. Proposition 25 would change the requirement for passing the state budget from a two-thirds vote to a simple majority, thus allowing the Democrats to approve budgets without any Republican support.

But Propositions 22 and 26 would restrict the Legislature’s ability to raise revenue by borrowing from the state’s transportation fund or by increasing fees and levies. Meanwhile, Proposition 24 would suspend the state’s much-vaunted climate-change restrictions until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or lower for at least a year.

Then there’s redistricting. Two years ago, voters passed Proposition 11, which removed the power to draw legislative districts from lawmakers in Sacramento and handed it to an independent commission – just in time for the 2012 redistricting battles.

Proposition 27, backed by state legislators, would eliminate the commission and return the power to the Legislature. But another measure, Proposition 20, would expand the redistricting commission’s authority to include congressional districts.

What happens if voters decide to expand the commission’s authority and to abolish it at the same time? According to the California Secretary of State’s Office, the proposition that receives more votes in November will prevail.

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