Ballot Measures

By Martin Wisckol / Staff Columnist
June 23, 2016

A list of 20 or so ballot measures can turn into a mind-numbing journey to obscure corners of government financing and bureaucracy.

Not this time.

Pot, the death penalty, condoms, plastic bags, the price of drugs, English only, Citizens United … There’s a deep pile of hot-button initiatives on the November ballot that even non-voters are likely to have an opinion on.

Here are the eight that so far have been determined to have filed adequate signatures to appear before voters, the two that have been put on the ballot by state legislators and a quick look at others likely to qualify:

Overturn Citizens United. This largely symbolic proposal asks whether California’s elected officials “should use all of their constitutional authority” to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which cleared the way for unlimited federal campaign spending by special interests via political action committees. It would take an act of Congress — and possibly a constitutional amendment — to void the ruling.

Gun control. If approved, this would ban all existing large-capacity magazines, require a background check and state authorization to buy ammunition, and would required lost or stolen guns to be reported to law enforcement.

Reverse the plastic bag ban. The referendum, backed by the plastic bag industry, seeks to overturn a Legislature-approved ban on grocery stores and certain other retailers from using plastic bags. The statewide measure has been put on hold pending the vote, although bag opponents have continued to win city and county bans.

Ease the “English only” teaching requirement. This would relax the mandates of 1998’s Prop. 227, which largely eliminated bilingual education and mandated that non-English speakers be taught in English with limited exceptions.

Repeal the death penalty. This would replace the state’s death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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