California Propositions 2014

Cross-posting my thoughts on this election cycle’s propositions for posterity’s sake:

Prop 1 – Yes. Spend more money on much-needed water infrastructure. The con argument as far as I can tell is that isn’t a magic bullet for CA’s drought problems (which largely stem from farming water-intensive crops in dry areas) and general concerns that the state isn’t very good at handling large sums of money (which would be persuasive if there were some more responsible group that we could hand the money to).

Prop 2 – Yes. Toughen CA’s rainy day fund. Good governance generally.

Prop 45 – No. I’m a bit torn on this actually (as is the Democratic Party apparently — Senators Boxer and Feinstein endorse but Nancy Pelosi opposes. Prop 45 requires that the Insurance Commissioner approves any rate hikes by insurance companies. In theory, this allows regulators to keep premiums down, but I’m not convinced that a lack of regulation is the reason for crazy health insurance premiums. Lack of pricing transparency and excess bureaucracy seem to play a bigger role, and Prop 45 doesn’t address that. However, Prop 45 would introduce additional delay and administrative uncertainty to putting new health plans on the Covered California healthcare exchange, which would reduce some of the options available to new enrollees. So, leaning no on this, but happy to hear from someone more familiar with how healthcare works.

Prop 46 – No. This proposition mixes together a bunch of medical malpractice issues that should really be addressed separately. The big one is that it increases the $250K cap on pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits to $1M. This isn’t a big deal in and of itself — the $250K cap was put in place in 1975. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $1M in today’s dollars (and really, as a lawyer, I’m not one to dispute higher jury awards).

What I don’t like though is that it requires mandatory drug testing of doctors whenever an “adverse event” occurs. Ugh. Being a doctor is already a pretty demoralizing job. Mistakes happen because doctors are human, and overworked sleep-deprived humans at that. Peeing in a cup won’t fix that.

Prop 47 – Yes. Prop 47 reduces penalties for drug and other minor crimes. Harsh sentencing guidelines haven’t done much to actually reduce drug use or petty theft. They have, however, cost us obscene amounts of money and wrecked havoc on civil liberties.

Prop 48 – Yes. The story behind Prop 48, as far as I can tell, is that when the state approved casinos for Native American tribes, a couple tribes got screwed by technicalities and left out. This just puts those tribes on equal footing with the rest of the tribes. Also, casinos don’t bother me and the tribes are giving us money.

California – Yes on Prop 14, No on Prop 16

As most people who read my stuff have probably already voted, I should have posted this earlier if I wanted to actually persuade anyone. Still, I feel it’s good practice for me to justify my own votes.

Yes on Prop 14

Prop 14 creates a non-partisan primary system. Rather than party-specific primaries, there’s just one big election where everyone from any party runs. The top two vote-getters (assuming neither candidate gets more than 50%) then move on to a run-off vote.

Personally, I think instant-runoff voting is the way to go, but a jungle primary would be an improvement too. That said, you’re not automatically getting less polarizing candidates as advertised. In most jungle primaries, the two who make it to the runoff round are probably going to be the same two who would have won the Democratic and Republican primaries anyway. The benefit is really in those edge cases where there’s a candidate with significant cross-over appeal. For example, let’s say I’m really invested in the outcome of a close Democratic primary for Governor but I also really like one of the more moderate Republican candidate for Treasurer. Under the old system, they’re on different ballots, so I’d have to choose which one I care about more. Under the new one, it’s all unified onto a single ballot, so I can make those moderating votes for both candidates. Continue reading “California – Yes on Prop 14, No on Prop 16”