Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Prop 33, Prop 34, Prop 37, Prop 39 Down To The Wire

Michelle Toh |
November 6, 2012 | 12:31 a.m. PST

Assistant News Editor

A poster encouraging voters to support Prop 37 (NuclearWinter, Creative Commons)
A poster encouraging voters to support Prop 37 (NuclearWinter, Creative Commons)
California voters should be cognizant when voting Tuesday about George Joseph's latest admission. While bankrolling the campaign for Proposition 33 with $17 million of his personal fortune, the billionaire and insurance company owner admitted on Saturday that his own company, Mercury Insurance, does not offer the "persistence discount" he is proposing. 

Joseph has also told the Los Angeles Times that the aim of the initiative is to legalize higher insurance rates, adding to the perception that the proposition is simply a "billionaire's attempt to manipulate public policy."

He said he could give bigger discounts to his existing customers "if I could charge new people the proper rate." 

In 2006, the California Department of Insurance accused Mercury of "abusing its customers and intentionally violating the law with arrogance and indifference."

According to California Business Roundtable polls, Prop 33 has declined in approval in recent weeks from 54 percent to 48.8 percent. It is worth noting that the later poll surveyed over 2,000 people, a significant increase from the first group of 830.

SEE ALSO: Where's The Arab Vote? Arab-Americans Rally To Turn Out   

Prop 33 is vastly similar to the unpopular Prop. 17 which was defeated in the June 2010 statewide election. 

"This ballot measure is just the latest in a long history of efforts fo roll back consumer protections and discriminate against drivers in California," said Carmen Balber of the initiative's main opposing organization, Consumer Watchdog.

Opposing groups came together to compile a list of "top 10 reasons not to trust Mercury Insurance's Billionaire Chairman." See the list here. 

GMO FOOD LABELING

Prop 37 also has seen a decline in support. The unprecedented measure, which in September garnered favor from 61 percent of likely voters, saw a 17 percent drop one month later after the No on Prop 37 campaign outspent its opponent by an estimated $37 million, with backing from donors such as biotechnology company Monsanto and chemical company Dupont. Their competitors raised 28 percent of its $7 million fund from the state of California.

"California could lead the nation in this,” California campaign finance expert Bob Stern told NBC. “If it passes, it spreads. If it fails, it may be dead.”

"If mandatory labeling were to go into effect in California, the infrastructure necessary for companies to put it into place would likely mean the end of the national debate over GMO labeling," wrote the Atlantic

“When the public is confused, the public votes no,” Stern added.

DEATH PENALTY

In a Field Poll released on Nov. 2, Proposition 34 had 45 percent approval, leading by a margin of seven points. The motion to repeal the death penalty has risen in popularity in large part due to the understanding that the death penalty is more expensive than than a life sentence in prison without parole. 

So far, seventeen states have abolished the death penalty. The issue has been contested in California since it was ruled unconstitutional in 1972, which has led to it being halted and reinstated multiple times.

CORPORATE TAXES

Prop 39 has received fluctuating support in the polls, with it jumping from 51 percent approval to 60.6 percent in October, only to settle right near the middle at 54.5 percent. In addition to fixing what some saw as a legislative "mistake," (not the advertised "loophole"), the measure would create a five-year, $2.5 billion program of green energy projects. 

One of the reasons for the unstable approval ratings may be voter confusion. "It's hard to understand the measure without knowing something about the history of how states have taxed businesses that operate inside and outside their borders," Jon Healey wrote in the L.A. Times. 

Despite spending over $20 million, the Yes on 39 campaign may not have created enough awareness. In fact, the measure itself has been said to have received little attention in general, as pointed out by the San Francisco Chronicle in an article titled, "Prop. 39 generates muted opposition."

According to the article, General Motors donated $20,000 in August to a political action committee opposing Prop. 39 but then decided to drop the issue. A spokesperson said the company now had no formal position on the matter.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO: L.A. Porn Stars Speak Out Against Measure B

Reach Assistant News Editor Michelle Toh here.




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