Read the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations for the Nov. 8 ballot, including local races and state propositions.
House of Representatives: Anna Eshoo (D) (Inc)
State Senate: Jerry Hill (D) (Inc)
State Assembly: Vicki Veenker (D)
Liz Kniss (Inc)
Laura Casas (I)
Santa Clara County Board of Education: Sheena Chin
Measure A (Santa Clara County) Affordable Housing Bond Measure: YES
Measure B (Santa Clara County) Half-Cent Transportation Sales Tax: YES
No on Prop. 51 -- School Construction Bonds
This initiative is financially supported by large home builders and the construction industry and would authorize $9 billion in bonds to build new schools, not fix or improve existing schools. School bond measures are best passed on a local level, where 80 percent are now successful with the reduced 55 percent vote requirement, and unless and until reforms are made that don't favor wealthy school districts at the expense of the districts with the greatest need, state school bonds like this one should be voted down.
Yes on Prop. 52 -- Medi-Cal Fees
A constitutional amendment that will extend the current requirement, set to expire in 2018, that private hospitals pay fees to fund health services for low income families. This measure enjoys broad support except from the health care employee union, which is the primary funder of the opposition.
No on Prop. 53 -- Statewide Voter Approval of Revenue Bonds
This constitutional amendment would require a statewide vote to approve any bond measure for large projects that are intended to be repaid from revenue generated by the funded project. It would take away local control, has been promoted by a large Stockton agribusiness interest and is widely opposed. Directly affected local voters are best equipped to evaluate such bond measures.
Yes on Prop. 54 -- Legislative Reform
A constitutional amendment that would require any bill being considered by the Legislature to be posted online at least 72 hours before a final vote. The good-government measure's campaign is being funded almost entirely by Palo Alto resident Charles Munger, Jr. and opposed by labor unions that have benefited by last minute "gut and amend" bills that are virtually invisible to the public.
Yes on Prop. 55 -- Extension of High Income Tax
This initiative will extend for 12 years the temporary state income-tax bracket for earnings over $250,000 passed in 2012 to help provide additional funding for K-12 public schools and community colleges. At risk is some $4 billion in school funding, now set to expire at the end of 2018. This isn't a desirable way to fund public education and is vulnerable to an economic downturn, but losing this revenue could have severe ripple effects on school budgets.
Yes on Prop. 56 -- Tobacco Tax
This measure would increase the current excise tax on cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.87 per pack and for the first time subject electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to the tax. Revenue generated would fund health and education programs.
Yes on Prop. 57 -- Criminal Sentencing
This initiative seeks to reform some of the current sentencing rules for nonviolent felonies and require that a juvenile court judge approve any prosecution of a juvenile as an adult.
Yes on Prop. 58 -- Bilingual Education
This measure will reverse some of the worst impacts of Prop. 227, passed in 1998 and promoted and funded by Palo Alto resident Ron Unz. Prop. 227 sought to force English Language Learners to only be taught in English and severely restricted the use of bilingual programs. At a time when one in five California students does not speak English as their primary language, Prop. 58 will give local school districts needed flexibility in developing good and effective English language programs.
Yes on Prop. 59 -- Campaign Financing
This is an advisory measure aimed at encouraging California political leaders to do what they can to achieve the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case that gutted campaign laws restricting campaign financing. Placed on the ballot by the state Legislature, Prop. 59 is seeking a worthwhile result but is not likely to have any real impact. It's a poor use of the initiative process.
No on Prop. 60 -- Condoms in Adult Films
This initiative seeks to correct what its supporters believe is lax enforcement of existing labor rules requiring the use of condoms in adult films, but it creates unreasonable and unwise requirements that will lead to extensive litigation. It's a solution in search of a problem.
No on Prop. 61 -- State Drug Purchases
This measure would prohibit state agencies from paying any more for prescription drugs for low income Medi-Cal patients than is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A reaction to high drug prices and the lack of transparency in drug pricing, this initiative is a simplistic solution to a complex problem and will likely result in many adverse and unintended consequences.
Yes on Prop. 62 -- Repeal of Death Penalty
This is a straight forward initiative to repeal California's death penalty and resentence all inmates on Death Row to life sentences without possibility of parole.
Yes on Prop. 63 -- Prohibition & Regulation of Ammunition
This initiative would tighten regulation of gun and ammunition sales by requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition and prohibiting possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. It's predictably being opposed by the gun interests and supported by virtually everyone else.
Yes on Prop. 64 -- Marijuana Legalization
This initiative would make it legal for adults over age 21 to grow, possess, cultivate and use marijuana and, more importantly, creates a regulatory system for commercial growers and sellers. Current law permits medicinal marijuana use, which has been widely abused, and Prop. 64 addresses these abuses with a sensible and better drafted set of regulations and taxes than those proposed six years ago, when Prop. 19 was narrowly defeated.
No on Prop. 65 -- Carryout Bag Revenue
This deceptive initiative, sponsored by the plastic-bag industry, is designed to confuse voters. It requires that money collected from selling shopping bags to consumers be redirected to a fund for environmental purposes rather than retained by the retailer. The industry is hoping the confusion between this measure and Prop. 67 will bring defeat to 67, which is a referendum on the state's ban on single-use plastic bags.
No on Prop. 66 -- Shortened Death Penalty Appeals
We hope this measure will become moot with the passage of Prop. 62 and the repeal of the death penalty, but just in case, voters should vote against shortening the appeals process in death penalty cases. While appeals can go on for decades, the long process helps prevent the possibility that an innocent person is executed and has the effect of minimizing executions.
Yes on Prop. 67 -- Plastic Bag Ban
This proposition is a referendum on a current state law similar to the ordinance in effect in Palo Alto -- prohibiting grocery and some other retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags at check-out and requiring a charge of at least 10 cents for paper bags. The state law has been on hold due to this referendum, which is funded by the plastic bag industry. A "yes" vote upholds the state law. The ban on single-use plastic bags and requirement that consumers be charged for paper bags has been a huge success in cities that have adopted it, and passage of Prop. 67 would extend these benefits statewide.