The other day I was thumbing through California’s official voter information guide to read up on some of the propositions that we’ll be voting on in November. This year, we’ll decide 12 statewide propositions, plus numerous local and county measures.
In general, I believe direct democracy is the only way that hard-working Californians can go around an out-of-touch Legislature to try and enact fiscally responsible policies. For example, overtaxed Californians would never get the chance to vote on the gas tax absent the people’s right to referendum.
But looking over this year’s propositions, it makes you wonder if things really have gone too far and it’s time to rein things in.
Consider these questionable measures on the November ballot:
- Proposition 7 would give the California Legislature the ability to change the state’s observance of daylight savings time by a two-thirds vote.
- Proposition 8 would regulate what private kidney dialysis clinics must spend on outpatient care.
- Under Proposition 11, “private ambulance companies could continue their current practice of having emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics stay on-duty during their meal and rest breaks in order to respond to 911 calls.”
- Proposition 12 would establish new requirement for confining certain farm animals, and prohibit the sale of meat, eggs, and poultry that don’t comply with the new requirements.
When weighing in on California’s misplaced priorities, former Assemblyman – and soon-to-be State Senator – Brian Jones would frequently ask, “Are you kidding me?” Looking at these propositions, I think most voters would agree. Should government really be getting involved in issues like spending at private kidney dialysis clinics? Probably not.
It’s just plain silly to ask voters to decide if we want to keep daylight savings time. With California facing the nation’s highest poverty rate and runaway housing costs, there are more important priorities than judging what kind of eggs we should be allowed to buy.
These trivial measures are also a sign of just how broken the Legislature really is. Lawmakers are seemingly capable of finding a reasonable solution on issues like break times for private-sector paramedics. Voters shouldn’t have to do their job for them.
Voters have repeatedly affirmed their strong support for the initiative process in public opinion surveys over the years.
Perhaps that’s what is really behind this year’s deluge of trivial ballot measures – overwhelm voters with lots of silly votes so they eventually get fed up and demand reform.
My advice – grin and bear it and make your voices heard on these measures that shouldn’t be on the ballot at all. It’s a small price to pay to ensure that we’re able to make our voices heard at the ballot box in the first place.
Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.