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It’s Rational To Be Ignorant About Plethora of California Initiatives: New at Reason

Friday, November 4, 2016 6:18
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Californians will have a plethora of ballot initiatives to vote on next week. It’s ok if voters decide to vote no down the line.

Steven Greenhut writes:

You’ve got to wonder whether voters, many of whom don’t know the names of their own legislators, should determine whether revenue bonds for major infrastructure projects should be subject to a statewide vote (Proposition 53). Or whether certain state agencies should have the price of prescription drugs they buy tied to the lowest prices paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Proposition 61).

With many initiatives, one has to read the text multiple times to get their gist. Many are downright confusing. For instance, Proposition 67 asks voters to decide whether to ban stores from handing out “single-use” plastic bags to take home groceries. It’s a referendum rather than an initiative, which means the public is voting whether to uphold or overturn an already approved statute. A “yes” keeps the law and a “no” overturns it. (By the way, people do use these “single-use” bags multiple times—often to pick up doggie poo or line trash cans.)

To make matters less clear, there’s a related—and wonderfully mischievous—measure called Proposition 65. The plastic-bag industry was annoyed that the grocery industry ultimately backed the bag ban. Under the final compromise, stores may not give away those light plastic bags, but they must charge for other types of bags. They keep the money. This initiative would redirect the estimated $300 million in proceeds from the stores to a state environmental fund—but only if voters approve Proposition 67.

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