Decision 2016 Ballot Analysis: Prop. 60 through 67 (4/5)

userpic=voteThe upcoming November ballot, at least in my precinct in Los Angeles, California, is large. As the Donald might say, it is “Yuuuuuge”. So I’m splitting my regular sample ballot analysis into five posts: one covering the Presidential ticket (although you know where I’m going there), one for the down-ticket races, two covering the state-wide propositions on the ballot (50-59, 60-67), and a final post covering the county, city, and special district measures. I’ll also include one additional post summarizing all my positions. This post covers the remaining 8 statewide propositions, Proposition 60 through Proposition 67. As always, if you have different views, I urge you to comment and try to convince me to change my mind.

Note: Propositions Haiku by Damion Carroll.

Proposition 60: Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.

Adult film makers
Would have to require condoms
Or risk a lawsuit

Summary: Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites. Fiscal Impact: Likely reduction of state and local tax revenues of several million dollars annually. Increased state spending that could exceed $1 million annually on regulation, partially offset by new fees.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: There are some who accuse California of being a nanny state. This proposition is an example of that. But let’s explore it anyway — take off the wrapper, so to speak.

Prop. 60 is relatively simple: it would require adult film performers in California to wear condoms. This would be done by placing additional workplace health and safety requirements on adult film productions in California and additional ways to enforce those requirements. Anyone could report performers for not wearing condoms. Voting no would keep current state and local workplace health and safety requirements in place, including the rules now interpreted to require condom use in adult film productions.

Now, I live in the San Fernando Valley. The headquarters of AVN is less than a mile away on Lassen (near the courthouse). The HQ of Vivid is around the corner from Universal Studios Hollywood. There are those that say that on of the main industries in the San Fernando Valley is porn. LA County instituted a law such as this. Most productions left the area. This took away many jobs — not just for the performers, but for all the crew and production people (I’d say the writers, but this is porn).

Porn is a difficult subject to discuss. If the actors are willing, adult, and making their own decisions, it should be up to them what they do and don’t do with their bodies. Often, alas, that’s not the case. There are many that want to get rid of the porn industry completely. That will never happen, given human nature. Can this films be exploitive? Yes. Can they promote violence, even fantasy violence? Yes. But none of that will go away with this measure, unless the backers believe that putting condoms on penises will make no one want to see them.

So, who is supporting Prop. 60. Medical professionals, nurses, AIDS organizations, healthcare organizations, occupational safety and health organizations… and feeding into the nanny state ideas some have about the Democrats (or Santa Monica), the Santa Monica Democratic Club. Only the Bakersfield Californian has endorsed Prop. 60. On the other side? Almost all the newspapers. Many elected officials, and both the Democratic and Republican parties. A large number of health and advocacy organizations.

Here’s what the LA Times has to say: “The proposition would, in effect, make every Californian a potential condom cop by both mandating condom use and creating a private right of action so that any resident who spots a violation in a pornographic film shot in the state could sue and collect cash from the producers and purveyors if they prevail in court.” With respect to the loss of jobs, the Times noted: “The Times editorial board opposed Measure B because we thought it was unlikely to increase condom use but would instead drive the industry underground or out of town. And that is exactly what happened. The year Measure B passed, there were 480 permits pulled for film shoots involving “nonsimulated sex,” according to FilmLA. The following year, in 2013, just 40 were pulled. That number has been dropping each year since. It’s not clear how much of the shooting has left the county or state, taking its sound, lighting, stage and other jobs and related economic benefits with it. But if Proposition 60 passes, it seems reasonable to expect the industry to go further underground or leave the state and become further fragmented. Perversely, this would threaten the integrity of the voluntary — and effective — twice-a-month testing protocol which is credited with keeping HIV transmissions in check.”

There’s a simple reason why (and it isn’t the belief that those who watch porn don’t want to see condoms, because for every possible thing you can think of in the porn universe, someone wants to see it). The simple reason is: this is not something the state should be involved with, and as the Times has noted, it is very poorly written.

But, you say, we have other workplace safety rules. We require health care workers to wear gloves. We protect people from dangerous environments. Why shouldn’t we require condoms? I can’t argue with that, but I just think this issue is a nanny state too far. More importantly, I believe that requiring this will just move production underground or under the rubric of “amateur” or “homemade”. When you do that, there won’t be any health and safety checks or workplace protections. Better all the regular testing that this industry does not, and production that is aboveground and supervised. If the performers want it, they will demand it. Let it come from the performers, not the people outside.

Conclusion: Thumbs Down No on 60 fb.

Proposition 61: State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.

In theory, lowers
The cost of some state-bought drugs
(But it could backfire)

Summary: Prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts managed care programs funded through Medi–Cal. Fiscal Impact: Potential for state savings of an unknown amount depending on (1) how the measure’s implementation challenges are addressed and (2) the responses of drug manufacturers regarding the provision and pricing of their drugs.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: This proposition is subject to a lot of advertising, because it can potentially hurt a very sacred cow: the pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma doesn’t want to be hurt. It can’t afford the drugs needed to recover. So it is unloading all the guns. But is it firing blanks? Perhaps it needs Viagra. Or Progenitorivox.

Basically, this would require all prescription drugs purchased by the State of California to be priced at or below the price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, which pays by far the lowest price of any federal agency. So for whom does the State of California purchase drugs? After all, managed care under Medi-Cal is exempted. The answer is that the state (i.e., tax dollars) pay the drug costs for the 112,000 inmates in California state prisons. This would also affect the price for the nearly five million Californians who are non-HMO participants in Medi-Cal, and who are members of CalPERS, and the 31,000 participants in the AIDS Drug Assistance program (ADAP).

The problem? There are those who believe that this could result in other states doing the same thing. If enough other states do this, the drug companies will (they believe) raise prices for the VA, affecting every vet. They may also raise prices for drugs not purchased by the state. That might not affect you directly, but will affect your insurance carrier, their formularies, and may ultimately affect what drugs you get as a covered benefit.

Who supports it? Bernie Sanders, natch. Consumer groups. Retirees. Unions. Health care organizations. Democratic organizations. Numerous elected officials. Who opposes it? Big Pharms. Most major newspapers, including the LA Times. Why? Here’s what the Times says: “As much as Proposition 61’s sponsors rail about drugmakers’ greed, however, they assume that the very same avaricious, monopolistic companies will do nothing in response to the squeeze on the industry’s profits if the measure passes — that somehow, scruples or lack of market power will stop them from compensating by raising the prices they charge private insurers, consumers and the VA itself. That’s either naive or magical thinking, and it’s why Proposition 61 deserves a no vote.” Later they note: “The biggest unknown, though, is what drug makers would do if the measure put a dent in their revenues. If pharmaceutical companies are as profit-hungry as the supporters of Proposition 61 contend — and you’ll hear no argument to the contrary from us — they will seek to recover those lost profits by taking more out of someone else’s hide. After all, that’s what happened after Congress ordered drugmakers in 1990 to extend discounts to Medicaid; according to the General Accounting Office, many pharmaceutical companies responded by raising prices for buyers in the private sector.”

As I read the various editorials, the conclusion I’m coming to is that this is a: “good idea, bad execution”. Drug prices are out of control, but the way to address them is not at the state-by-state level. We tried that with health insurance, and where did it get us. Just as the real answer to health insurance is single payer, the real answer to out of control drug costs is not this measure — it is at the Federal level. The LA Times agrees with me, noting: “The underlying problem of fast-rising drug prices needs to be addressed comprehensively and nationally, so that relief for some doesn’t come at the expense of others. It means increasing competition by speeding the approval of new treatments. It means examining the role that federally funded research plays in the development of new drugs, and considering how that investment ought to affect drug patents and pricing. And it means exploring new insurance models that base drug payments on the value each medicine provides a patient.”

Much as I would like to believe that this measure is the magic bullet, umm, excuse me, magic pill (hmmm, I’m hankerin’ for some Progenitorivox), for the problem, it isn’t. To fix the problem, we need to (a) elect a smart President, and (b) elect a congress that will actual solve both the medical insurance problem and the drug price problem. How do we do that? First, overturn Citizens United, to get politicians out of the pocket of Big Pharma. Then put someone like Elizabeth Warren in charge of the problem. Fix this at the Federal level, not this way. (and unfortunately, that does mean I’m siding with Big Pharma on this, and that’s a really bitter pill)

Conclusion:  Thumbs Down No on 61 fb

Proposition 62: Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Vote for this one if
You want to eliminate
The death penalty

(See Proposition 66 on the same subject)

Summary: Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Increases the portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution. Fiscal Impact: Net ongoing reduction in state and county criminal justice costs of around $150 million annually within a few years, although the impact could vary by tens of millions of dollars depending on various factors.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: Before I even look at the endorsements and who is going what way, here’s my thinking: First and foremost, the Death Penalty is not a deterrent. No one ever decides not to commit a capital crime because of the threat of the death penalty. It is also barbaric. It is also final. Eyewitness testimony is proving increasingly unreliable, and even DNA evidence is being challenged. Cases are being overturned years after convictions. Further, the implicit racial bias in our justice system means that often race has been used to convict or give a harsher penalty. Further, any death penalty case will have loads and loads of appeals. These appeals would be unnecessary with life sentences without the possibility of parole, simply because there wouldn’t be the wall of finality. For all these reasons (and I’m sure there are many many more), the death penalty is not the answer. Life sentences without the possibility of parole is.

Luckily, I’m not alone in my thinking. Many national leaders have come out in favor of Prop. 61. So have most Democratic organizations. So has the League of Women Voters. So have the major papers and most second-tier papers in the state, including the LA Times. The Times wrote: “How dysfunctional is the [death penalty] system? Since voters reinstated the death penalty nearly 40 years ago, 1,039 convicted murderers have received death sentences, but the state has executed only 13, in part because death penalty appeals take about 25 years, according to experts. During the same period, 104 condemned inmates died of natural causes, suicides or other non-execution means — and the system has cost taxpayers about $5 billion. Something clearly has to be changed. The answer, however, is not to speed up the machinery of death, but to dismantle it.” They went on: “The chief reason to abolish the death penalty in California is that it is cruel and unusual punishment, both immoral and inhumane and out of step with “evolving standards of decency” in the United States. It has little deterrent effect, by most accounts, and is administered so capriciously that it makes a mockery of the concept of equal justice. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately put to death for crimes that bring other defendants merely a long prison sentence. Indeed, whether a murderer is ultimately executed often depends less on the gravity of his offense than on whether he committed it in a particular county or a particular state or was represented by a decent lawyer. The process is open to manipulation and mistakes, yet once the appeals process is complete, miscarriages of justice can never be corrected, for obvious reasons.”

Yup. What they said. (mic drop)

Seriously, who could be in favor of the death penalty (and even speeding it up). District Attorneys. Republican Elected Officials. Police. Sheriffs. Victims. In other words, those parties that often came in with the bias and possibly dictated the miscarriage of justice in the first place. But they forget one very important face: Killing the murderer (if they are indeed guilty) does not bring their loved one back. It is biblical revenge, pure and simple. An eye for an eye. At best, it provides temporary relief; full relief is not possible.  Further, how would they feel if they speed up prosecution, execute the person who they believe is the murderer, and then discover years later that someone else was the real murderer. Would they then be a murderer, and could the family of the innocent victim of the death penalty insist on their eye for an eye. The death penalty, even if improved and reworked, is simply not the answer.

As a society, we are better than the death penalty.

Conclusion: Thumbs Up Yes on 62 fb

Proposition 63: Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.

Requires a permit
Issued by the DOJ
To purchase ammo

Summary: Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large–capacity ammunition magazines. Establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Fiscal Impact: Increased state and local court and law enforcement costs, potentially in the tens of millions of dollars annually, related to a new court process for removing firearms from prohibited persons after they are convicted.
[Websites: Yes fb | No]

Analysis: For a long time, I’ve been saying the best answer to gun control is ammo control. But a discussion with an Air Force officer on my vanpool convinced me of why that is a bad idea. If you restrict ammo sales, the criminals will go after ammunition. Where do you find large stores of ammunition? That’s right. Military bases. Suddenly, our military becomes a target. This is not good. Further, restricting ammunition sales is useless if you do it in just one state. Does this measure prohibit people from bringing in ammunition? Do our fruit and vegetable inspectors suddenly start asking about that box in your glove compartment. Similarly, having the additional laws prohibiting firearm possession do no good if something can easily come in from another state.

But those are my thoughts. Let’s see who is behind this. The Yes camp has major funding from the Democratic party and Newsom for Governor. Endorsements are major elected officials and the major newspapers in the state, as well as cities, law enforcement, medical groups, and teachers. On the No side are the NRA and … they don’t list anyone else.

So let’s see why there’s such a majority for this. The Times’ argument in favor is to “send a loud and clear message to the pro-gun lobby that California voters want more, not fewer, limits on access to firearms.” They particularly like “its requirement that people who lose their eligibility to have a firearm (due to a felony conviction, domestic violence restraining order or other legal restriction) actually get rid of them. The measure requires judges to inform those who are ineligible that they can no longer legally possess a firearm, and it directs probation officers to report to the court whether the person has sold the weapon, given it away, stored it with a firearms dealer or turned it over to an identified trustee or to law enforcement.” They also like making it mandatory that ” the attorney general submit names of newly ineligible people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Lastly, they note that “Under the initiative, if a person notices — or reasonably should have noticed — that one of his or her guns gun is missing, the lost or stolen weapon must be reported within five days.” The legislature has already seemingly imposed a check for ammunition purchases, so perhaps my concern there is moot.

The Gimlet Podcast Science Vs. had a very interesting episode on gun control. It noted that gun control, as we do it in the US, really doesn’t work. What does work is registration of all guns, and a law making the last registered owner responsible if a gun registered to them is used in a crime. Suddenly, all those lost or stolen guns were reported. Suddenly, all those guns purchased for someone else we registered under the real owner. Combine that with actual, effective, background checks, and you’ve got something. (Science Vs. also had an excellent episode looking at the statistics regarding gun use. It is well worth a listen.)

Much as I can see problems with the ammo restrictions, the other aspects of this start to make sense. Further, I can’t stomach siding with the NRA. Big Pharma is one thing. But the NRA is just a step too far.

Gun control is really only effective at the national level, and with strong registration, responsibility, and licensing requirements. None of these prohibit owning a gun. But it holds the gun owner responsible if the gun gets out of their responsible control. The second amendment talks about a well-regulated militia. This is a good way to regulate. But it must be national; it can only be national if we are to have effective gun control.

There, friends, is why I do these posts. Exploring the issue teaches me what the right answer is. In this case, it is not to get in bed with the NRA.

Conclusion: Thumbs Up Yes on 63 fb

Proposition 64: Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.

Legalizes pot!
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a billion?)

Summary: Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation. Fiscal Impact: Additional tax revenues ranging from high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually, mostly dedicated to specific purposes. Reduced criminal justice costs of tens of millions of dollars annually.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: What an election! We get to vote on guns, porn, the death penalty, and pot. Don’t tell me your vote isn’t important.

Our country is very odd when it comes to drugs. We legalize, regulate, and tax things that we know could easily kill us. Alcohol. Cigarettes. No prescription required, folks. Self-medicate away. Other drugs we sell OTC, still other drugs we require prescriptions for — including highly addictive ones like Oxycodone. But pot. Oh, that demon pot. We even restrict the ability to do research on it to find the medical compounds that would be useful (and that Big Pharma could sell). It’s that dangerous.

But it isn’t. The experience with medical marijuana has shown that if handled correctly, it’s not a problem. The experience in the states that have legalized it haven’t had large problems.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m in favor of pot smoking. Read what I wrote on the cigarette tax: anything that brings particulate matter into your lungs is bad for you. But edibles. Capsules. Fine. Research. Fine. In particular, having controls dosages is very important.

So that’s my starting point. Let’s see whose in favor of this measure? Hmmm, pizza delivery houses, groceries. Seriously, this is endorsed by all the major papers, and most minor ones. Major elected officials. A number of organizations — notably some public safety organizations. Against it is hospitals, highway patrolmen, police officers. A smattering of smaller papers, such as the Fresno and Sacramento Bees and the Bakersfield Californian. A number of smaller cities are against it. Sheriffs. Some elected officials.

As always, let’s see what the Times has to say: “Four states, starting with Colorado and Washington, have legalized adult recreational use, without major problems. Half of the states now allow medical marijuana. Canada is working on legislation to legalize adult use next year. And Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have suggested that, if elected, they wouldn’t use the federal prohibition against marijuana to undermine state legalization efforts. There has also been a huge shift in thinking on drug policy, as more people question the effect of the decades-long war on drugs on law enforcement expenditures, overcrowded prisons, marginalized communities and violent drug cartels. In the case of marijuana, there is growing support for the argument that the cost of enforcing prohibition is too great and delivers too few benefits.” Their conclusion: “It is ultimately better for public health, for law and order and for society if marijuana is a legal, regulated and controlled product for adults. Proposition 64 — while not perfect — offers a logical, pragmatic approach to legalization that also would give lawmakers and regulators the flexibility to change the law to address the inevitable unintended consequences.” The measure places reasonable restrictions, allows cities to further regulate sales, and imposes taxes.

The regulation isn’t perfect, but Proposition 64 would give the Legislature the ability to amend the marijuana industry regulations by a majority vote; other changes to the law would need a two-thirds vote. Regulatory agencies would be given the flexibility to develop rules as issues arise.

So why do the opponents dislike this? The Sacramento Bee says: “Too much of it appears commercially, rather than socially driven. It backslides from California’s leadership in the war on another product that is generally smoked – tobacco. And from stoned drivers to potent edibles that, in other states, have endangered children, it poses too many public health risks that could be headed off if we just took our time and legalized in a way that isn’t so rushed.”

In other words: fear, uncertainty, and distrust.  In fact, the Sac Bee goes on to say, “Marijuana use should not be a crime. No adult should be hassled for what he or she smokes or ingests behind closed doors, and drug abuse, in general, should be treated for what it is, a malady.”

That’s my position as well, and that really says we need to support this, finally.

Conclusion: Thumbs Up Yes on 64 fb

Proposition 65: Carry-Out Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute.

Plastic bag makers
Put this one on the ballot
To punish grocers

(See Proposition 67 on the same subject)

Summary: Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carryout bags. Requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental projects. Fiscal Impact: Potential state revenue of several tens of millions of dollars annually under certain circumstances, with the monies used to support certain environmental programs.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: This is a tricky proposition, because technically there is no organized opposition. You’ll find a slick “Yes on 65” website, but no explicit “No on 65” site. There are no lists of endorsers for the No side. So how to see both sides. Here’s what you need to do: Decide on Proposition 67 first. Proposition 67 is the key; if it doesn’t pass, there is no statewide ban on plastic bags, and no potential for a fee to be collected by grocers for bags (and thus, this is moot until such a time as a bag ban is enacted). Also note that all this applies only to places that did not already have a bag ban in effect (so for us in LA County, this is not really an issue)

I’ll wait. It’s just down a few paragraphs.

Now that’s you’ve read 67, lets assume a bag pan is passed. Where does the money collected from the bags that a grocer might sell go? By default (that is, without 65), that money goes to cover the costs of providing carryout bags, complying with the measure, and educational efforts to encourage the use of reusable bags.  If you think about it, that seems appropriate. What this measure will do is redirect said money from the grocers into a state run environmental fund.

What could be the harm in that? After all, the grocers are big, mean and bad and gouging us.

The problem is: they really aren’t. The grocery business is very competitive, and margins are low. Costs are going up (especially with the new minimum wage laws), and requiring grocers to eat the cost of any replacement bags is believed to be a problem. More specifically, the organizations sponsoring this — the plastic bag manufacturers (e.g., “American Progressive Bag Alliance, a Project of the Society of the Plastics Industry – Yes on 65 and No on 67, with Committee Contributors including Hilex Poly Co., LLC, Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A., Advanced Polybag, Inc. and Superbag”) — believe that you’ll get so confused you’ll vote No on BOTH 65 and 67, and thus not enact a ban at all. That’s their big win. They don’t care about the environment.

The “Yes on 65” lists no endorsements. Searching I could find none. At best, I found “neutral” stances. The major papers have come out against 65, and in favor of 67. About Prop 65, the LA Times writes: “the industry claims that the ban is a money-making scheme cooked up by the state’s grocers to line their pockets with the proceeds from the 10-cent paper bags. That appears to be the reasoning behind Proposition 65, which would require all fees collected for paper carryout bags to be directed to environmental programs. On the surface this measure seems to complement the environmental goals of the bag ban. But coming from the same people so desperately trying to stop the ban, the measure seems more like a cynical ploy to confuse voters or, at the very least, punish the state’s grocery stores for supporting the ban. The reality is that the fee for paper bags isn’t likely to be a windfall for stores that provide them. The California Grocers Assn. estimates that stores pay an average of 10 cents per paper bag. It seems reasonable for stores to recoup their cost when forced to collect a fee. The law also sets guidelines for how the money is used by grocers: to offset the cost of complying with the law and promoting the use of reusable grocery bags.”

I do not like it when an industry attempts to manipulate California’s electoral process to confuse and deceive. I’m not going to further their effort.

Conclusion: Thumbs Down No on 65 fb

Proposition 66: Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.

If you want the state
To execute more people
This one is for you

(See Proposition 62 on the same subject)

Summary: Changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods. Fiscal Impact: Unknown ongoing impact on state court costs for processing legal challenges to death sentences. Potential prison savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb ]

Analysis: I believe that I covered this subject (if you’ll pardon the pun) to death in my discussion of Prop. 62. I believe we should get rid of the death penalty. Even if it is retained, I’m not sure we should improve the system to execute more people. The death penalty is not the answer.

Conclusion: Thumbs Down No on 66 fb

Proposition 67: Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. Referendum.

To ban plastic bags
Vote “yes” on 67
“No” on 65

(See Proposition 65 on the same subject)

Summary: A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, a statute that prohibits grocery and other stores from providing customers single–use plastic or paper carryout bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags. Fiscal Impact: Relatively small fiscal effects on state and local governments, including a minor increase in state administrative costs and possible minor local government savings from reduced litter and waste management costs.
[Websites: Yes fb | No fb]

Analysis: The best explanation I found of why this proposition is here comes from the LA Times: “Two years ago, the Legislature passed the nation’s first statewide law forbidding most stores in the state from giving out “free” plastic carryout bags. (There’s nothing actually free about these bags. Retailers pay for them, and the cost becomes part of the overhead factored into the price of goods.) Under the law, if stores offered paper bags for carryout, they’d have to charge at least 10 cents except to certain low-income shoppers, who had to be provided the bags free of charge. It was huge victory in the struggle to turn back the tide of trash that is polluting open spaces and creating islands of plastic in our oceans. But it was distressing news to the makers of single-use plastic bags — so distressing, in fact, that four large out-of-state plastic-bag companies spent millions of dollars qualifying and campaigning for two measures on the November ballot that could undermine the ban, Propositions 67 and 65.”

Plastic is bad stuff. It is manufactured from a limited resource – petroleum. When it gets into the trash stream, it injures birds. When it gets into the ocean, it kills marine lives. When it gets pulverized by wave action, it becomes microbeads that we injest. It does not biodegrade. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: Use less plastic. Luckily, there’s an easy way to do that: Use reusable bags (we personally use Bagpodz,  which is an easy to carry pod of reusable bags). How do you encourage people to use reusables? Ban free plastic bags.

But doing so can hurt the plastic bag manufacturers, so they have fought back by manipulating California’s electoral system to confuse and obfusticate, claiming the evil grocers are doing this as a money grab, and pretending to like the environment. We’ve had a bag ban in Los Angeles County for a while now. It has not proved to be a major hassle at all. Bagpodz to the rescue!

Here’s how the LA Times puts it: “The “paper or plastic” era is, gratefully, on its way out. Over the last decade, more than 150 counties and cities in California have outlawed the flimsy, storm-drain-blocking, sea-turtle-choking, virtually immortal single-use plastic bags that grocery stores had been handing out at checkout lines like candy. Similar bans are sweeping the nation. […] Americans use about 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year, as many as 15 billion in California alone. That’s down significantly from 30 billion a year before bans began popping up in cities across the state, but it’s still too many. Environmentalists put these single-use plastic bags among the biggest sources of litter.” Bag bans work. Here’s LA County’s experience: Stores reported that after the ban went into effect in 2011, the number of paper bags used by consumers dropped precipitously, by about 40%.

The SF Chronicle’s endorsement provides more information: “Voters shouldn’t be fooled by what’s at stake. In a world doused with everlasting plastic, grocery store bags play a harmful role, winding up on beaches, parks and trees, choking fish and wildlife and even clogging recycling machines. Cutting down usage, especially when cloth or paper bags can be swapped in, makes sense. Bag makers — in this case four major out-of-state manufacturers — are clearly spooked. If California sticks with banning food-store bags, then other states will join the cause, the industry worries. Also, as consumers grow mindful of the long-term effects of plastic on the environment, the material will be scrutinized and regulated in ways that manufacturers can’t control.”

The Sacramento Bee also provides a good summary: “California’s ban came after more than 100 cities and counties passed ordinances seeking to curb plastic bag pollution. Some of the worst was in the ocean, where the flimsy sacks kill sea turtles and congeal with other debris into islands of plastic filth. Plastic bag manufacturers fought the movement, aided by grocers, who feared their narrow margins might not absorb such a big change in the way they did business. The 2014 law ended that with a compromise that let grocers charge customers a dime for paper bags, and keep the money to cover their costs. Plastic bag makers cried foul, and spent more than $3 million to put a referendum on the ballot, exercising a provision in the state constitution that allows a popular vote on a new law before it becomes effective. That referendum is Proposition 67. As a backup, however, they also spent heavily to put Proposition 65 before voters. It would redirect the grocers’ money into a new environmental fund that bag makers say would be more transparent. But without that money, the state ban would be expensive for grocers to implement in parts of the state still not covered by local measures. That’s why a “no” on 65 is important: If both measures pass and Proposition 65 gets more votes, it could supersede the existing law.”

As I wrote with Prop 65, I do not like it when an industry attempts to manipulate California’s electoral process to confuse and deceive. I’m not going to further their effort.

Conclusion: Thumbs Up Yes on 67 fb