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May 25, 2010 > State Propositions

State Propositions

The June 8, 2010 election has five state propositions. Each requires a majority vote (more than 50 percent) to become law. The State Legislature placed Propositions 13, 14, and 15 on the ballot. Supporters of Propositions 16 and 17 collected enough signatures to place the "initiatives" on the ballot.

Proposition 13 Property Taxes & Earthquake Safety (constitutional amendment)
Property taxes are based on a property's assessed value which is determined at the time of purchase. Thereafter, annual property tax increases are limited to 2 percent, as per Prop. 13 which voters approved in 1978. A new assessed value and, therefore, new property taxes arise on selling the property. If the property is improved, it may also be subject to reassessment.

Changes to Prop. 13 have excluded certain upgrades from triggering a reassessment. Two exclusions concerning earthquake safety will be combined into one; a property that undergoes earthquake-safety improvements will be reassessed on sale.

Proposition 14 Primary Elections (constitutional amendment)
California voters elect state and federal officials in a two-step process. Each party chooses a candidate for each office in June's primary election. The electorate then decides between the winning candidates (one for each party) from the Primary in November's general election.

At the moment, all voters receive the general election ballot. For the primary, party-registered voters receive a ballot with their party's candidates. Independent voters (decline to state) receive a ballot with candidates for non-partisan offices. Some parties allow independent voters to request their party's ballot in the primary and others do not.

Prop. 14 would introduce a new election process for state-wide offices such as Governor, congressional and legislative representatives. In the primary, voters would receive the same ballot with all the candidates and may choose any one for each office, regardless of party. The general election ballot would list only the top two candidates who received the most votes for each office in the primary, even if both belong to the same party.

The primary election process for President and political party committee members would be unaffected.

Proposition 15 Public Funding of Campaigns
State law prohibits the use of public funds for political campaigns. Candidates must raise campaign funds. The California Secretary of State not only oversees elections, it monitors lobbyists' activities.

Prop. 15 would allow public funding of campaigns and create a temporary program to evaluate public funding of the campaigns for Secretary of State in the 2014 and 2018 elections. Participating candidates must agree to spending limits and guidelines. The program will be funded by increasing the fees paid by lobbyists from $25 to $700 every two years.

Proposition 16 Local Public Electricity (initiative; constitutional amendment)
Corporations, such as PG&E, and publicly-owned utilities, such as Sacramento Municipal Utility District, supply most Californians with their electricity.

A city or county's decision to establish its own electric service, alone or together, or to contract with a provider that is not a corporate utility does not require voter approval; nor does a publicly-owned utility's expansion.

Prop. 16 would require two-thirds voter-approval for a local jurisdiction to use public funds to start supplying electricity, contract for it or expand service to new areas. If the energy source is wind or solar or the sole customer is the local government, voter-approval is not needed.

Proposition 17 Auto Insurance (initiative)
Insurance companies' rates are determined by rules introduced by Prop. 103, approved by voters in 1988. Auto insurance rates are based primarily on the insured's safety record, annual mileage and how long that person has been a driver. Rates are not influenced by gaps in auto insurance coverage.

Prop. 17 would allow insurers' rates to reflect a motorist's record of continuous auto insurance with a discount. Insurance companies may be allowed to increase rates for motorists with gaps in their coverage.

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