Pete Rates the Propositions
Sensible opinions on the California ballot propositions      since 1980      by Pete Stahl

Read the ratings:
Prop.   1 - YES
Prop. 26 - NO
Prop. 27 - NO
Prop. 28 - NO
Prop. 29 - NO
Prop. 30 - YES
Prop. 31 - YES
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Best of
Pete Rates the Propositions

Welcome to my “Best Of” section. Here you'll find my favorite ratings from the past couple decades. I've divided these into four categories:

Compelling arguments
on important issues

Quixotic crusades
& lost causes

Humorous takes
on laughing matters



Compelling arguments
on important issues
Prop. 34
Nov. 2012
Repeal of the Death Penalty - Yes
California's death penalty is ineffective, error-prone, discriminatory, outrageously expensive, barbaric, and agonizing for victims' families as they wait through endless delays. It is time for it to go.
Prop. 1A
Nov. 2008
High-Speed Rail Bonds ($10 billion) - Yes
Our competitors around the globe, from Japan and China to France and Spain, have high-speed rail. Should we join them, or should we pretend that our highway system will be adequate in the mid-21st century?
Prop. 71
Nov. 2004
$3 Billion Stem Cell Research Bonds - Yes
The amount of money is staggering, and the eventual payoff is by no means certain. Yet turning down the chance to make life better for billions of people worldwide would be a huge mistake.
Prop. 49
Nov. 2002
Giving Top Funding Priority to After-School Programs - No
Look, people, there’s a distinction between “beneficial” and “untouchably sacred.” I’m asking you to make that distinction right now.
Prop. 38
Nov. 2000
School Vouchers - No
Prop 38 claims it will solve horrific problems in our failing public schools with its radical plan. Unfortunately the plan addresses virtually none of the cited problems. Instead, it will cause drastic changes and turmoil in all schools, even the best ones.
Prop. 21
Mar. 2000
Juvenile Crime Crackdown - No
Juvenile offenders have the greatest chance of being rehabilitated. Mistreating them, as Prop 21 would do, will only lead to more shattered lives, more despair, and ultimately a reversal of the current decrease in violent crime.
Prop. 223
Jun. 1998
Capping School District Administration Budgets ("95/5") - No
Prop 223 is so poorly crafted that it will give school districts powerful incentives to waste enormous sums of money on stupid tricks designed to bring their budgets under the 5% cap.
Prop. 223
Nov. 1996
Prevention of Suits by Drunk and Uninsured Drivers - No
Look closely: drunk and uninsured drivers are prevented from suing. Drunk drivers I can understand. But whether a driver is insured has nothing to do with fault in an accident.
Prop. 194
Mar. 1996
Denial of Unemployment Benefits for Released Working Prisoners - No
Yes, it's a shame that employers of prison inmates pay too much for unemployment insurance. But this would give employers an undeserved windfall while compromising everybody's safety.
Quixotic crusades
& lost causes
Prop. 45
Nov. 2014
Requiring Approval of Health Insurance Rate Changes - Yes
For-profit health insurance corporations are fundamentally immoral. They purport to serve the public interest, but shareholders demand maximum profits. To prevent gouging, we must empower the Insurance Commissioner to reject excessive rates.
Prop. 35
Nov. 2012
Increase Penalties for Human Trafficking - No
Human trafficking is a terrible crime. Thankfully it's already illegal. Are the penalties severe enough? I don't know, and you don't either. Let the Legislature decide. Prop 35 is a just vanity bill by an aspiring politician.
Prop. 29
June 2012
Tobacco Tax to fund Cancer Research - Yes
Despite the permanent commitment of so much public money to an unnecessary program, Prop 29 will greatly reduce teen smoking and public health costs. The Legislature won't act, so we voters must.
Prop. 1A
Nov. 2006
Earmarking Sales Tax on Gasoline for Transportation - No
If we divert the sales tax on gasoline to transportation projects, as Prop 42 requires, perhaps we also ought to divert the sales tax on running shoes to sports facilities, and the sales tax on electronic equipment to building Internet infrastructure. You can see where I'm going with this.
Prop. 62
Nov. 2004
Elimination of Partisan Elections - Yes
Partisan primaries aren’t about who’s the better candidate for California, but rather who’s the more loyal party member. Let's give moderate candidates a shot at winning. Do the math: This proposal works.
Prop. 22
Mar. 2000
Defining Marriage as Man + Woman Only - No
It wasn’t long ago that interracial marriage was illegal in many places. Surely the same arguments were used then as now. If you’re leaning in favor of 22, read the arguments for it while substituting “black and white” for “two men or two women.” You’ll see my point.
Prop. 1
Nov. 1998
Reassessment Exemption for Contaminated Property - No
The size of your property tax bill depends more on how long you’ve owned your property than how much it’s really worth. It’s sort of like paying income tax based on how long you’ve had your current job instead of how much money you make. It’s ridiculous.
Prop. 222
Jun. 1998
Elimination of Work and Education Credits for Second Degree Murderers - No
You must be able to imagine some inmate who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, has already served twelve years, and has demonstrated rehabilitation. Wouldn't you want the parole board to have the latitude to parole this person two years early?
Prop. 209
Nov. 1996
Elimination of Affirmative Action (CCRI) - No
Given that it can be applied only as a remedy, that set-asides are illegal, and that contractor goals are not firm, affirmative action doesn't seem as diabolical as it has been portrayed. But is it necessary at all? Absolutely.
Humorous takes
on laughing matters
Prop. 64
Nov. 2016
Legalize Recreational Marijuana - Yes
Taxes on pot shops will generate, well, uh, nobody knows exactly how much money for Uncle Sam. Let's go with the Legislative Analyst's wild guess of $1 billion. Or $1 kazillion. Whatever. That billion will be spent like this: All on Doritos! Okay, just kidding. Heh.
Prop. 22
Nov. 2010
State to Keep Its Paws Off Local Budgets - No
The battle got off to a rollicking start in 2009-10, when the General Fund intercepted $2 billion in property tax revenue intended for local redevelopment agencies, and lateraled it to local schools, who ran it in for a score.
Prop. 11
Nov. 2008
Redistricting Commission - Yes
Simon, Paula and Randy choose three tribes of survivors. Then the Legislative leaders, pretending to be Donald Trump, gleefully fire two survivors apiece from each tribe. At this point the producer returns and presents long-stemmed roses to three Democrats, three Republicans, and two Neithers. These eight become the first Commissioners.

Feb. 2008
Indian Gaming Compacts - No
If it’s fine to close the budget gap partially by legalizing, franchising, and taxing one “victimless” activity, wouldn’t it be better to close it completely with more? We could legalize prostitution, grant a franchise to the Police Athletic League, and direct 35% of the profits into the General Fund. It would be worth billions!
Prop. 76
Nov. 2005
Limits on State Spending - No
“Captain! Look on the view-screen! There’s an enormous robot running amok! It has huge escalator claws, and has already ripped up nearly half the state budget! I can just make out its identification: PROP-98.” “I know how to handle this, Yeoman. We’ll send an even bigger robot to destroy the first one!”
Prop. 43
Mar. 2002
Right to Have Your Vote Counted - Yes
So I’m, like, “Huh? Don’t they already have to count our ballots? I’m, like, totally confused.” But then I’m like, “Duh, remember that election in Florida, with, uh, Kate Bush and Leslie Gore, aren’t they singers? And that guy Chad from the Charlie’s Angels movie?”
Prop. 20
Mar. 2000
Earmarking Lottery Funds for Textbooks - No
Ladies and Gentlemen! Step right this way! Presenting the Amazing Useless Proposition! Gawk as this Freak of Democracy does Nothing at All! Gasp as it Merely Pours Money from One Pot into Another! Cringe at the thought of its Unintended Long-Term Consequences! Marvel at its Unamendable Permanence! Hurry, hurry, hurry!
Prop. 11
Nov. 1998
Sales Tax Revenue Sharing - Yes
Wal-Mart has made it known they'd like to plop a new shopping mall in one of the twin cities. One city "wins" by offering a 110% sales tax refund, free sewer and garbage services, a 17-lane freeway to the new mall, and a city-subsidized mansion for the store manager.
Prop. 219
Jun. 1998
Uniform Application of Ballot Propositions - Yes
Putrid Prop 172 imposed a tax increase statewide, but malodorously distributed the proceeds only to those counties where a majority had voted for it. Prop 219 will outlaw such stinky tactics by requiring propositions to apply uniformly across the area voting on them.
Prop. 18
Nov. 2020
Allow 17½-Year-Olds to Vote in Primaries – Yes
after Oscar Hammerstein II
Prop. 7
Nov. 2018
Daylight Saving Time – YES
after Joyce Kilmer
Prop. 69
June 2018
Earmark Transportation Improvement Fee – Yes
after Lin-Manuel Miranda
Prop. 54
Nov. 2016
72-hour Legislation Review Period – YES
after George Harrison
Prop. 48
Nov. 2014
Indian Gaming Compacts: North Fork & Wiyot – Yes
after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Prop. 40
Nov. 2012
Reaffirm State Senate Districts – Yes
after T. S. Eliot
Prop. 26
Nov. 2010
Two-Thirds Vote to Impose Fees – No
after Carl Sandburg
Prop. 17
June 2010
Mercury Insurance's Law – No
after Robert Frost
Prop. 1C
May 2009
Borrowing Against Future Lottery Receipts – No
after Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Prop. 10
Nov. 2008
Prius Rebate and Renewable Energy Bonds ($5 billion) - No
after William Blake
Prop. 99
Jun. 2008
Restriction on the Use of Eminent Domain - Yes
after Masaoka Shiki
Prop. 1D
Nov. 2006
School & University Construction Bonds ($10 billion) - Yes
after Rudyard Kipling
Prop. 78
Nov. 2005
Prescription Drugs: The Industry's Proposal - No
after Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Prop. 70
Nov. 2004
Tribal Gaming: Agua Caliente Band's Scheme - No
after Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Prop. 48
Nov. 2002
Finalizing Elimination of Municipal Courts - Yes
after William Shakespeare
Prop. 44
Mar. 2002
Chiropractor Discipline - Yes
after W. S. Gilbert
Prop. 39
Nov. 2000
55% Vote for School Bonds - Yes
after Lewis Carroll
Prop. 27
Mar. 2000
Congressional Term Limit Pledges - No
after Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Prop. 225
Jun. 1998
Congressional Term Limit Pantomime - No
after Edward Lear
Prop. 183
Nov. 1994
Combining Recall Elections with General Elections - Yes
after Longfellow (sort of)
Prop. 173
Nov. 1993
Use of Existing Bonds to Assist First-Time Home Buyers - Yes
after Edgar Allan Poe
Prop. 163
Nov. 1992
Repeal of the Snack Tax - Yes
after Dr. Seuss, or perhaps Eminem


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