Josh Flaum’s Personal Guide to the California Props – 2016 Edition


6 years ago, a friend of mine confessed to me that she was so frustrated with the perplexing language in the Propositions on the California ballot, that instead of trying to understand what the fudge they were all about, she was simply content not to vote. Because I believe voting is the greatest and most important power Americans have as a free people, I decided to help her out by creating a simplified ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of all the props complete with commentary. I posted it to Facebook, and to my surprise, people besides my friend seemed to find it helpful. Inasmuch as I am both a political junkie and an attention whore, I have continued to put one of these things together for every election since.

My caveat as always: This guide contains personal political bias. I urge you not to vote as I vote. Vote with your own head, and with your own heart.

But above all, please, please VOTE.

Prop 51



The Skinny: Authorizes 9 billion dollars in general obligation bonds to go towards the repair, modernization and new construction of California public schools and community colleges.

You might vote YES because:

  1. Education is important. Think of the kids. WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS???
  2. It doesn’t bother you that “general obligation bonds” is just a fancy term for “debt”.
  3. You’re sure this is the best way to get asbestos removed from schools.
  4. You think this would be a terrific way to get that new football stadium you’ve been wanting. Well, not you. The kids. WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS???
  5. You own a construction company.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You feel like California’s taken on enough debt.
  2. You don’t like the fact that this bill doesn’t guarantee how the money’s going to be spent.
  3. You have a sinking feeling this might just be a giant money grab for construction companies.
  4. You realize that if there’s still asbestos in our schools, we’re already screwed.
  5. You hate the kids. And also football.

The Money For: Education organizations, developers, construction contractors, and financial institutions. Total raised so far: 12 million dollars.

The Money Against: The artfully-named PAC known as ‘California Taxpayers and Educators Opposed to Sprawl and Developer Abuse’. Total raised so far: ZILCH.

 Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. Wait… what? BUT WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS??? Okay, let me be clear: we can all agree the kids are in serious trouble. The California public school system is in dire straits and definitely needs our help, which might explain why both Democrats and Republicans have announced their support for this bill. After all, IT’S FOR THE KIDS; coming out against it would be political suicide. But the bill itself is a poorly-written shambles. There’s nothing that guarantees equal distribution between poor and affluent school districts, and nothing to prevent the money from being squandered on sexier-but-less-education-y stuff like Olympic swimming pools and football stadiums (I’m looking at YOU, San Diego) Also, there’s the matter of cost: taxpayers will end up spending nearly DOUBLE the amount borrowed by the state, and even California’s crumbling education system could teach you that that math is terrible. Finally, in my opinion, the fact that this bill is being heavily backed by developers and construction companies is highly suspect. The more I look at it, the more it seems like it’s less about THE KIDS, and more about THE BENJAMINS.




The Skinny: There’s been a temporary law on the books since 2009 that forces private hospitals to pay a special fee that goes to funding Medi-Cal services as well as care for uninsured patients and health coverage for children. In return, every dime these hospitals pay out is matched by the federal government. This Prop would make this law permanent by amending the California constitution.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think providing health care to children and low-income families is a very nice thing to do.
  2. You like that this bill prevents the government from pilfering this money for other purposes unless we vote on it.
  3. You can’t imagine why we’d turn down 3 billion dollars a year in Federal matching funds.
  4. You find the fact that this measure doesn’t cost taxpayers any money to be a miracle on the level of bringing the dead back to life.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You don’t believe in miracles.
  2. You’re worried that hospital CEOs will use the money to pay for golf junkets and speedboats.
  3. You actually haven’t read the bill, because let’s face it, this thing is so convoluted it may as well be a spell book.
  4. You like being part of an overwhelming minority.

The Money For: Hospitals and health care organizations. Total raised so far: Over 60 million dollars.

The Money Against: Nonprofit union United Healthcare Workers West. Total raised so far: 11.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: YES. 

I’m Swinging: YES. Okay, sure, I imagine there has been some bad behavior from a few hospital execs with the keys to a billion-dollar kingdom. But this law has been on the books since 2009, and seems to be working remarkably well, which it very much needs to, inasmuch as one in every three Californians gets their health coverage through Medi-Cal. Plus, the one single healthcare union that was in opposition has since shifted its position to ‘neutral’, so I really can’t see the harm.

Prop 53



The Skinny: Requires voter approval before the state can issue revenue bonds in amounts exceeding 2 billion dollars.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You want to rein in out-of-control government spending.
  2. Given the chance, you would vote on literally EVERYTHING.
  3. You’re the kind of person that tries to fit the word ‘boondoggle’ into every sentence.
  4. You’re rich enough to build your own overpasses.
  5. You’ve never heard of Dean Cortopassi.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You’re worried that by forcing a vote for every major project, this bill would erode local control.
  2. It concerns you that this bill doesn’t provide any exemptions for emergencies and natural disasters.
  3. You like things like ‘fresh water’ and ‘highways’.
  4. It irks you when millionaires misuse the initiative process in order to disrupt important government infrastructure projects because one of them happens to bypass your 3000-acre ranch.
  5. You have heard of Dean Cortopassi.

The Money For: Dean “Dino” Cortopassi and his wife Joan. Total raised so far: Almost 6 million dollars (although “raised” is misleading since this Prop is almost entirely funded by the Cortopassi family).

The Money Against: Labor unions, native American groups, the Democratic Party, and Governor Brown’s campaign finance committee. Total raised so far: 11.6 million dollars.

 Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. On the surface, this is all about curbing state debt by giving the power back to the people. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find that this measure is likely to cost taxpayers MORE because it could force the government to seek private financing to fund future projects (which typically means higher interest rates). And honestly, if we were to require a vote for every single major government project, tons of stuff (bridge expansions, desalination plants, etc.) would get sidetracked or tied up indefinitely. But let’s forget all that for just a second. Because near as I can tell, this whole Prop only exists because some millionaire (our friend Dean) got his nips in a twist over a State Water Project that passes near his ranch. Personally, I feel like hijacking the initiative process to prevent fresh water from being delivered to Southern California because the river by his property is now “unnecessarily choked with sediment” kind of goes against the greater good.

Prop 54



The Skinny: Requires every bill to be published in print and online at least 72 hours before lawmakers can vote on it. Forces the legislature to make audiovisual recordings of every single public proceeding and post them online within 24 hours. Allows anybody to record these proceedings and use them for any legit reason.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think government needs to be more transparent.
  2. Political attack ads make your heart go pitter-pat.
  3. You don’t like it when legislators remove text from bills last-minute, only to replace it with shady, unrelated junk that benefits special interests before voting the bills into law.
  4. You’re into watching some seriously boring shit.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe this bill will increase interference from lobbyists and special interest groups.
  2. You hate that this bill is funded solely by yet another impassioned millionaire with too much time on his hands.
  3. Three days is too long to wait for your shady, unrelated junk.
  4. You’d rather watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

The Money For: Experimental physicist and millionaire Charles T. Munger, Jr. Total “raised” so far: 11 million smackers.

The Money Against: The California Democratic Party. Total raised so far: A measly 28 thousand bones.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES. 

I’m Swinging: YES. This is one of those rare cases where the meddling millionaire is actually proposing some sensible changes. The costs are minimal, and I’m all for more transparency. Yes, lobbyists will use the three-day waiting period to fiddle with our Democracy, but they do that already. This is still a welcome adjustment, if you ask me… which, if you’re reading this, you kind of are.

Prop 55



The Skinny: Adds a 12-year extension to the temporary personal income tax increases enacted by Prop 30 in 2012, which raised taxes on people who earn over $250,000 and raised the sales tax by a ¼ cent. Revenues are to be allocated to healthcare and education.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You voted YES back in 2012.
  2. You realize that schools and healthcare programs will lose 4-9 billion dollars of funding per year if you vote NO.
  3. Your idea of “temporary” is “over a decade”.
  4. You’re slowly trying to turn California into Canada.

You might vote NO because:

  1. This “temporary” measure is starting to look far less “temporary”.
  2. You want serious tax reform instead of a stop-gap measure.
  3. You’re sticking to the opinion that this 1%-3% income tax increase will eventually destroy small businesses and kill jobs even though, so far, it TOTALLY HASN’T.
  4. All these taxes are making the upkeep on your Napa Valley estate a real bear.

The Money For: Healthcare groups, teachers associations, and service employees. Total raised so far: 57 million dollars.

The Money Against: 3 dudes named Martin, Paul, and Franklin. Total raised so far: 3000 dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. But I’m not happy about it. I mean, 12 years???? That’s not an extension so much as it is a promise that these hikes are never going to go away. Plus, they’re not exactly equitable; these taxes are a much bigger burden on people making the $250,000 minimum requirement than the lucky few raking in millions. Not to mention the fact that California already has one of the highest tax rates in the nation. However, until we get some serious tax reform on the ballot, this bill will have to do. On the plus side, Prop 30 has proven to be effective. According to the State Controller’s Office , the measure has raised over 30 billion dollars since 2012. Plus, we’ve got a very tenuous 11-billion-dollar budget surplus on our hands, and this Prop is integral to maintaining it.

Prop 56



The Skinny: Increases the tax on cigarettes by $2.00 a pack, with equivalent hikes on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You don’t smoke.

You might vote NO because: 

  1. You do smoke.
  2. You think this bill is just a cash grab for special interest groups.
  3. Such a huge increase would prevent children and poor people from smoking, and that bothers you because:
    1. You are a tobacco farmer
    2. You are a tobacco lobbyist
    3. You work for a tobacco company
    4. You love cancer
    5. You are evil

The Money For: Healthcare groups, hospitals, medical and dental associations, and California’s “hedge fund king”, Tom Steyer. Total raised so far: 30 million dollars.

The Money Against: Tobacco companies. Total raised so far: 66.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. As an ex-smoker, I don’t want to preach about the benefits of quitting, but if you’ve been thinking about ditching the habit, this prop will damn well give you the motivation. Plus, it’ll raise billions in state revenue, which means, eventually, only the government of California will be able to afford to smoke.

Prop 57



The Skinny: Would make it easier to give nonviolent felons parole consideration, and would authorize sentence credits for prisoners who enter rehabilitation and education programs. Also allows judges to decide whether to try juveniles as adults.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think California’s prisons are desperately overcrowded.
  2. You like that this bill will save the state tens of millions of dollars per year.
  3. You firmly believe that none of the released prisoners will steal that money.
  4. You have renter’s insurance.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You think that this Prop is a little loosey-goosey with its definition of “violent”.
  2. You believe that this bill will facilitate the release of sex offenders, arsonists, and human traffickers.
  3. You blame the passage of similar laws for the huge rise in crime in California.
  4. You’re worried your uncle Jerry will want to sleep on your couch when he gets out.

The Money For: Governor Brown’s Ballot Measure Committee, charity groups, and The California Democratic Party. Total raised so far: 10.5 million dollars.

The Money Against: Police groups and a host of district attorneys. Total raised so far: 580 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: NO. I wish I could vote for this one. On the surface, it’s a progressive bill about prison reform, and I am a progressive person who wants prison reform. And while I like the section dealing with criminal rehabilitation, this bill’s major flaw is in the details. It omits a number of specifics, including—importantly– a definition of the word ‘nonviolent’. Here’s why this matters: only two years ago, a measure with similarly ambiguous language was voted into law in California (Prop 47). The idea was to relax the classification of a fair few nonviolent crimes from ‘felony’ to ‘misdemeanor’, with the goal of releasing people who may not have deserved the severe prison sentences they received. Well, thousands of prisoners were released, and lo and behold, violent crime has spiked almost 10% over the two years since 47’s enactment, mostly because the language of the law made it too easy to release convicts who probably shouldn’t have been released. Specifics are truly important, so while I am all for prison reform, it is with a heavy heart that I must vote NO on this one.

Prop 58



The Skinny: Back in 1998, Californians got drawn into a rash of national anti-immigration sentiment and passed Prop 227, which forced English immersion in schools (in lieu of bilingual programs). Prop 58 would effectively repeal most of that bill, thus giving power to schools as to how to teach English and to set up multi-language programs.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You believe English immersion isn’t the most effective way to teach English.
  2. You want your child to learn another language.
  3. You want your child to teach you how to ask where the restroom is in Spanish because:
  4. You are going to Barcelona, and will need to pee sometime.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You like that Prop 227 increased English test scores.
  2. You already have a hard time understanding your child, and you’re sure another language won’t make it easier.
  3. You believe some schools will stop teaching English altogether.
  4. You don’t blink an eye when people say stuff like “Prop 227 rescued California Latinos from the Spanish‐only educational ghetto.”*
  5. You are a terrified white person.

*This was almost an exact quote actually written into the actual Argument Against Proposition 58 in the actual official California Voter Information Guide.

The Money For: Teachers associations and school administrators. Total raised so far: 4.3 million dollars.

The Money Against: A Palo Alto group called ‘Keep English For The Children’. Total raised so far: NADA**.

**See what I did there?

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. As a product of a bilingual education system, experience tells me that the benefits of a multi-language curriculum outweigh the drawbacks. A study out of Toronto’s York University found that bilingual students have increased cognitive flexibility, and that learning a second language may even prevent dementia. At the very least, it improves people’s chances of finding a bathroom, and that’s enough for my YES vote.

Prop 59



The Skinny: This is a purely symbolic bill that encourages the California legislature to propose and ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the goal of overturning Citizen’s United (the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that has since choked American politics with dark money from special interests).

You might vote YES because:

  1. You believe Citizen’s United has seriously eroded our representative democracy.
  2. You think that this bill will get the ball rolling to keep big money out of politics. You also think that the Buzzfeed quiz you took a few days back that told you what kind of sandwich you are was DEAD ON.
  3. You’re convinced that proposing proposals to amend amendments is a sound strategy.
  4. You’ve never heard the term “all bark and no bite”.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe corporations are people.
  2. The thought of some California wonk tinkering with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution makes you twitchy.
  3. You get frustrated when people gum up the works with worthless laws that promise to accomplish a sum total of dick all.
  4. There isn’t a Buzzfeed quiz out there that has nailed what kind of sandwich you are.

The Money For: The Democratic Party and other people who hate Citizens United. Total raised so far: 284 thousand dollars.

The Money Against: NONE.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES, I guess. I like this measure in theory, so I’ll go for the symbolic gesture. Still, I worry that a do-nothing law like this one—whatever its intention—might diminish the significance and attention due to some of the other, more important props on the ballot, and that is troubling. So there you have it. Consider my finger wagged.

Prop 60



The Skinny: Requires porn stars to use condoms while involved in the filming of, ahem… sexy times. Also forces adult movie producers to pay for performer vaccinations and STD testing. Finally, and most importantly, it gives ANY California resident the right to sue porn stars and producers if a condom isn’t visible in every frame of a given film.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think this bill will protect adult film stars from sexually transmitted diseases.
  2. Democrats Libertarians, and Republicans oppose this measure, and this is your chance to be a true contrarian.
  3. This bill would give you an excuse to watch a LOT of porn.
  4. You already had your Condom Police badge engraved at Things Remembered.
  5. You are a lawyer.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe that what adults do legally and consensually is none of your business.
  2. You don’t like that this bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
  3. You’re certain the passage of this bill will open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits.
  4. You think this measure will drive a billion-dollar industry out of California.
  5. You’re worried that deputizing 38 million people to police the adult film industry will dramatically reduce your Internet speed.
  6. You have a latex allergy.

The Money For: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Total raised so far: 5 million dollars.

The Money Against: The entire porn industry. Total raised so far: 500 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: NO. There are laws already on the books that force adult performers to wear condoms, and the entire porn industry is pretty effectively self-regulated (most performers get tested on a regular basis). Plus, opening the doors for citizens to sue porn stars willy-nilly (tee-hee) is frankly insane, and inasmuch as these lawsuits will force performers to reveal their personal info, this bill could expose porn stars to stalkers and other dangerous folks. Most insidious is the fact that Prop 60 would literally create a cushy government position for the bill’s main proponent– president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein—and only the Legislature would be able to vote him out. This bill is a huge conflict of interest and a terrible idea for California. End of story.

Prop 61



The Skinny: Would prohibit the state of California from purchasing prescription drugs through manufacturers at a price higher than the lowest price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (which negotiates its own prices and gets big, mandatory discounts).

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think this bill will save the state millions in reduced prescription drug costs.
  2. You really want to stick it to those evil, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies.
  3. You’re positive those evil, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies can’t possibly be so evil as to gouge drug prices for war veterans.
  4. You recently sold your Honda Fit so you could afford an EpiPen two-pack.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You’re worried that this bill would increase drug prices for war veterans and reduce access to certain medicines for low-income families.
  2. You think the red tape, inevitable lawsuits, and costs to taxpayers will actually increase state prescription drug costs.
  3. It bothers you that this bill actually does nothing to regulate Big Pharma price gouging.
  4. You feel like a thousand bucks per pill is a fair price for heart meds.

The Money For: Nurses, watchdog groups, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Total raised so far: 15 million dollars.

The Money Against: Pharmaceutical companies. Total raised so far: 110 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: NEUTRAL.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. This one is tricky, and carries with it more than a few risks. Pharmaceutical companies could raise prices to offset losses, especially screwing veterans and the poor, though it’s unlikely: there are laws that protect veterans from just this sort of thing, and I find it dubious that Big Pharma would spend over 100 million dollars to fight this Prop if they thought raising prices would be a compelling solution. More realistically, drug companies will just continue to throw money at the issue and tie the state up in legal proceedings for the rest of eternity. Still, as far as protest Props go, this one has an extremely loud voice, so I’m willing to hazard a YES.

Prop 62



The Skinny: Repeals the death penalty– even retroactively to existing sentences—and replaces it with life imprisonment without parole. Would also increase the chunk of lifers’ wages that apply to victim restitution.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You have a moral objection to the death penalty.
  2. You think capital punishment is a huge waste of tax dollars.
  3. You realize there is a genuine risk of executing an innocent person.
  4. You think that killing prisoners increases the risk of prisoner ghosts coming back to take revenge on their executioners.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You have no moral objection to the death penalty.
  2. You think life imprisonment is a huge waste of tax dollars.
  3. You feel like keeping death row inmates alive puts prison guards at greater risk.
  4. You ain’t ‘fraid-a no ghosts. Not even prisoner ones.

The Money For: Social justice organizations and supporters of sentencing reform. Total raised so far: 9 million dollars.

The Money Against: Pharmaceutical companies. Total raised so far: 12.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. In the past, I have been a proponent of the death penalty, but that opinion has changed over time. I’ve learned that it’s truly an archaic solution to a complicated problem. This prop may not be perfect, but it does increase the amount of money victims will receive from the inmates that committed crimes against them, and that’s something I can get behind.

Prop 63



The Skinny: Prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. Would also require that most types of ammo be sold through licensed vendors and would take gun ownership rights away from people convicted of stealing firearms.

You might vote YES because:

  1. Your Facebook feed has been a real bummer lately.
  2. You’re tired of seeing scores of dead people every time you turn on the news.
  3. You think selling guns to violent ex-felons should require more than a one-step process.
  4. You want to lower the chances of being gunned down while getting lunch at Hot Dog On A Stick.
  5. You still haven’t figured out what to do with all those thoughts and prayers.

You might vote NO because:

  1. 2nd Amendment, 2nd Amendment, 2nd Amendment
  2. You realize this proposal will cost tens of millions in taxpayer dollars.
  3. It’s going to be so much harder to kill a million deer in one day without high-capacity rounds.
  4. ISIS! But also the 2nd
  5. Did I mention the 2nd Amendment?

The Money For: The California Democratic Party and Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsome. Total raised so far: 4.5 million dollars.

The Money Against: Gun owners, hunting associations and the NRA. Total raised so far: 867 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. This is some pretty reasonable reform, and to be honest with you, I’m starting to get fed up with listening to compassionless gun lovers shriek about their constitutional rights every time some lunatic slaughters a bunch of people at the mall. This measure isn’t a violation of the 2nd Amendment, nor is it a burden on law-abiding gun owners. It’s common sense stuff, and it’s WAY overdue.

Prop 64



The Skinny: Legalizes marijuana in the state of California, and imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Establishes standards for marijuana products.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You smoke pot.
  2. You’re thrilled by the fact that this bill will create billions of dollars in tax revenue.
  3. You own a food truck that sells artisanal doughnuts.
  4. You’ll no longer have to make the 20-minute drive to your “friend” Angel’s house.
  5. You have tons of other arguments, but for some reason, you’ve forgotten them all.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You don’t like the idea of legalizing a mood-altering, psychoactive drug, especially in the wake of a severe opioid epidemic.
  2. You’re concerned about a possible increase in drug-related crime or accidents caused by drivers under the influence.
  3. It worries you that this Prop could help lift the 45-year ban on TV smoking ads.
  4. You think this bill favors big business over smaller cannabis growers.
  5. You watched that one episode of Diff’rent Strokes where Nancy Reagan tells Arnold that her own brother attacked her after smoking a joint, and it still freaks you out to this day.

The Money For: Pro-marijuana groups, the Fund For Policy Reform, and Napster founder Sean Parker. Total raised so far: 22 million dollars.

The Money Against: The California Public Safety Institute, Teamsters, and anti-marijuana groups. Total raised so far: 2 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. Legalization has worked pretty well for Colorado: retailers made almost a billion dollars in 2015 alone, with millions garnered in taxes for the state. And whether you’re for it or against, this is going to happen eventually, so we may as well hurry up and grab that sweet tax revenue.

Prop 65



The Skinny: Ever since Californians implemented a series of plastic bag bans throughout the state, grocery stores and other retailers have been making money from the mandated sale of carryout bags. This Prop would force retailers to redirect that money into a special fund to support specific environmental projects.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You love the environment.
  2. You hate grocery stores.
  3. You failed to notice that this proposal is entirely funded by the plastic bag industry.
  4. You have a shit-ton of dimes you want to get rid of.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You have noticed that this proposal is entirely funded by the plastic bag industry.
  2. You’ve also noticed this Prop has no support from environmental groups despite its promise to help the environment.
  3. You think it’s unfair to retailers.
  4. You realize that this measure completely defeats the goal of phasing out carryout bags.
  5. You think that creating a Prop that pays for litter removal by using the money from the sale of bags that will probably end up constituting a good portion of the actual litter being removed is a like a snake eating its own tail.
  6. You own a bunch of reusable bags, you just keep forgetting to put them back in the car.

The Money For: The plastic bag industry. Total raised so far: 6 million dollars.

The Money Against: NONE.

Democrats are voting: NEUTRAL.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. This measure is infuriating. We all want to help the environment, but this whole thing was created by the plastic bag industry in order to confuse voters (Prop 67 is also bag-related), and to punish retailers for their support of an overall ban of plastic bags. And make no mistake, this would be a punishment: retailers have to pay for the bags they sell; to redirect that money means small businesses and grocery stores will be forced to take a loss selling a product that Californians are trying to phase out anyway. Also, if this Prop gets more votes than Prop 67, that means an overall ban will probably fail, which explains why environmental groups are up in arms. Finally, on a personal level, I find the plastic bag industry’s attempt to meddle with the initiative process here to be disgusting. This one’s a big NO for me, and you can take that to the bank (in a reusable tote).

Prop 66



The Skinny: Reduces the amount of time it takes to execute prisoners on death row by speeding up the appeals process and limiting petitions.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You support the death penalty.
  2. You oppose Prop 62.
  3. You think this Prop will save millions in tax dollars.
  4. You have complete faith that the system will prevent the execution of innocent people, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
  5. You are a 3000-year-old Babylonian king.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You oppose the death penalty.
  2. You support Prop 62.
  3. You think this Prop will cost millions in tax dollars.
  4. Given that it takes an average of 11.3 years for an innocent prisoner on death row to be exonerated, you think speeding up the execution process is a BAD idea.
  5. You think a lifetime of prison food is punishment enough.

The Money For: Police groups and prosecutors. Total raised so far: 13 million dollars.

The Money Against: The ACLU and a handful of millionaire altruists. Total raised so far: Also 13 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. This Prop keeps the death penalty alive, and that’s reason enough for me to oppose it.

Prop 67



The Skinny: A referendum that asks voters to approve or reject an existing statute that prohibits grocery stores and retailers from providing one-use carryout bags.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think single-use carryout bags are bad for the environment.
  2. You think this Prop will save millions in clean up costs.
  3. You sell adorable reusable totes that say stuff like “I’m tote-ally saving the world!” and “It’s wine o’clock.”

You might vote NO because:

  1. You only like to use anything once.
  2. You work for the plastic bag industry.
  3. You’re running out of ways to suffocate those pesky sea turtles.

The Money For: Grocery chains and environmental groups. Total raised so far: 3.6 million dollars.

The Money Against: The plastic bag industry. Total raised so far: 6 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. I’m all for doing away with single-use bags. They really are terrible for the environment, and these bans have been working remarkably well to correct that (a study out of San Jose shows that trash in city streets and waterways has been reduced by 60% since the enactment of a city-wide ban). Besides, I just bought an adorable reusable tote that says “Keep Calm and Carry Groceries”.

That’s it! Now you know as much as I do. TIME TO VOTE!!!!

Badge - 2008 election

Also, if you’re a ‘facts‘ type of person, here are the references I used to put this together:,_Public_School_Facility_Bonds_(2016),_Voter_Approval_to_Divert_Hospital_Fee_Revenue_Dedicated_to_Medi-Cal_(2016),_Jr.


About Josh Flaum

Occasionally, I will buy a shirt with horizontal stripes and have immediate regrets.

19 responses to “Josh Flaum’s Personal Guide to the California Props – 2016 Edition”

  1. Benjamin says :

    Thanks for your hard work and good humor Josh.
    Very much appreciated! You’re a good man.

  2. Benjamin says :

    Thanks for your hard work and good humor on this! Very much appreciated!

  3. Anonymous says :

    Thank you so much for this. This was so funny and yet so informative. Very helpful:)

  4. Anonymous says :

    Thanks for doing all of the work that none of us want t do, Josh! I hope my daughter turns out more like you and less like me in this aspect.


  5. Kelly says :

    Thank you so much for doing this! I found it really helpful. And, yes, I will share it!

  6. Kat the Practical Mom says :

    This is really wonderful. Thank you for helping me adult better.

  7. Carmie Daily Rehor says :

    Thanks so much! Very helpful!!

  8. Maryam says :

    Thank you for doing so much research and being so balanced with your information! It made it so much easier to do my own research, and make the most informed decisions as possible on this year’s ballot measures.

  9. Lauren says :

    Thank you so much. Informed and amused.

  10. Mai de Jesus Molina says :

    I really apreciate all your help. You put all the posible ways to thing about it and with an open heart we can chose the best for our country.

  11. Tim Powell says :

    Thank you so much! I count on you every election.

    We usually agree somewhere in the high 90’s.

    Thanks for all the research!


    Tim Powell via my iPhone 4080 Veselich Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90039 310-490-6521 @timpowell_LA


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