Propositions 28 and 29—appearing on the June 5 primary ballot—have been criticized and supported across the Golden State.
Here’s a breakdown.
Proposition 28 would reduce the number of years a lawmaker can serve in the state Legislature from 14 years to 12. However, it allows lawmakers to serve a combined 12 years in the Assembly or Senate instead of the two four-year Senate terms or three two-year Assembly terms to which they are currently limited.
Who’s supporting it: California League of Women Voters, California Chamber of Commerce, the California Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association. The main argument is that it allows lawmakers to become knowledgeable by allowing each to serve in the Senate or Assembly for 12 years each rather than eight and six.
Who’s opposing it: California Tea Party Groups, the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition and U.S. Term Limits. Jon Fleischman, vice chairman of the state Republican Party, has also been critical of the initiative. Critics have said the initiative is misleading as it reduces the overall time a lawmaker spends in state office.
What an expert says: San Diego State University political scientist James Ingram said the initiative allows lawmakers to develop an “institutional memory” rather than step through a “revolving door.”
“It does make the amount of time in one house longer as opposed to spreading it across two houses,” he said. Of course the federal level, where there aren’t term limits, shows that it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do a good job.”
Though political parties have taken a stance on the initiative, not every term limits initiative has had a long-term benefit for one particular party, Ingram says.
He said partisan connections have existed from the first argument for term limits although they don’t always have a positive impact for one party in the long-term.
Ingram cites the example of term limits that allowed Republican Curt Pringle to become the first speaker of the Assembly although Democrats eventually regained control of the Legislature.
Proposition 29 would increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $1. The estimated $735 million revenue would be used for cancer and smoking research as well as tobacco law enforcement.
Who’s supporting it: American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society, saying it would create a healthier and safer state.
Who’s opposing it: Tobacco companies R. J. Reynolds and Philip Morris oppose the initiative along with organizations like California Taxpayers Association and the California Retailers Association.
What an expert says: UC San Diego political scientist Thad Kousser said this can be seen as a “regressive tax” though California’s tax on cigarettes is less than those across the country. In fact, he said such laws are common in the United States.
Kousser also said proponents will have a tough time finding support
“In California, we’ve seen voters approve taxes that are earmarked and go toward feel-good purposes,” he said. “But this is not a recipe for guaranteed success—this initiative has a tough task because there are more people against it.”