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Our View: Props. 33, 35, 40 analyzed

Posted: September 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

This is one of a series of editiorals on propositions on the November ballot.

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance. NO

If Proposition 33 sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very familiar. In June 2010, it was put before the voters as Proposition 17. It failed then and it should fail now. In 2010, it was seen as a self-serving measure put before voters by Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph. Mercury is back as the main funder of Prop. 33 and it still appears to be a self-serving move for the company to get more business – at the expense of certain classes of drivers.

The measure would change rules set forth by Proposition 103 in 1988 in which insurers are allowed to give discounts to customers based on how long they’ve had insurance with that company. Prop. 33 would allow insurers to give discounts to new customers based upon how long that customer has been covered by other insurers. But it would also allow higher rates for drivers who are the least likely to afford it – drivers who had gone without insurance for 90 days or more in the past five years. Exceptions would be made for those on active military duty or those who had been unemployed for up to 18 months.

This is terribly unfair. People go without  car insurance for many different reasons that have nothing to do with whether they are a risk or not. They may have just decided to use public transit for a period of time or have not been working.

Using the rationale behind Prop. 33, discounts would be available to bad drivers as well as good ones. And it seems that drivers who would otherwise be penalized for not having insurance for more than 90 days under the proposition may be encouraged to drive without it.

This proposition just doesn’t make sense.

Proposition 35: Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act. NO

Proposition 35 would increase prison terms for human traffickers – either for sex or labor purposes, require them to register as sex offenders, levy criminal fines up to $1.5 million to pay for victim services and law enforcement, require offenders to disclose their Internet accounts and identities they use in online activities, prohibit evidence that the victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against the victim in court proceedings, and mandates human trafficking training for police officers.

While this proposal may seem well-intentioned, we don’t believe it is well thought out enough to be broadly effective. Human trafficking is not defined in the proposition and as such may be too broad, sweeping people into a net the act may never have intended. It is unclear how the state probation departments would manage to ensure offenders provide access to all of their Internet accounts, let alone that the offender has provided all their Internet identities - not to mention how the state would monitor that no new accounts or identities are set up. While increasing prison terms may have some deterrent effect, more than likely it will be marginal. Analysis by the Legislative Analyst concludes existing state law already contains similar criminal prohibitions against human trafficking and notes that these cases are more often prosecuted under federal law in part because these types of crimes often involve multiple jurisdictions. The analysis finds that there would be some increase to state and local criminal justice costs of perhaps $2 million annually; and that counties and cities could incur costs up to a few million dollars on a one-time basis initially to train all existing staff. While these costs are not exorbitant, the analysis did not find the program would generate more than a few million dollars annually – of which only 30 percent would go to law enforcement and prosecution agencies in the jurisdiction.

In short, passage of this proposition could increase costs for city, county and state authorities without stopping or significantly reducing human trafficking.

Proposition 35 is lacking in some definition.

Proposition 40 Redistricting. State Senate Districts. YES

This is a moot point. It’s a measure originally proposed by Republicans disgruntled with the state Senate lines drawn up by the Citizens Commission on Redistricting. Due to a court order upholding the district lines, the Republicans have since withdrawn their opposition to the commission’s Senate boundaries. A “yes” vote on the referendum means support of the existing district lines; a “no” vote is a vote to overturn district lines. There is no alternative plan for district lines if “no” carries.


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