[CN] – California’s swollen November voter pamphlet will soon be heading to voters, as judges have finished vetting and amending the official arguments for and against the 17 ballot propositions.
Advocates and opponents filed a wave of lawsuits after the state released a rough draft of the voter pamphlet on July 26. The proposals would, among other things, legalize recreational marijuana, drastically increase tobacco taxes, and force adult film actors to wear condoms.
Nine lawsuits have been filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, forcing judges to sift through allegedly “misleading” official arguments submitted by interest groups and elected officials by Monday’s filing deadline.
Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana, has pitted powerful Silicon Valley figures and lawmakers against law enforcement groups.
Lined by the deep pockets of former Facebook president Sean Parker and the political sway of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, proponents of Prop. 64 want to tax marijuana sales and stop sending people to prison for selling and smoking pot.
Filing on behalf of the Yes on Proposition 64 campaign, Graham Boyd accused the marijuana opponents of submitting false arguments that will be sent to every California household before the November election. He claimed that Sen. Diane Feinstein and others were exaggerating Prop. 64’s potential to allow marijuana to be marketed to children through television advertisements.
Feinstein co-authored a ballot argument stating that the initiative “allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers,” and another statement proclaims that Prop. 64 “rolls back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV.”
Three lawsuits regarding Prop. 64 arguments were filed, two by supporters and one by opponents.
During an emergency election matter hearing on Friday, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang filtered through the Prop. 64 lawsuits. She ordered 10 minor changes to the voter pamphlet, granting and denying in part some of the requested changes from both sides.
Chang changed Feinstein’s argument, settling for the more ambiguous phrase “could roll back total prohibition of smoking ads on TV,” and noted that marijuana ads “could be allowed” during primetime television.
Both sides claimed victory after Friday’s late ruling, each taking a rosy view of Chang’s order.
“Six of the opposition’s most egregious ballot statements were challenged in court,” said Jason Kinney, a Yes on Prop. 64 campaign spokesman. “All six of those statements were explicitly ruled ‘false and misleading’ by the judge and specifically modified. By comparison, several of the opponent’s responses were either rejected or significantly weakened.”
Wayne Johnson, spokesman for the opposition, said Chang’s order confirms Feinstein’s argument that marijuana will likely be marketed to children.
“The ruling today was clear: Marijuana ads could be on broadcast television if Prop. 64 passes, ads that could be seen by children,” Johnson said in a statement.
Another batch of lawsuits pitted a former porn actor against current actors in a skirmish over mandatory condom use in the Golden State’s multibillion-dollar pornography industry.
Modeled after a Los Angeles County law, Prop. 60 would force porn actors to wear condoms while filming, to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted disease, particularly HIV. Porn studios and actors could be fined for health violations and be liable in civil lawsuits if Prop. 60 is passed.
In his lawsuit, former actor Derrick Burts, who says he contracted HIV from another performer in 2010, accused state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and two current porn stars of lying on their arguments against Prop. 60. He blasted the opponents’ statements that the measure “weakens safety standards,” and said they cited false information about Prop. 60’s estimated fiscal impact.
After allowing testimony from porn star and real party in interest Rachel “Chanel Preston” Taylor, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley agreed that some of the opponents’ arguments were speculative and needed to be amended.
“Nothing in the measure weakens safety standards. The opponents are free to argue that adoption of the measure will weaken workplace safety, but they may not falsely argue that the measure will weaken safety standards,” Frawley wrote in the Aug. 10 order.
Frawley also found that the Prop. 60 critics used an old and inflated estimate from the legislative analyst regarding Prop. 60’s tax impact and that their arguments should be updated to include the latest figure.
In total, Frawley ordered elections officials to edit six of the opposing arguments and to correct the 50-word summary argument against Prop. 60.
His changes to the opposing statements include removing “tens of millions” to “millions of dollars” regarding the potential taxpayer cost, and he watered down the opposition’s claims that everyone involved in the porn industry would be subject to civil lawsuits.
Burts’ attorney Bradley Hertz said he was “extremely pleased with the outcome,” and that it is important to have accurate ballot descriptions during an election loaded with the most statewide propositions since 2000.
“As a result of the ruling, voters will be given a much better and accurate accounting of what Prop. 60 is actually about,” Hertz said in a telephone interview.
Proposition campaigns have transformed the excitement and interest in the November election into a fund-raising bonanza. According to campaign finance reports, nearly $200 million has been raised in support or opposition to the 17 proposals since January.
One of the largest spenders has been the tobacco industry. Big tobacco has spent more than $35 million against Prop. 56, which would raise taxes on cigarettes by $2 a pack.
The pharmaceutical industry, though, has outspent every other interest group by a wide margin, combining to contribute more than $50 million against Prop. 61. The measure would cap the amount state agencies can pay for prescription drugs and align them with prices paid by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Judges were hurrying last week to rule on the elections matters before Monday’s legislative deadline. The public inspection period ended Monday and voters can no longer dispute the official arguments submitted on the 17 propositions.
Each voter pamphlet will include two short arguments, in favor of and against the proposals. The recent court-ordered changes are now reflected on the Secretary of State’s website and the printed guides will be delivered beginning Sept. 29.
The Republican and Democratic conventions sparked a jump in voter registration in July. More than 85,000 people registered to vote online during the conventions, most of them Californians ages 17 to 25.
The Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors announced the leadership team of the newly formed Probation Oversight Commission who will be tasked to lead efforts to monitor the Probation Department’s progress on systemic reform.
The Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons will host a virtual Open House on Wednesday, April 28 to help those interested in advancing their careers by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
The Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, coordinated by the Department of Arts and Culture, and KCET have joined forces to create a new documentary that explores the value of arts education for the youth, communities, and creative economy of L.A. County.
The Santa Clarita Valley League of Women Voters, partnering with College of the Canyons Center for Civic Engagement and its Engage the Vote Student Action Team, is sponsoring a virtual, “Conversation with Mayor Bill Miranda,” on Monday, April 19, from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 57 new deaths and 411 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, as the county prepares to expand vaccination eligibility to residents 16 and older on Thursday.
California public health officials this week lifted capacity limits on in-person services at places of worship from the state's reopening scheme, following a handful of Supreme Court decisions in favor of congregants challenging the state’s COVID-19 capacity limits.
The Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday night approved one-time funding of $100,000 for the relocation of Bridge to Home shelter services for people experiencing homelessness, and an additional loan not to exceed $110,000.
California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts, is leasing space at Newhall Crossings in Downtown Newhall to put its students’ artwork on display, officials with the Valencia arts college announced recently.
The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital expansion plan, following a public hearing with protest from members of a local carpenters union and calls by community members to include a mental health care unit for children.
California Senate Bill 546, a measure to extend the state's "iFoster" cell phones and data program for foster youth, has passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee with unanimous support, according to Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).
College of the Canyons athletic programs returned to campus this week to begin outdoor team strength and conditioning activities, guided by a stringent return-to-campus procedural plan designed to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and support staff.
If you watched NASA’s exciting Mars Perseverance rover landing on Feb. 18, you definitely won’t want to miss the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus spring 2021 virtual Star Party on Friday, April 23.
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