Web Editor:Mike Eng
Have you decided how you are voting on the 17 statewide ballot measures? That was the question posed to me by a Political Science professor who asked me to speak to a college assembly of students who wanted to know why millennials should be concerned about voting (some for the first time) in this year's Presidential election. if you want to read a newspaper article about our event at Rio Hondo College this past week, please CLICK HERE.
Naturally, students (and the rest of the population) were initially interested in the Trump vs. Clinton part of the ballot; but that's only a fraction of the subject matter. In addition, school boards, water boards, city councils and county boards of supervisors have also added local concerns on transportation, school construction bonds and many other issues to the ballot. Add to these the candidates running for federal, state, and local office and you have possibly the longest ballot in recent memory.
So what are the "hottest" ballot measures that my constituents (of all ages) have sounded off about? Here's my Top Ten list based on the results of an informal, unscientific poll that I have been taking and some of the concerns about each measure.
Marijuana Legalization (Prop 64): legalizes marijuana and hemp; taxes marijuana (except for medical purposes); would like raise state and local revenues from reduced criminal prosecution and increased taxes. Millennials I talked to overwhelmingly FAVOR Prop 64. Some baby boomers have questions and mixed reactions such as whether somehow drug abuse might increase.
Repeal The Death Penalty and institute life without the parole option (Prop 62) vs. Speed Up the Death Penalty Process (Prop 66). Millennials I spoke with favor Prop 62 saying they feel that that minorities are unfairly treated and that recent DNA revelations make them apprehensive that a wrong person could be executed while some older adults (60 years old plus) expressed vulnerability to violent crime as they grow older and therefore still cling to the hope that the death penalty is a deterrent and therefore believe that at least it promotes a feeling of being more safe.
$2 Increase Per Pack to Existing Cigarette Tax to raise funds for healthcare and tobacco cessation and research (Prop 56). Millennials and just about everyone else I spoke with seem to support this measure.
Ban high capacity gun magazines and require background checks to purchase ammunition (Prop 63). Like Prop 56, this measure seems to have universal appeal at least to those constituents that regularly interact with me on education issues.
Repeal the Ban on Bilingual Education (Prop 58). Hard to believe that in 1998 voters mandated that only English be used to teach students, hence the ban on so-called “bilingual education”. I have yet to find anyone that is not in favor of this ballot measure and most (especially teachers) couldn’t believe it’s still the law of California.
Overturn the Ban on Single Use Plastic Bags (Prop 67) and Redirect the “bag fees” to be used for environmental programs instead of being retained by the supermarkets. (Prop 65). Both millennials and others expressed confusion over the wording of the ballot measures (a “yes” is required to continue the ban) and skepticism that the plastic bag industry is acting in the best interests of the public, but in agreement that redirecting money to environmental programs seems to be a good use of the money.
Earlier Release for Non Violent Offenders and more leeway for juveniles not be tried as adults (Prop 57). Millennials I spoke with felt that this would address the problem of “crowded jails”; all others felt that too many offenders are already being released into the community and the sense is that “crime is up” everywhere so the timing is not good; although many are troubled that we seem to be “spending more money on incarceration and not enough on education”.
Extend the tax on the $250,000 per year tax payers to maintain funding for education and healthcare (Prop 55). Most millennials as well as baby boomers that I spoke with were only vaguely aware of this measure but almost 100% of elected officials representing K-12 schools and community colleges voiced strong concern that if Prop 55 fails to pass, there will be massive budget holes that will be felt almost instantaneously.
Millennials now constitute a larger voting bloc than baby-boomers. The question is whether they will make use of their new-found powers.
Photo：Mike Eng is on the stage at a "general assembly" with some of the students present who were interested in how ballot measures and the November election would affect students, at Wray Theater, Rio Hondo College in the San Gabriel Valley last week.