Ammiano: No marijuana legalization bill in 2014

With two marijuana legalization ballot measures already seeking petition signatures and two more under review by the state attorney general, a lawmaker who’s been a longtime legalization supporter says this isn’t the right year for California to take the plunge. (See update below.)

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, believes the Golden State’s lawmakers should watch, wait and learn from the experiences of Washington and Colorado, which already have legalized marijuana. Meanwhile, he said, he’ll carry a bill again to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana so patients have a safe supply.

Here’s his full statement:

Tom Ammiano“It’s clear to me – as we work to pass smart marijuana laws – that momentum is growing. If the critical mass has not been reached, it looks very close when the President of the United States recognizes the negative effects of our excessive laws against cannabis, as he did in his recent New Yorker interview. We can’t afford to spend these resources when the only result is the loss of so much human potential. As President Obama suggested, we can’t afford a system that disproportionately falls on the poor.

“Another sign of momentum: the recent California legislative analyst’s evaluation of two marijuana legalization initiatives showing that they would save tens of millions of dollars and generate significant revenues. Although my focus has been on medical cannabis for those who need it, I have always been a supporter of legalization. Some have suggested we have to see what happens with legalization in Washington and Colorado before we act.

“No. We already know that what we’re doing here in California is not working. We can’t perpetuate problems while we wait. Let’s watch Washington and Colorado, but we have to keep California moving ahead.

“This year, I will again have legislation to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana. Nearly two decades after voters legalized cannabis for those who have a medical need, we still see a chaotic environment of prosecutions, threats and confusing court decisions. Having lived through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic, I have seen what a lifesaver cannabis can be for those who are sick.

“We need to have a regulatory structure to make sure that patients have a safe supply, free of criminal influence. We also need this to ensure that growers are environmentally responsible, and to make sure that medical recommendations are based on real needs, not some doctor’s profit motive.

“I will continue to work with all responsible parties to make sure this is the best bill we can offer and one that we will pass this year. This is the time to strike.”

UPDATE @ 12:26 P.M. WEDNESDAY: I misunderstood Ammiano’s intent. Spokesman Carlos Alcala says Ammiano “supports legalization, and thinks it is time, but does not see that as an option in the Legislature. He is focused on medical marijuana regulation in the Legislature.”


Prop numbers assigned to November’s measures

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen today assigned proposition numbers to the 11 measures set to appear on the November 6 ballot:

    Proposition 30 – Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. (Jerry Brown’s tax measure) Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
    Proposition 31 – State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
    Proposition 32 – Prohibits Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Prohibitions on Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 33 – Changes Law to Allow Auto Insurance Companies to Set Prices Based on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 34 – Death Penalty Repeal. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 35 – Human Trafficking. Penalties. Sex Offender Registration. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 36 – Three Strikes Law. Sentencing for Repeat Felony Offenders. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 37 – Genetically Engineered Foods. Mandatory Labeling. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 38 – Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs. (Molly Munger’s tax measure) Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 39 – Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.
    Proposition 40 – Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.

Lots of last-minute campaign contributions

Money kept pouring into California campaigns and committees even while voters went to the polls on Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State’s campaign finance database.

There were many dozens of contributions on and since Tuesday, but among the bigger-ticket last-minute antes was $300,000 on Tuesday from General Electric to oppose Proposition 24, which would’ve rolled back some corporate tax cuts – approved as part of recent budget deals, and costing the state about $1.3 billion per year – set to take effect Jan. 1; Prop. 24 got only about 42 percent of the vote.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Eli Broad gave $100,000 on Tuesday to the campaign supporting Proposition 20 – to add Congressional reapportionment to the duties of the citizens redistricting commission created by Proposition 11 of 2008 – and opposing Proposition 27, which would’ve abolished that commission; Prop. 20 passed with about 61 percent of the vote, but Prop. 27 failed with only about 41 percent. Broad also gave $6,500 that day to Democrat Gavin Newsom’s successful campaign for lieutenant governor.

The California State Parks Foundation put a final $50,000 on Wednesday into the failed Proposition 21, which would’ve established an $18 car registration fee to fund state parks and wildlife projects; Prop. 21 got only about 42 percent of the vote.


November’s ballot measures get prop numbers

Secretary of State Debra Bowen just rolled ’em out, and here they are —

Proposition 18: Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010 ($11.1 billion bond measure)

Proposition 19: legalizes recreational marijuana use. (Too bad this wasn’t Prop. 20, as proponents would’ve been able to say they’re “For 20.”)

Proposition 20: adds Congressional reapportionment to the authority of the citizens’ redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008

Proposition 21: establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs, with free admission to state parks for all surcharged vehicles

Proposition 22: bars state government from taking, borrowing, shifting or restricting use of tax revenues dedicated by law to fund local government, community redevelopment or transportation projects

Proposition 23: rolls back AB 32, the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters

Proposition 24: repeals recently enacted corporate tax breaks letting businesses carry back losses, share tax credits, and use a sales-based income calculation to lower taxable income.

Proposition 25: reduces legislative vote requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

Proposition 26: increases legislative vote requirement to impose state levies and charges from a simple majority to two-thirds.

Proposition 27: eliminates citizens redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008, putting all reapportionment authority back in the Legislature’s hands.


More initiatives approved for November ballot

November’s ballot got a lot more crowded today as Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced three more weighty ballot measures have qualified to be put to voters:

    An initiative to repeal recent legislation that would let businesses carry back losses, share tax credits and use a sales-based income calculation to lower taxable income – what the measure’s proponents say are corporate tax loopholes costing the state $2.5 billion per year. Opponents call it a “jobs tax” that will cripple the state’s already-damaged economy.
    An initiative to increase the legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for state levies and charges, and impose an additional requirement for voters to approve local levies and charges. The measure, put forth by California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allen Zaremberg and supported by anti-tax groups, would mean a “potentially major decrease in state and local revenues and spending, depending upon future actions of the Legislature, local governing bodies, and local voters,” according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office and state Finance Department as summarized by the state Attorney General’s office.
    An initiative to change the legislative vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority – in general, beloved by Democrats and reviled by Republicans.

Add these to the Water Supply Act placed on the ballot by the Legislature, as well as the marijuana legalization initiative; the congressional redistricting initiative; the vehicle license surcharge for state parks initiative; the local revenue protection initiative; and the AB 32 rollback initiative, and we’ve now got nine propositions on November’s ballot – almost all of them with big implications for California’s future.

UPDATE @ 10:02 P.M.: Make it an even 10; the folks at the Secretary of State’s office, burning the after-hours oil, tonight announced that yet another initiative has qualified for November’s ballot. This one would eliminate the state commission on redistricting (created by Proposition 11 of 2008) and put authority for redistricting back in the hands of the Legislature.


Beware of paid slate mailers, part 2

Following up on last week’s post, here’s more from the shameless slate-mailer file: A “Democratic Voter Guide” hitting local mailboxes recently urged a “yes” vote on Proposition 14, the top-two primary initiative that the California Democratic Party very staunchly opposes. That’s because this guide is published by Voter Guide Slate Cards of Long Beach, not by the party.

Similarly, the “Voter Information Guide for Democrats” urges a “no” vote on Proposition 15, the public campaign finance pilot project initiative, and “yes” votes on both Proposition 16 – the PG&E-funded measure that would protect the company’s monopoly by making it harder for local governments to establish municipal utilities or community choice aggregators – and Proposition 17 – the Mercury Insurance-funded measure dealing with portability of continuous-coverage discounts. That’s the opposite of California Democratic Party’s stances; the CDP urges yes on 15, no on 16 and 17. This mailer is actually published by Levine & Associates, a Sherman Oaks-based political consulting firm.

And the “Californians Vote Green” slate mailer urges a “yes” vote on Proposition 16: hardly a “green vote,” as just about every environmental group in the state – including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Environment California, the Earth Island Institute, the Planning and Conservation League, and the California League of Conservation Voters – are dead set against the measure. This mailer is a product of the David L. Gould Company Rick Taylor of Dakota Communications, a Los Angeles political consulting firm. (ed. note: see comments #2 and #3, below)

Please, voters: Read the fine print on whatever campaign literature you see, because more often than not the advice it gives is bought and paid for by someone other than the source you believe.