Props deal with auto insurance, trafficking, redistricting
Part Two in a series
Ongoing coverage of the state ballot measures voters will encounter for the Nov. 6 election continues here with a look at Proposition 33 (dealing with changes in car insurance rates), Proposition 35 (penalties for human trafficking) and Proposition 40 (approval of redrawn state Senate district boundaries).
We will wrap up the proposition review on Friday with a look at Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty and Proposition 36, which would revise the three strikes law.
This effort to change the way auto insurance companies calculate rates includes language that both allows auto insurance companies to offer discounts to drivers who have had continuous coverage even if they change companies, and increase rates on drivers who have had lapses in coverage – without approval from California’s insurance commissioner.
Supporters say: The American Agents Alliance, funded almost entirely by billionaire George Joseph, the founder and chairman of Mercury General Corporation, claims the proposal rewards responsible drivers. To date Joseph has spent more than $16 million on the effort, accounting for the vast majority of the funding. Supporters also hope that the measure, if passed, would increase competition between insurance companies.
Opponents say: Those against the initiative include Consumer Reports and the Consumer Federation of California, who argue that the proposition would lead to higher rates and weaken protections for consumers. They, of course, point to the fact that this proposition is nearly identical to one Joseph bankrolled in 2010 (Proposition 17), which also sought to roll back the reforms explicitly barring higher rates for new and uninsured drivers in 1988’s Proposition 103. Before the passage of Proposition 103, California drivers paid among the highest insurance rates in the country.
Known as the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” if passed, this initiative would increase prison sentences and associated fines for those convicted of human sex trafficking. Sentences would be increased to 15-years-to-life; while fines could go up to $1.5 million, money that would be spent on programs to aid victims of sex trafficking.
Additionally, the law would require anyone convicted of human trafficking to register as a sex offender. It would also force all registered sex offenders to include their Internet access and online identities on the state maintained Megan’s Law database, which is accessible by anyone at meganslaw.ca.gov. Law enforcement would be required to receive specialty training to deal with human trafficking. Finally, the bill would prohibit evidence of a victim’s sexual history from being used against him or her in court hearings.
The state Attorney General’s office estimates the fiscal impact at “a couple of million dollars annually” to prosecute human sex trafficking cases, along with a one-time cost of “a few million dollars” to train state law enforcement agencies. The increased fines are a potential revenue generator to fund services for victims or for police activity to fight trafficking.
Supporters, who include survivors of sex trafficking, Mark Klaas of the KlaasKids Foundation and Scott Seamen, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, say the measure is necessary to better protect women and children against trafficking.
Opponents, who include officials with the Exotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project, say the law is short-sighted as criminalization does not provide protection, it would further burden the state budget and utilizes a broad definition of “pimp” that would require more people to register as sex offenders.
This veto referendum, placed on the ballot to ask voters to either reject or ratify it, concerns the redistricting plan already in place for state Senate district lines. A “yes” vote upholds the districts created by the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission until the next census in 2020, and a “no” vote rejects the lines and starts the process over. In this case the original sponsors – the California Republican Party – who were urging a “no” vote to reject the new state Senate districts, are no longer asking for a “no” vote. A “yes” vote is still required to keep the lines in place.
Supporters say: The League of Women Voters, the AARP and others support a “yes” vote, arguing that the district lines created by the voter-approved independent commission take redistricting out of the hands of self-interested politicians.
Opponents say: The state Republicans originally placed the matter on the ballot in an effort to block the new districts from being implemented in the 2012 election, but a Supreme Court decision kept the lines in place. Though the matter must remain on the ballot, at this time there is no official, organized opposition.