Initiative Panel at Athenaeum Highlights Video Voter Series

Bob Stern and Tony Quinn
Just in time for the 2014 election on November 4, the Rose Institute of State and Local Government hosted two experts on California politics to discuss the six measures on the ballot. Bob Stern is the co-founder of the Center of Governmental Studies, and Tony Quinn is the co-editor of the California Target Book. The event, titled California’s Choices: 2014 Ballot Initiatives, is part of a larger effort, including the recently completed Video Voter Series, which seeks to educate California voters about the six measures on this year’s ballot.

After viewing the Video Voter segment addressing each ballot measure, the panel, moderated by Associate Director of the Rose Institute Dr. Ken Miller, provided further insight on each measure. The measures range from Indian Tribal gaming rights to a $7 billion bond to finance water conservation and infrastructure. Both Stern and Quinn agreed that they expected the majority of the measures on the ballot to fail due to a stronger conservative streak in California ballot initiative history, as well as the increased power of negative ads and spending. About the initiative and referendum process, however, Stern and Quinn affirmed their support of the direct democracy, with Stern calling the initiative process a “fourth branch of state government.”

A prediction shared by the panel is the passage of both Proposition 1, the $7 billion bond measure for water resources, and Proposition 2, a constitutional amendment which strengthens the state’s rainy day fund. Both propositions passed by wide margins in the state legislature and, according to Stern, work to address timely issues that will make passage by the voters more likely.

Proposition 47, a citizen initiative which reclassifies certain non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, is likely to be the most closely contested measure on the ballot. According to Quinn, the legislature prefers that the voters deal with this subject, rather than taking it up in the legislature, because they are weary of appearing “soft on crime” or “anti-police.” Whichever way the ballot initiatives play out, the only certain thing is that the voters who get out and vote on November 4 will determine the outcome.

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