League of Women Voters Deciphers the Ballot Measures

Haven't looked at the11 ballot measures, yet? You'll get in, get out, get in the know if you catch one of these last decoding sessions.


By Bryan Delohery

With the Nov. 6 elections just around the corner, wading through state and local propositions can be a daunting task.

Luckily the League Of Women Voters, Los Altos-Mountain View chapter have come to the rescue—at least for the 11 state propositions.

Peter Stahl, the chapter’s veteran decoder conducts the popular “Pros and Cons” sessions that are given all around the area in the weeks leading up to each the election. About 40 people turned out at the first, a “Lunch with the League" event at Ristorante Bella Vita in downtown Los Altos on Sept. 28.

Each year, the league hosts the hour-long dissection of these propositions into layman’s terms, slicing through the enigmatic legal jargon to educate voters. The goal is to give a fair and balanced analysis of ballot choices. 

It's a simple presentation. Stahl speaks in restaurants and church halls, libraries and senior centers, and he's come up with a routine and equipment to support it.

Armed with slides and a projector, Stahl prepared to sift through Propositions 30 to 40 which carried a basic explanation of each, as well as a side-by-side comparison of the pros and cons. As the session was about to start someone shouted, for him to speak louder.

“I’m sorry,” Stahl responded, trying to boom into the little microphone with more force. "I’m sorry, I'm using my daughter’s karaoke machine." The room lit up with laughter.


  •     Proposition 30-  Sales and Income Tax Increase to Support Education 
  •      Proposition 31- Two-Year State Budget Cycle
  •      Proposition 32- Bans Corporations and Unions From Donating to State and Local Candidates   
  •      Proposition 33- Car Insurance Rates Based on History of Coverage
  •      Proposition 34- End the Death Penalty
  •      Proposition 35- Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery
  •      Proposition 36- Changes to The Three-Strikes Law
  •      Proposition 37- Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food
  •      Proposition 38- State Income Tax Increase to Support Education
  •      Proposition 39- Income Tax Increase for Multi-state Businesses
  •      Proposition 40- Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan


Proposition 35, the Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery measure, which proposes increased fines and prison terms for traffickers, requires sex traffickers to register as sex offenders and requires all registered sex offenders to turn over online accounts and passwords to law enforcement.

Proposition 36 would create changes to the three -strikes law, requiring  the third strike to be a serious or violent crime and current convicted felons would be eligible for re-sentencing. 

Proponents of this bill feel that re-sentencing nearly 4,000 convicted felons could save the state up to $70 to $90 million a year, said Stahl. Opponents say this could potentially release dangerous felons back onto our streets, he noted.

Propositions 30 and 38, on the other hand, are not so clear, Stahl said. Proposition 30, supported by the California Teachers Association/Issue Pac and the California Hospitals Committee on Issues, allocates temporary taxes to help offset cuts in education funding. About 89 percent of these temporary taxes would go to help K-12 education, with the other 11 percent going to community colleges.

Proposition 30 also raises personal income taxes depending on an individual's  income bracket. Sales and use taxes would also go up.

Proposition 38, dubbed the “Munger Plan” because it is bankrolled by Molly Munger, a wealthy civil rights attorney, proposes a personal income tax increase on anyone making over $7,316. Similar to Proposition 30, it would allocate 60 percent of its revenue to K-12 education and 10% would go to early childhood education.

For a more in-depth analysis of propositions 30 and 38, see our related sidebar.

Often times, when there are competing propositions on the ballot, if both are passed the one with most votes will cancel the other out. That's the case with Propositions 30 and 38. They will cancel each other out when it comes to the income tax increase,” Stahl said.

The league will be hosting its last two Pros and Cons sessions on

  • Monday, Oct. 22 at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, Room 501 (Soule Hall), 728 W. Fremont Av, Sunnyvale, CA 94087


The League has  also produced an easy voter guide that lays out the propositions, is available at http://www.easyvoterguide.org/.   

For more information on the League Of Women Voters, Los-Altos Mountain View chapter visit http://www.lwvlamv.org

Editor's Note: Bryan Delohery is a San Jose State University journalism student. He wrote this piece for Patch as part of a class assignment.

K-12 News Network October 20, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Please clarify the statement Peter Stahl said with regard to Props 30 and 38 "cancelling each other out." From your piece: >>"...if both are passed the one with most votes will cancel the other out. That's the case with Propositions 30 and 38. They will cancel each other out when it comes to the income tax increase,' Stahl said."<< The last sentence directly contradicts the statement preceding, where you say that the one that receives the most votes wins. Saying that ONE education funding proposition cancels out the OTHER if both receive 50%+ votes is different than saying that if both meet the threshold for winning (50%+) they cancel each other out. I urge you to be precise, because there is no penalty for voting for both 30 & 38 as I understand it but what you say implies that there is. You must not confuse voters any more than they already are.


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