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Election 2000 logo (sm) Voters Guide Calif. Primary - Mar. 7


Open primary mixes parties
Smaller parties offer more choices
Presidential primary is a mother lode
The presidential candidates on the issues
Other candidates in the presidenital race
A quiet GOP Senate campaign
Other candidates for the Senate seat

District 10
District 12
District 13
District 14
District 15
District 16
District 17

District 11
District 13
District 15

District 23
District 24
District 28
Districts 18, 20, 21, 22, and 27

Voters facing 20 ballot measures
Pro, con, for and against

Santa Clara County
Board of Supervisors
Superior Court
Los Altos Hills Council
San Jose Council
Water District
Open Space Authority
Ballot measures

Alameda County
Board of Supervisors
Board of Education
Ballot measures

San Mateo County
Board of Supervisors
Half Moon Bay Council
Ballot measures

Santa Cruz County
Board of Supervisors
District Attorney
Superior Court
Ballot measures

San Benito County
Board of Supervisors
Superior Court
Board of Education

How to use Pollstar ballot machine

Are we there yet? An explanation of the primary process

Politics & Government on Mercury Center

Campaign 2000 at RealCities

California Secretary of State voter information
California Voter Foundation's nonpartisan guide
League of Women Voters' nonpartisan guide
Rough and Tumble, a daily snapshot on California politics

Alameda County
Monterey County
San Benito County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County



Posted at 1:55 p.m. PST Friday, February 18, 2000


Voters facing 20 ballot measures

Hot topic: same-sex marriages

Pro, con, for and against: A closer look at each of the statewide propositions.


Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO -- Remember those dinner-table topics to avoid discussing with the in-laws? They've all been piled on the March 7 ballot, from religion, sex and politics to death and taxes.

California's presidential primary ballot also includes measures on smoking and gambling and almost $4.7 billion in bonds for parks, water, literacy programs, crime labs and veterans' homes.

The shortest -- and most controversial -- of the 20 ballot measures is Proposition 22, the so-called Knight Initiative, which bars California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. No state has legalized gay and lesbian marriages; 30 states and the federal government have passed laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The 14-word initiative simply states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.''

California law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but it also recognizes legal marriages performed in other states. Supporters claim that without the initiative, Vermont, for example, could legalize gay marriages, and California would be forced to recognize those marriages if the couples moved here. But opponents argue the initiative is unnecessary and fosters discrimination against gays and lesbians, many of whom are blocked from visiting their companions in the hospital, putting their partners on their health insurance plans and enjoying inheritance or other legal rights afforded married, heterosexual couples.

Sponsored by conservative state Sen. William Knight, R-Palmdale, the "Limits on Marriages'' initiative has split the religious community. Catholic, Mormon and some evangelical Protestant congregations are lined up in support, arguing the measure protects the sanctity of traditional marriage. On the other side are Episcopal bishops, Jewish rabbis, and Lutheran, Methodist and Unitarian church leaders who say the measure incites hate and intolerance toward gays, lesbians and their families.

Another hotly debated measure on the ballot is Proposition 26, which would reduce the vote margin needed to approve bonds for school construction facilities. Currently those bonds need approval from two-thirds of the voters; under this measure, approval from 50 percent, plus one, would be sufficient.

Supporters of the measure, including Gov. Gray Davis, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California PTA and the California Teachers Association, claim the initiative will help reduce class size for all students and let the majority of voters decide how much they should invest in schools. In addition, supporters say the initiative has safeguards to ensure the bonds finance good projects by requiring detailed plans before the issue is put before voters.

Opponents include anti-tax, homeowners and senior citizen organizations who argue reducing the vote margin will make it easier for a majority to raise property taxes that are paid only by homeowners, not renters. They point out the two-thirds vote requirement that protects homeowners has been required since 1879 -- and that when a good case is made, voters have passed bonds with a two-thirds vote majority.

For the fourth time in 12 years, Californians can vote on a measure to limit campaign contributions. Proposition 25, sponsored by Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz and former acting Secretary of State Tony Miller, would limit individual contributions to $3,000 for a local and legislative candidate, and $5,000 for statewide office candidates. The measure would ban contributions from corporations and provide public funding for candidates and campaigns that voluntarily agree to limit campaign spending.

The measure also reduces, but does not prohibit, the amount of money political parties can give individual candidates, a provision opponents claim legalizes ``soft money'' contributions. In addition, it imposes a blackout period that prohibits statewide candidates from raising money until 12 months before the primary election, and bars other state office candidates from raising money until six months before the primary.

If passed, the initiative would go into effect beginning in 2001. But if the federal courts uphold Proposition 208, the 1996 initiative that is still pending, 208's more restrictive campaign limits would go into effect. Proposition 208 would limit individual contributions to $500 for statewide candidates and $250 for legislative candidates. The limits would double for candidates who accepted restrictions on campaign spending.

Backers of the initiative, including James Knox, the executive director of California Common Cause, former Stanford University President Donald Kennedy, former state Secretary of State March Fong Eu, and Thomas K. Houston, former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, point to last November, when California and Nevada gambling interests spent more than $100 million on Proposition 5, which legalized Indian gaming casinos.

Opponents, including anti-tax groups, business and labor groups, argue the measure is flawed because it allows unlimited contributions to state political parties, which can then use that "soft money'' to help individual candidates. They also oppose provisions that allow wealthy candidates to make unlimited donations to his or her own campaign.

In addition, because the initiative would require public financing of some campaigns -- at a cost of at least $55 million a year, according to the legislative analyst -- opponents claim taxpayers will have to foot the bill for a candidate's political ads, even those with which the taxpayers does not agree.

Another initiative on the ballot seeks to repeal the 50-cent per pack cigarette tax imposed by Proposition 10 in 1998. Proposition 28 is spearheaded by Ned Roscoe, president of Cigarettes Cheaper! Stores, who claims the tobacco tax is unfair because it targets smokers instead of the general population. But supporters of Proposition 10 said it has raised more than $600 million for health care, pre-school education, and immunization programs for children.

Proposition 21 increases punishment for violent juvenile crime by making gang-related murders subject to the death penalty and requiring juveniles aged 14 or older charged with murder or specified sex offenses to be tried as adults. The measure, prompted by former Gov. Pete Wilson, is supported by prosecutors, peace officers and victims groups who claim that youth should not be an excuse for murder, rape or other violent act.

But opponents, including probation officers, juvenile court judges, the League of Women Voters and the California State PTA president, said judges already have the ability to try 14-year-olds as adults, but this measure would require them to, even if the juvenile was mentally impaired.

Contact Hallye Jordan at or (916) 441-4602.


Published February 20, 2000

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