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Calif propositions have come a long way since 1911 inception

5:42 AM, Nov 1, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA -- In addition to deciding candidates for state and federal offices, California voters will make choices on nine propositions for new legislation when they head to the polls Tuesday. While California is not the only state to put propositions, many experts consider it the most influential system nationwide.

Depending on who you ask, however, it's a system that is either highly effective, or grossly out of whack from what was originally intended when former Governor Hiram Johnson helped introduce it in 1911.

"It's very hard work being a voter in California," said political consultant Mike Madrid, speaking of the effort involved in learning about the propositions on the ballot.

According to former Sacramento State Political Science professor John Syer, then Governor Johnson intended for the props as a way for the public to take back control over legislation that might have otherwise been seized by money interests.

Syer said, in that sense, propositions in California have become exactly the opposite of what they were meant to be.

"They work for special interests, for narrow interests, that are trying to promote something that will better their situation in the state of California," asserted Syer.

As someone who helps author and promote propositions, Madrid has a different viewpoint. He said the California prop system is working better than it ever has, largely out of necessity.

"The reason why is because our state government is completely broken," said Madrid. "If the state politicians had their acts together, we wouldn't have nearly as many ballot measures as we do in the state of California."

Syer disagreed.

"I would say that the self-serving propositions by economic interests far outnumber the ones that are in the general public good," he said.

Voters have much to brush up on before the Tuesdsay elections, to make informed decisions on the 2010 round of propositions. There are 55 pages of explanations, and arguments for, and against, propositions 19 through 27.

Written by Will Frampton,

Follow Will on Twitter.



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