California Voters Face Do-Over In November

Recycled issues dot the ballot

The late Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh once said that if he had slain all his political enemies yesterday, he would have no friends today.

It's another way of saying that nothing is permanent in politics. And that especially holds true in California's elections, where the newly-numbered list of November ballot measures looks strangely familiar.

Take heart, voters. The list of 11 propositions numbered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen isn't the longest ballot they've faced.

There were 13 propositions in November of 2006 and 16 in November of 2004, for example.

But a number of measures this fall are the equivalent of asking voters to re-do their homework.

Interest groups and a small but vigorous initiative industry ensure that some measures simply get recycled.

Proposition 32 is a prime example.

It would ban labor unions and corporations from collecting dues for political purposes. It's a major threat to union political muscle and ensures labor will spend big to defeat it.

It's also a road we've been down before.

Voters rejected a similar measure, Prop 75, in 2005 as part of a drubbing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took that year as his reform measures were killed.

Voters rejected another version, Prop 226, back in 1998.

Another example this year is Proposition 36. It would modify sentencing requirements of California's Three Strikes law aimed at career offenders.

Voters rejected a previous effort to modify the law, Prop 66, in November of 2004.

Proposition 39 this year is another effort to raise corporate taxes. It would undo a previous agreement on a tax formula used by multi-state corporations.

Voters voted to keep that same agreement in November of 2010, just two years ago.

The upcoming vote on California's death penalty is more of a long-term question.

Back in 1978, voters approved Prop 7, which expanded use of capital punishment. This year, Prop 34 asks voters whether their views have changed so fundamentally that they believe the death penalty should be abandoned altogether.

And of course there's the big enchilada..the issue of taxes.

California voters rejected Prop 1A, a package of temporary taxes in the May 2009 special election.

This year, Gov. Jerry Brown has Prop 30, a package of temporary taxes he says is needed to avoid deep cuts in public education.

It's fair to expect that, as circumstances evolve, voters are asked to weigh in on familiar topics. But there's also a sense of deja vu.

Voters are on a road already well-traveled.

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