Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jun 2016
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Melody Gutierrez


SACRAMENTO - Californians will vote in November on whether to 
legalize marijuana for recreational use, after the secretary of 
state's office certified Tuesday that a proposed initiative had 
qualified for the ballot.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would authorize the state to license, 
regulate and tax marijuana. Backed in part by venture capitalist Sean 
Parker, the initiative will be the second in recent years to go 
before California voters asking if they want to legalize recreational 
use of the drug for people 21 and older. A similar measure was 
defeated in 2010.

Proponents for six other ballot measures are waiting for word on 
whether their initiatives will make the already crowded November 
ballot as the deadline approaches.

The pending initiatives include a $2-per-pack cigarette tax increase, 
prison sentencing reforms, expedited executions for death row 
inmates, extending an income tax, capping pay for hospital 
executives, and reserving any funds raised by the sale of retail and 
grocery bags for environmental spending.

State law requires county election offices to verify signatures 
turned in by ballot measure proponents through a random sample, with 
Thursday marking the deadline for initiatives to qualify for the 
November election. Besides the marijuana initiative, seven other 
ballot measures have qualified for the November ballot.

If the measure on speeding up executions qualifies, it would become 
the second initiative on the ballot related to the state's use of the 
death penalty. A ballot measure to abolish the death penalty and 
instead sentence those inmates to life imprisonment without the 
possibility of parole has already qualified to appear on the November ballot.

The measure applies retroactively to inmates already sentenced to 
death and requires them to work while incarcerated, with 60 percent 
of their wages going to victim restitution, if ordered.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said the state's 
death penalty has been broken for years, and now voters can decide 
which reform is best.

"People can talk about their opposition to the death penalty and 
we'll never be able to change that, and I respect their opinion," 
Ramos told lawmakers at a hearing where he testified in support of 
the initiative to speed up executions.

"So now we have an opportunity with two initiatives to let the voters 
decide. And that's really what we want to do at the end of the day."

Proponents of a ballot measure that would extend the temporary 
personal income tax under Prop. 30 for another 12 years are also 
waiting to hear whether the proposal will make the ballot.

Most of the large counties in the state have completed their 
signature verifications, although Alameda, San Diego, Riverside and 
Orange counties were still working through some or all of the 
remaining seven ballot initiatives as of Monday.

"We had a good 20 staff working on those petitions," said Jill 
LaVine, registrar of voters for Sacramento County, whose office has 
completed its signature verifications for all ballot measures. "We 
worked Saturdays to get this done."

If the sampling is not completed in time, the initiative would move 
to the 2018 ballot if its signatures check out. The random sample has 
to project 110 percent of the required signatures are valid or the 
state requires all signatures to be verified, a process that at this 
point would keep an initiative from this November's ballot.

So far, 26 ballot measures have failed to qualify, although many of 
those are duplicates, including several for legalizing marijuana. A 
ballot measure to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 
was pulled from the ballot last week as expected after Gov. Jerry 
Brown signed into law a bill that raises the minimum wage to $15 an 
hour by 2022.

On Monday, the secretary of state's office announced a seventh 
initiative qualified for the November ballot. That initiative 
requires lawmakers to wait 72 hours from the time a bill is in print 
before voting on it and for the Legislature to record and post videos 
of legislative hearings.

"Over 1 million voters signed petitions to bring this measure to the 
ballot, and we are delighted the public will now have the opportunity 
to take direct action this November," said Sam Blakeslee, a former 
Republican state senator from San Luis Obispo, who helped carry the measure.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom