Redistricting, animal measures enjoy early leads in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians appeared poised Tuesday to adopt groundbreaking changes in how legislative districts are drawn and farm animals are treated while rejecting renewable energy and big-ticket criminal justice propositions, according to early returns.

The initiatives were among 11 sharing the ballot with the proposed same-sex marriage ban.

Two of the most hotly debated propositions — one calling for parental notification before an abortion, the other a nearly $10 billion bond measure to build a bullet train system linking southern and northern California — were locked in a virtual dead heat.

The vote on Proposition 4 was deadlocked in initial returns. The measure marked the third time since 2005 that state voters have been asked to decide whether parents must be notified before girls younger than 18 get abortions.

Foes at the state's Planned Parenthood chapters, the American Civil Liberties Union and California Medical Association said a 48-hour notification law cannot compel healthy family communication — and might drive some girls to seek unsafe abortions.

Backers maintained that parents have a right to know if their children are seeking such a major medical procedure. Without a notification, they said, parents might be unaware that their child had endured a sexual assault or fail to realize the cause of possible medical complications after an abortion.

Proposition 2, which would determine the fate of penned farm animals, appeared to be winning by a large margin.

The measure pitted animal-rights activists against farm groups on the question of whether egg-laying hens, veal calves and pregnant sows should be allowed more room in pens and cages.

Opponents said it would increase the price of California-raised eggs, potentially crippling the industry. Backers argued that farm animals deserve humane treatment and said the changes would cost consumers just a few cents per dozen eggs. (California produces little veal, and the state's largest pork producer voluntarily plans to eliminate small crates.)

A trio of measures offered starkly different choices on matters of criminal justice.

Proposition 5, which would allocate $460 million a year to treat perpetrators of nonviolent drug-related crimes, was trailing. Backers said society would benefit more from treatment than from incarceration, while opponents contended that the measure would decriminalize drugs and let criminals avoid jail.

Meanwhile, an effort to boost police funding by up to $965 million a year under Proposition 6 was also losing. Backers argued that law enforcement receives too little state money, but foes said the measure would strip funding from more important priorities.

Proposition 9, a bid to boost the rights of crime victims and restrict early prisoner releases, was winning.

The measure would provide mandatory restitution to victims, allow them to avoid cooperating in a criminal defense, boost the maximum wait for a parole hearing to 15 years and let an unlimited number of a victim's family members testify at parole hearings.

Opponents argued that such changes would prove burdensome to the criminal justice process, improperly make victims party to criminal cases, potentially violate offenders' constitutional rights and increase incarceration costs.

Voters were essentially deadlocked on Proposition 1A, an effort to finance a bullet train linking Southern California with the Bay Area.

Backers said the $9.95 billion bond measure would be a fiscal stimulus to attract money from the federal government and private sector to build a $45 billion, 800-mile system featuring trains running up to 220 mph. They billed it as a big-ticket, public works project that would be an economic shot in the arm.

Opponents called the proposal a boondoggle and questioned the credibility of its promoters. They said the construction cost would swell to more than $80 billion, and the trains would operate at a deficit and fail to meet speedy travel time predictions.

Proposition 11, a bid to alter the once-a-decade job of redrawing districts for state lawmakers, was leading.

The measure, backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the League of Women Voters, would yank the job from the Legislature and place it in the hands of a 14-member bipartisan commission.

Foes of the plan, including the state Democratic Party and labor leaders, argued that it was a Republican power grab and would provide no guarantee of adequate representation for the state's diverse communities.

Two measures offered a boost to renewable energy.

Proposition 7, which was trailing, would require public and private utilities to obtain at least 20 percent of the electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 50 percent by 2025. Opposition came not only from big energy providers such as Edison International and PG&E but also from the Natural Resources Defense Council, with leaders saying the measure had loopholes that could stall development of green power.

Proposition 10, which proposed $5 billion in rebates for buyers of alternative-fuel vehicles, was also well behind. Among the big backers was Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, a major player in the natural gas and wind energy industries, which could be prime beneficiaries. He and other proponents said the measure would reduce the state's dependence on foreign oil, help clean the air and create thousands of green technology jobs. Opponents called the measure a boondoggle that primarily would benefit natural gas companies.

  • The vote was neck and neck on Proposition 3, which would authorize $980 million in bonds to fund construction, refurnishing, expansion and new equipment for more than a dozen children's hospitals operated by the University of California and nonprofit organizations.
  • Proposition 12, which would authorize $900 million in bonds to provide low-cost loans to California military veterans, was the only bond measure enjoying a big lead. Mortgage payments by veterans would repay the cost of the bonds.

Share This Story