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Thursday, Dec 1, 2022
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Voters Maxed On Measures

When voters go to the polls on Nov. 8, they will face issues worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster – sex, drugs, the death penalty and big money. Ballot measures on legalizing marijuana and requiring condoms in adult films are statewide, while Los Angeles County voters will decide on raising the sales tax by a half cent to fund future transportation projects. In Burbank, residents will give the thumbs up or down to a new terminal proposed for Hollywood Burbank Airport. These initiatives and others on issues such as single-use plastic bags, cigarette taxes, education funding, prescription drugs and ammunition sales could point to the future direction of business legislation nationwide. Elisha Krauss, in a panel discussion about the election early this month at the VICA Business Forecast Conference, said California tends to be the vanguard when it comes to how the rest of the nation tackles certain issues. “We are the petri dish to determine what other legislatures are going to do,” she said. In total, there are 17 statewide ballot measures as well as county and city initiatives the voters will see on Election Day. Pot politics Proposition 64 would allow residents to possess one ounce of marijuana and cultivate six plants. It would place a 15 percent state tax on the gross receipts of marijuana businesses and require them to pay existing sales taxes. Supporters of Prop 64 claim the law will provide a controlled and taxed environment for adult use of marijuana. Opponents contend the law will increase impaired driving and black market marijuana sales. Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said legalization would do harm. “This is a public health and safety disaster now and it will be a catastrophe if it is passed,” Shipman added. California legalized medicinal marijuana in 1996. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act to establish the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to create licenses for distributors, dispensaries and transporters. The regulations are expected to be enforced in 2018. Tom Hymes, editor of Mg magazine, a Woodland Hills-based national publication aimed at the owners of pot businesses, said recent polling numbers put support for the measure at about 60 percent. But previous efforts at full legalization have failed. “People have long memories,” Hymes said. “The people in the industry who are for it are cautiously optimistic.” Hymes conceded, however, that there are those in the cannabis industry opposing the measure, such as growers concerned about the long-term viability of their businesses. A measure to provide permits to cannabis dispensaries and other commercial businesses in Los Angeles will be on the city’s March primary ballot. The Los Angeles Marijuana Regulation and Safety Measure would amend Proposition D to give dispensaries operating in 2007 time to apply for a city permit and create a Department of Medical Marijuana Regulation. Prop D was passed by city voters in 2013 to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to the 135 that existed in 2007. Those shops, however, are still in a state of limbo as the city works out just how to regulate medical marijuana. An added wrinkle appears if Prop 64 passes. Los Angeles needs to solve its own issues independently because the city is the engine for the pot market in the state, Hymes said. “They grow it up north but they consume it down here,” he added. Airport approval Measure B was passed by voters in Burbank in 2000, and it has taken 16 years for it to be implemented. The measure requires approval by voters for a new terminal to be built at Hollywood Burbank Airport, the Valley’s only commercial airfield. While the issue of a new terminal has been long discussed between city officials and those at the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, the public body that owns and operates the airfield, it was not until this year that it had advanced far enough to activate Measure B and get the voters involved. “There are people that are surprised the issue has not been settled,” said Will Rogers, Burbank’s vice mayor. The airport authority wants to build the 14-gate, 355,000-square-foot replacement terminal on 49 acres along Hollywood Way north of the existing 14-gate terminal, which was built in 1930 The Burbank City Council voted 4-1 in August to put the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. The lone dissenting vote was Councilman David Gordon. Gordon’s objections, outlined in the argument against the measure included in a mailer to voters, alleges the proposal was rushed through environmental review with minimal public participation and makes hollow promises that airport capacity, traffic and noise won’t increase. “Vote no on this measure for continued protection from overreaching airport expansion, traffic, noise and air pollution,” Gordon wrote in the statement. While Gordon has supporters, there is no organized opposition to the measure. Those favoring the new terminal, on the other hand, have formed the Committee for Yes on Measure B. Rogers, Mayor Jess Talamantes and two other councilmembers plus a community activist signed their names to the argument in favor of the measure. They believe relocation will improve safety by moving the terminal farther away from the center of a runway. The current terminal is 250 feet from the center, which does not meet Federal Aviation Administration standards. Measure M Voters throughout Los Angeles County will have their say on funding for traffic projects with Measure M. If passed, the measure increases the sales tax by half a cent and continues the half-cent increase approved in 2008 with Measure R set to expire in 2039. Both increases would be in perpetuity unless voters stop them. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, estimates that $121 billion would be raised over the next 40 years to finance 30 public transit and freeway projects. In the San Fernando Valley, Metro has identified three projects – the East San Fernando Valley corridor connecting Van Nuys with Sylmar, improvements to the Orange Line busway that would include grade separations with plans to eventually convert it to light rail, and a connection between the Valley and Westside of Los Angeles that would require tunneling under the Santa Monica Mountains in the Sepulveda Pass. Bart Reed, executive director of the non-profit Transit Coalition in San Fernando, said Measure M brings to the Valley transit improvements that it has been shorted in the past. While critical of Metro and its plans, Reed said there is good news for the Valley if voters pass the measure. “The truth is a lot of what we have been criticizing for the last few years has been addressed,” he added. The measure, however, has attracted its share of detractors. Seven cities filed a lawsuit against Metro alleging the language of Measure M was incomplete and misleading and that money raised would shortchange the southern portion of the county. A Los Angeles County Superior judge ruled in September in favor of Metro. The No on Measure M 2016 campaign refers to the sales tax increase as the “forever tax” and that the funding favors projects in more affluent areas of the county. Those endorsing the group’s message include the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, who represented the western San Fernando Valley. Reed compared the perpetual sales tax to how public funding for schools will teach children forever. “In the case of Metro, we are going to maintain the buses in the Valley and maintain rail lines that get built in the Valley,” Reed said. Adult film regulation If approved by voters, Proposition 60 would do for the entire state what an earlier ballot initiative, Measure B, did for Los Angeles County. It would require adult performers use condoms when making films or streaming online video. Supporters pitch the measure as a workers’ safety issue. Those in the adult industry, much of it still centered in the San Fernando Valley, are vehemently opposed and believe it will just drive film production underground or out of state. Tony Rios, publisher of AVN Media Network in Chatsworth, called Prop 60 the biggest threat the industry has ever faced. “Everybody is against it,” Rios said. “It is a massive list of people that are opposed to this measure.” Those lining up against Prop 60 include the state Democratic and Republican parties, the state’s seven largest newspapers, the Valley Industry & Commerce Association in Sherman Oaks and leading HIV/AIDS organizations. A poll released Oct. 21 by Capitol Weekly, a publication covering state politics, had support and opposition to the measure even at 40 percent, with 20 percent undecided. Still, Rick Taylor, chief strategist for the Yes on 60/For Adult Industry Responsibility (FAIR) committee, was confident that that Prop 60 will pass. “I feel that Californians get it, because Californians are respectful of workers of whatever industry they choose to be in,” he added. Both Rios and Mike Stabile, spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, the Canoga Park trade group for the adult industry, agreed that on its face the proposition appears to be reasonable. A main objection the industry has is in the measure’s details – namely that it opens the industry up to lawsuits that can be filed by any California resident if state regulators don’t act on violations. “It is out of control,” Rios said. Stabile said that in an industry where performers’ health is connected to their livelihood, mandatory condom usage is not seen as necessary. A system is in place to test performers every 14 days for a full slate of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Their names are in a database that producers and performers can check for valid results. The testing system has prevented transmission of HIV on a regulated set for more than a decade, Stabile said. Taylor called the self-policing system “ridiculous” and that Prop 60 was an improvement because the burden wouldn’t be on the performers to pay for their tests. “This initiative makes the employer pays for the testing, and that is the reality of doing business in California,” he said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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