Election Day is Nov. 6

(Editor’s Note: This is Part III of a three-part series on state-wide propositions on the November Ballot.  Part I covered Prop. 1 through 4 (Oct. 12 edition), Part II covered Props. 5, 6 and 10 (Oct. 19 edition).

Two state-level political leaders from Santa Cruz:  John Laird, the current California Secretary of Natural Resources and former three-term state assembly member representing Santa Cruz, and Mark Stone, current state assembly member representing the 29th District since 2012 and running for re-election,  spoke at separate events last month on the state propositions on the ballot for November election.  

Proposition 7: Daylight Saving Time: It is important to know this proposition will not make permanent or abolish daylight saving time- a Yes vote authorizes the state legislature to make that decision. Because a voter-approved proposition established Daylight Saving Time in California in 1949- a voter-approved proposition is necessary to repeal it. If approved, Prop. 7 gives the state legislature the authority to decide if daylight savings time should be made year-round, requiring a two-thirds vote in the legislature as well as federal approval by Congress.

The proponents of getting rid of the twice per year clock change and making daylight savings time permanent cite negative health effects and increased cost for electricity. The opponents of Prop. 7 say leave it the way it is because the legislature may switch the state to year-round daylight savings time- which they claim was a disaster, and especially unsafe for school children going to school in the dark,  when it was tried in 1974.  There are no formal committees or organizations for or against this measure.

Proposition 8: Limiting Dialysis Clinic Revenue: If passed, Proposition 8 will cap how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics can charge patients, and will impose penalties for excessive bills. A "yes" vote will require dialysis clinics to make refunds to patients or patients' payers for profits over 15 percent of the cost of direct patient care and qualifying business costs. The proposition will require clinics to report the costs, revenue and charges for dialysis treatment annually to the state.  The measure would also prohibit clinics from discriminating against patients based on their method of payment-that is, Medical and Medicare patients.

The funding for support and opposition of Prop. 8 has shaped up as a contest between labor unions, SEIU-United Health Care Workers in particular, and two large corporations, Da Vita and Fresenius Medical Care. These two firms own about 75 percent of the dialysis clinics in California, with the balance owned by nonprofit medical organizations.  

The SEIU-UHW argues that Prop. 8 is aimed at forcing this two-firm monopoly to invest more of their profits into patient care. These two firms, which are funding most of the opposition, argue the measure is a power play by unions to leverage negotiations at dialysis clinics. Mark Stone recognized that the Prop. 8 has been seen “cynically” as an organizing tool for the SEIU-UHW, but that, “Increased oversight over a critical health care function is something important to consider.”

John Laird pointed out the two major dialysis care companies have put up $47 million to oppose the measure, and, “Interestingly, gave $2.15 million to the state Republican Party-sometimes they do that for a slate of candidates, but we don’t know where that money will land at this point,” Laird said. 

Opponents of the measure highlight a warning from the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office that, depending how the state Department of Public Health implements Proposition 8 – including which costs are to be included in the revenue cap and how the dialysis companies respond- some clinics may close and fewer new ones would open, limiting access to critical health care.                                             

Supporters: California Democratic Party, Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 617                   Opponents:California Republican Party, Fresenius Medical Care and Da Vita, California Medical Association, National Kidney Foundation

 Proposition 11: Requiring Ambulance Employees To Be On-Call During Breaks: If passed, the measure would exempt ambulance drivers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians from state labor laws requiring workers to be off duty for lunch breaks and rest periods- requiring workers at for-profit medical response companies to be on-call during meal and rest breaks. Workers would be paid at their regular rate during these breaks, but interrupted breaks cannot be counted toward total required break-time per shift.

Astute voters may wonder why for-profit corporations such as American Medical Response, a major funder of the Yes on Prop. 11 campaign, are advocating for the added cost of FEMA, natural disaster and violence prevention training along with additional mental health services for their employees, while the United EMS Workers labor union is adamantly opposed to the measure.  

According to the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office, private ambulance companies like AMR, providing about three-fourths of the emergency trips in the state, could see labor costs increase up to $100 million for as much as a 25 percent increase  in personnel if lunch-break labor laws are applied to the medical transport industry.  Plus, hidden in the fine print of the measure, is a provision that voids all pending class action lawsuits against the ambulance companies for violations of the labor code.

“The measure is rooted in a 2016 state Supreme Court decision,” Laird said, “that required security guards to be off duty during breaks, and it  was only a matter of time until that ruling was extended to emergency medical workers. This is something of a pre-emptive ballot measure to make sure the companies can control the break-time practices of their employees, rather than having the courts decide,” Laird said. 

Supporters:  American Medical Response, California Republican Party, Sacramento Bee editorial board, Bakersfield Californian editorial board                                                                                      Opponents:United EMS Workers’, California Democratic Party, Service Employees International Union, and United Steelworkers, who represent a branch of emergency service workers in Northern California.  California Teachers Association, California Labor Federation

Proposition 12 : Increasing Requirements for Farm Animal Confinement:  A Yes vote bans the sale of meat from certain farm animals confined in less space than is specified in the measure.  California passed a similar measure, Proposition 2, in 2008 that banned the sale of meat and certain animal products if the animals were confined in spaces in which the animals were unable to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs, but Prop. 2 did specify the specific square footages required, or include any funding for enforcement.

Prop. 12 take this previous law a few steps further by specifying square foot requirements, and, perhaps more important, according to Laird, it provides $10 million in funding for enforcement, which the previous law lacked.  “It probably does provide for more humane treatment and enforcement of the law,” Laird said.

Interesting to Mark Stone was that while the Humane Society endorses the measure, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) opposes the measure, characterizing the  Humane Society’s endorsement of the measure as “a sell-out to the industry by adopting industry standards for the containment areas,” Stone said.  “Usually these two groups are in alignment, but apparently PETA believes the standards specified in the measure are still not what they should be.”    

Supporters: Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals, Central Valley Eggs, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, California Democratic Party, United Farm Workers                                                                                                     Opponents: California Republican Party ,California Pork Producers Association, Association of California Egg Farmers, Humane Farming Association, Friends of Animals, The California Farm Bureau, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),  Sacramento Bee editorial board

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Hundreds of the most trusted animal protection groups, environmental advocacy organizations, responsible farmers, Californian veterinarians, and social advocates have endorsed Prop 12. This ballot measure would END the cruel practice of locking animals in cages at factory farms, which would drastically improve their lives. Cage-free facilities have also been found to be safer for consumers, better for the environment, and more respectful to their farmers, which is why such a wide variety of people and organizations have come out in support of this measure. This November, vote YES on PROP 12 to support our communities, protect our environment, and reduce the suffering of millions of animals.

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