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New tobacco tax, abortion rules weighed for 2014 ballot

A requirement for minors to notify their parents before having an abortion and a new tax on tobacco products are among the proposals that could be headed to the state ballot next fall.

Sponsors of both have received clearance from the Secretary of State to begin gathering the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed by mid-June to begin qualifying for the November election -- a process that can cost upwards of $1 million.

It is unclear whether backers of either proposal will invest the necessary money and effort.

The abortion proposal is similar to two others that have been rejected by state voters, most recently in 2008. A third effort in 2012 failed to get the required signatures.

State voters rejected a new levy on tobacco products in 2012. But supporters of the idea are back, proposing to hike cigarette taxes by $2 a pack and implementing an equivalent levy on other tobacco products, to generate about $1.4 billion annually for disease research, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

The proposals are among dozens of ideas submitted to state officials for review. Only some will go through the signature-gathering process and appear before voters.

But next fall’s ballot is quickly getting crowded. Voters will weigh in on a measure that would give the state insurance commissioner new powers to regulate health-insurance rates and answer the question of whether to uphold a deal approved by lawmakers this year to allow a new tribal casino near Fresno.

A vote is currently planned on a $12-billion bond for water projects and another proposal that would limit future state spending. Those two measures were placed on the ballot by lawmakers, who also have the power to move them off the ballot. Democrats in Sacramento have expressed interest in shrinking the size of the bond and rewriting the spending-cap plan.

Changing those proposals would require a two-thirds vote in both legislative houses.

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Twitter: @anthonyyorklat

anthony.york@latimes.com

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