2 Initiative Ideas Do Well in Poll : Beverage Container Deposit, Water Proposals Backed

Times Staff Writer

Californians appear to be strongly supportive of two proposed ballot initiatives, one requiring deposits on beverage containers and another imposing a strict ban on contamination of drinking water with chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects in animals, according to a public opinion poll conducted by Common Cause and USC's Institute of Politics and Government.

The same survey, paid for by groups supporting the initiatives, shows only lukewarm support for an initiative that would limit legislative campaign spending if the measure included some taxpayer support for election campaigns.

The backers of the toxic chemical and beverage deposit measures have submitted their proposed initiatives to the state attorney general's office--the first step in placing an initiative on the November, 1986, ballot. The groups will need to gather the signatures of 393,835 registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

510 in Telephone Poll

Of the 510 included in the telephone survey last month, 76% said a "bottle bill" requiring deposits on beverage containers was either a good or excellent idea.

In the same survey, 79% said they would either probably or definitely support an initiative banning the release into drinking water of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects in laboratory animals and requiring warning labels to protect workers against such chemicals. An initiative to do that has been drafted by environmental groups and aides to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who is expected to run against Gov. George Deukmejian in a campaign in which hazardous waste regulation is likely to be a major issue.

The poll's findings do not necessarily mean success for the initiatives, cautioned Walter Zelman, executive director of California Common Cause and co-director of the California Public Interest Poll, which conducted the survey.

"Anyone considering an initiative probably has to assume they are not going to do as well after a campaign has begun," Zelman said. "All the evidence suggests that initiatives tend to start on the pro side and slip as the campaign goes on."

And that is exactly what happened in 1982, Zelman said, when voters rejected a "bottle bill" similar to the one proposed for the November ballot this year by Californians Against Waste.

50% Back Campaign Spending Proposal

The latest poll shows that only 50% of those surveyed supported a proposal to limit campaign spending and contributions in legislative races, while providing $5 million in public financing for campaigns. That is a marked drop from 10 months before when the polling group did not include a dollar amount in its question.

Common Cause, which is considering such an initiative, views the poll results "very, very cautiously," Zelman said.

"We would be on the ballot of November, 1986, in the midst of (legislative) campaign spending shattering every record imaginable. . . . So we may gain in some respects as the election year heats up."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World