Farm animal protection measure wins
Californians adopted groundbreaking changes Tuesday in the treatment of farm animals and appeared poised to make a historic shift in the way legislative districts are drawn but were rejecting renewable energy and big-ticket criminal justice propositions.
The initiatives were among 11 sharing the ballot with the proposed same-sex marriage ban, on which the vote was too close to call.
Two propositions -- providing for parental notification before a minor’s abortion and a nearly $1 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals -- were locked in tight races. .
As is often the case, backers of the blizzard of propositions were seeking to set national precedents, ignite trends or fundamentally change the way the Golden State works.
* The vote on the abortion notification measure, Proposition 4 was too close to call late Tuesday.
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 ACLU and California Medical Assn. 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, was racing to a big victory.
The high-stakes measure, debated heavily on TV, 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 a thriving 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 have allocated $460 million a year to treat perpetrators of nonviolent drug-related crimes, was defeated. Backers said society would see more benefit from treatment than incarceration, while opponents contended the measure would decriminalize drugs and let dangerous criminals avoid jail.
Meanwhile, an effort to boost police funding by up to $965 million a year under Proposition 6 also lost. Backers argued that law enforcement receives too little state money, but foes said the measure would have stripped funding from more important priorities such as schools.
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.
* Proposition 1A, the long-delayed effort to finance a bullet train linking Southern California with the Bay Area, edged ahead in late returns.
Backers said the $9.95-billion bond measure would prove the 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 dramatically alter the once-a-decade job of redrawing districts for state lawmakers, was also 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 offering a boost to renewable energy appeared headed toward defeat.
Proposition 7, would have required public and private utilities to obtain at least 20% of the electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 50% 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 would mostly benefit natural-gas companies.
* The vote remained 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.