SACRAMENTO — California voters will be asked to decide the fate of at least half a dozen ballot propositions at the June 3 primary election, including an initiative to revamp the state's "deep-pockets" liability law.
Thursday is the official deadline for sponsors to qualify propositions for the primary election, but the Legislature legally can waive the deadline to place more of its own proposals on the ballot. Three such measures pending in the Legislature look like a good bet to make the ballot.
Already qualified, besides the deep-pockets initiative, is a proposed constitutional amendment approved by the Legislature that would prohibit retired state officials from collecting pensions larger than the salaries currently being paid to incumbents.
Another proposition would overturn a provision of Proposition 13, the property tax-cutting measure passed by voters in 1978. It would allow property taxes to be increased to finance general obligation bonds for construction of local facilities, such as police stations, firehouses and community centers if two-thirds of the voters agreed.
Other ballot proposals would authorize an $850-million bond issue for Cal-Vet home and farm loans, guarantee that a portion of state vehicle licensing fees would be turned over to cities and counties and permit state and local government funds to be deposited in credit unions. Such funds currently can only be placed in banks and savings and loan associations.
Still pending in the Legislature are ballot proposals to authorize two bond issues: $300 million for construction and repair of libraries and $100 million for purchase of community park land.
Another proposal would prohibit political parties from endorsing candidates for local nonpartisan office.
The deep-pockets initiative--the only initiative on the June ballot--qualified when proponents collected far in excess of the required 393,835 signatures of registered voters.
The measure would substantially overhaul the state's existing liability doctrine, in which one party can be held liable for all the damages resulting from a personal injury, even if that party is barely at fault.
The initiative would not change existing liability for actual damages, such as medical costs. However, defendants in injury suits would be liable to pay only their share of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
The proposition to limit pensions for retired elected state officials generally would cap the benefits at the salary received by the current holder of the retiree's job, but it would not require cuts in current pensions. The measure's sponsor, Sen. Wadie P. Deddeh (D-Chula Vista), is backing another proposal for the November general election ballot that would halt huge windfall pension increases scheduled to go into effect next year for former state officeholders.
Failing to qualify for the June ballot, because it could not attract enough signatures, was a proposal to ban state-financed abortions. However, another anti-abortion initiative is being circulated for November's ballot.