Oct 30
11:43 AM

Election 2012: A Guide to the Propositions (Part 3)

Below is your third and final installment of the Proposition summaries.  Remember that you can access the full details here: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/pdf/.

Proposition 37: Genetically Engineered Foods.  Labeling.  Initiative Statute.


  • Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Prohibits labeling or advertising such food, or other processed food, as “natural.”
  • Exempts foods that are: certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.


  • Opponents claim that foods made with GE ingredients are safe, that Prop. 37 exempts two-thirds of the foods Californians eat, and that consumers and taxpayers will have to pay higher prices.
  • Supporters maintain that Prop. 37 will not raise food costs or taxes, that it only requires honest labeling (it does not ban GE food), and that “labeling is an important tool to protect your family’s health.”

Proposition 38: Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs.  Initiative Statute.


  • Increases personal income tax rates on annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from .4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million, for twelve years.
  • During first four years, allocates 60% of revenues to K–12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter, allocates 85% of revenues to K–12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs.
  • Provides K–12 funds on school-specific, per-pupil basis, subject to local control, audits, and public input.
  • Prohibits state from directing new funds.


  • Opponents cite tax rate increases of as much as 21% for the next 12 years, claiming that Prop. 38 will be unchangeable for 12 years “even in the case of fraud or waste.”  They also claim that Prop. 38 “creates a costly new bureaucracy by forcing schools to go through complex red tape just to receive basic funding.”
  • Supporters claim that tax rates will only increase between 0.4% and 2.2%, not 21%.  They also assert that the money must be used directly for schools and that Sacramento politicians “cannot touch the money.”  Prop. 38 can only be amended by voters, ensuring that the Legislature cannot reallocate the funds later. 

Proposition 39: Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses.  Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding.  Initiative Statute.


  • Requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California.
  • Repeals existing law giving multistate businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
  • Dedicates $550 million annually for five years from anticipated increase in revenue for the purpose of funding projects that create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs in California.


  • Opponents allege that Prop. 39 is effectively a $1 billion tax increase that “gives California employers another reason not to invest or hire” and that there is no accountability, with no taxpayer protections.
  • Supporters argue that Prop. 39 merely closes a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations that unfairly costs taxpayers more money.  They claim that in fact Prop. 39 “will eliminate a barrier to creating jobs in California” and specifically creates thousands of clean energy jobs.

Proposition 40: Redistricting.  State Senate Districts.  Referendum.


  • A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, new State Senate districts drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
  • If the new districts are rejected, the State Senate district boundary lines will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court.
  • State Senate districts are revised every 10 years following the federal census.


  • There is no official argument against Proposition 40.


Oct 29
11:26 AM

Election 2012: A Guide to the Propositions (Part 2)

Below is your second installment of the Proposition summaries.  Remember that you can access the full details here: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/pdf/.

Proposition 34: Death Penalty.  Initiative Statute.


  • Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
  • Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death.
  • States that persons found guilty of murder must work while in prison as prescribed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with their wages subject to deductions to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.
  • Directs $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases.


  • Opponents claim that Prop. 34 “punishes families of those who suffered horrific deaths by condemned killers.”  They also claim that Prop. 34 will cost taxpayers more money by granting inmates “lifetime housing and healthcare benefits,” and that Jerry Brown has determined that there are no innocent inmates on California’s death row.
  • Supporters contend that Prop. 34 not only prevents the execution of innocent people but also saves millions of dollars a year because life sentences cost less than the death penalty (http://ccfaj.org/rr-dp-official.html).  They claim that the state’s death penalty is “too costly and broken beyond repair,” and that California wastes millions each year on “taxpayer-financed appeals that can last 25 years.”

Proposition 35: Human Trafficking.  Penalties.  Initiative Statute.


  • Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000.
  • Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement.
  • Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender.
  • Requires sex offenders to provide information regarding Internet access and identities they use in online activities.
  • Prohibits evidence that victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against victim in court proceedings.
  • Requires police officer training on human trafficking.


  • Opponents believe that under Prop. 35 people receiving financial support from “normal, consensual prostitution among adults” could be prosecuted as human traffickers and/or forced to register as sex offenders.  They also assert that Prop. 35 would create “a new unfunded liability” because enforcement would be expensive.
  • Supporters claim that Prop. 35 will protect California’s children and help victims through a fund paid for by human trafficking convicts.  They also note that a recent study graded California an “F” for its inadequate child sex trafficking laws.

Proposition 36: Three Strikes Law.  Repeat Felony Offenders.  Penalties.  Initiative Statute.


  • Revises three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent.
  • Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if third strike conviction was not serious or violent and judge determines sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
  • Continues to impose life sentence penalty if third strike conviction was for certain nonserious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession.
  • Maintains life sentence penalty for felons with nonserious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.


  • Opponents argue that Prop. 36 is “totally unnecessary” because “prosecutors and judges already have the power to implement Three Strikes fairly.”  They also claim that a hidden provision allows “thousands of dangerous criminals to get their prison sentence reduced.”
  • Supporters believe that Prop. 36 saves hundreds of millions of dollars and that it keeps dangerous offenders in prison, whereas currently without it “dangerous criminals are being released early from prison because jails are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders.”


Oct 22
5:12 PM

Election 2012: A Guide to the Propositions

With the election about two weeks away, we thought it would be a good time to review the California propositions.  Below are summaries of some of the propositions, as well as arguments for and against; for the full details, click here: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/pdf/.

Proposition 30: Temporary Taxes to Fund Education.  Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding.  Initiative Constitutional Amendment


  • Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.
  • Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years.
  • Allocates temporary tax revenues 89% to K–12 schools and 11% to community colleges.
  • Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent.
  • Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments.


  • Opponents claim that Prop. 30 “allows the politicians to play a ‘shell game’” wherein they may redirect money currently allocated for schools and use it for other purposes, such that these new taxes under Prop. 30 would serve only to replace that money.  Opponents cite a Wall Street Journal Editorial from April 22, 2012 that articulates the same theory.  “California Governor Jerry Brown is trying to sell his tax hike to voters this November by saying it will go to schools. The dirty little secret is that the new revenues are needed to backfill the insolvent teacher’s pension fund.”
  • Proponents have responded that the educational revenue created under Prop. 30 will enter a special account that the “legislature can’t touch,” that the money is to be audited annually, and that Prop. 30 “authorizes criminal prosecution for misuse of money.”

Proposition 31: State Budget.  State and Local Government.  Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.


  • Establishes two-year state budget cycle.
  • Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified.
  • Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act.
  • Requires performance reviews of all state programs.
  • Requires performance goals in state and local budgets.
  • Requires publication of bills at least three days prior to legislative vote.
  • Allows local governments to alter how laws governing state-funded programs apply to them, unless Legislature or state agency vetoes change within 60 days.


  • Proponents believe that Prop. 31 will increase public input and transparency, increase local control and flexibility, and require legislators to find long-term financial solutions.
  • Opponents believe that Prop. 31 is poorly written and will in fact “increase costs, increase bureaucratic control, and undermine public protections.”  They further contend that Prop. 31 will “make it almost impossible to cut taxes or increase funding for education.”

Proposition 32: Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction.  Contributions to Candidates.  Initiative Statute.


  • Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors.
  • Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer-sponsored committee or union if authorized yearly, in writing.
  • Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.
  • Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition.
  • Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees.


  • Opponents focus on the exemptions in the law: specifically, that groups such as real estate developers, insurances companies, and billionaire venture capitalists are exempt from at least some parts of Prop. 32, leaving unions unable to counter such efforts.  They further assert that many of Prop. 32’s supporters are “big money donors” who will benefit from the exemptions.
  • Proponents contend that in reality, many opponents are “big money special interests” who want to control Sacramento.  They claim that the Proposition goes as far as it may legally go in light of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, but that ultimately it will prevent corporations and unions from financing politicians (including contractors who want to coerce politicians into approving their contracts).

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Companies.  Prices based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage.  Initiative Statute.


  • Changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company.
  • Allows insurance companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with some history of prior insurance coverage.
  • Will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.
  • Treats drivers with lapse as continuously covered if lapse is due to military service or loss of employment, or if lapse is less than 90 days.


  • Proponents maintain that Prop. 33 corrects a discrepancy in current law that allows for an insurance discount when a driver stays with a single insurance provider for a period of time but not when the driver has continuous coverage throughout that time period through different insurers (thus penalizing drivers for shopping around).
  • Opponents, however, insist that Prop. 33 is a “trick” that benefits insurance companies by actually raising rates.  Prop. 33 would “raise rates on drivers with perfect driving records” and “punish[] people who stopped driving for legitimate reasons—like going to college, recovering from a serious injury or taking public transportation—when they return to the insurance market.”

Additional propositions are on the ballot – keep checking our blog for updates! [REG]

Oct 22
4:55 PM

New LRC Database: Kluwer Arbitration

Kluwer Arbitration is the most comprehensive database of international commercial arbitration primary and secondary source resources.  It
contains leading commentary from expert authors in the field and provides access to many international and national arbitration conventions, rules, legislation, and decisions

To access Kluwer Arbitration simply start on the LRC Databases page.  If you are off-campus, you will be prompted for your MySandiego username and password or your library barcode. [MF]

Oct 15
2:24 PM

How Would You Like to Be RFID Chipped?

Two schools in San Antonio, Texas have placed RFID chips in student ID cards in an effort to track where students are located within the school.  School authorities assert that they use the tracking capability to improve attendance records and to locate students in cases of emergency, maintaining that they cannot track students once they are off-campus.

There are serious legal implications involved here, not only in terms of these particular students’ rights but also in terms of expansion into other settings.  For example, the tracking service could certainly be applied within the legal field, from law schools to courthouses.  The capability would be especially useful in a courthouse, where a clerk could potentially use attorneys’ whereabouts to improve scheduling efficiency.

How do our readers feel about this possibility?  Would you be uncomfortable having your location tracked by your professor?  Feel free to share your opinion in the Comments! [REG]


Oct 11
1:02 PM

Legislation Follow-Up: Governor Brown’s Vetoes

Last week, we posted a summary of some of the most debated bills that Governor Brown signed into law.  This week, we are taking a look at the bills the Governor vetoed.  Below are highlights of the bills that did not make the cut.

AB 1081: Known as the “TRUST Act,” this bill was expected to make California the “anti-Arizona” on immigration.  Under the bill, local law enforcement agencies would have been required to release certain undocumented immigrants based on the severity of their criminal record, even if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had requested that they be held.  Governor Brown’s veto message is accessible through his website: here.

AB 1270: This bill would have given reporters expansive access to interview convicts on camera.  While reporters may currently interview inmates under specified conditions, this bill would have restricted wardens’ authority to disallow interviews unless they posed “an immediate and direct threat.”  Governor Brown vetoed the bill, explaining that it gave “too much.”  gov.ca.gov

SB 1160: Under this bill, cellular networks would have been required to follow similar procedures to landline service providers, in that authorities would have needed a court order if they wanted to shut off cellular access (except in extreme cases).  Privacy advocates have denounced the Governor’s decision to veto the bill, while the Governor wrote in his veto message that the legislature and law enforcement agencies should work together to present a new bill “that balances protection of speech with the ability of law enforcement to utilize this tool in the protection of public health and safety.”  Further discussion of this issue is available at govtech.com.

SB 1476:  USD’s Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) co-sponsored this bill, which would have allowed for judges to recognize more than two parents for a child.  Although the bill was vetoed, many expect that a revised version will become law in the years to come.  For more information on this bill and others affecting children, visit the following page through the CAI here.

AB 2623: This bill would have allowed on-duty officers at state hospitals to carry firearms, according to policies set by the Department of State Hospitals, by January 2014.  The bill was highly controversial because of competing views of how best to protect patients and officers.  Ultimately, Governor Brown concluded that such a policy is “best left to the discretion of the department director who already has authority to arm its officers.”  Read more at the fresnobee.com.

For a full list of bills signed and vetoed, check the Governor’s official website: http://gov.ca.gov/home.php.   [REG]

Oct 1
5:41 PM

U.S. Supreme Court opens 2012-13 term

The U.S. Supreme Court began its 2012-13 Term today with two high profile cases.  In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., No. 10-1491, the petitioner Esther Kiobel, filed a class action under the Alien Tort Statute
("ATS"), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (incorporated in the
Netherlands), Shell Transport and Trading Company (incorporated in the
United Kingdom), and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria
(incorporated in Nigeria).  The Supreme Court must decide whether a federal
district court can hear a claim under the ATS when the claim arose out
of conduct in a foreign country.  In the Court's second case, Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, No.
11-626, the Court will decide whether an indefinitely moored
houseboat is a "vessel" for purposes of federal maritime jurisdiction.

Check SCOTUS blog for briefs and analysis on both Kiobel and Lozman including recaps for today's arguments. [MF]

Oct 1
5:06 PM

Governor Brown Signs 65 Bills into Law

Governor Jerry Brown solidified a place in history this past weekend, signing several monumental bills into law in California. Below are some highlights:

SB 9: For inmates serving life-without-parole sentences for murders committed when they were minors, SB 9 gives them a second chance. Approximately 309 inmates in California will be able to request reduced sentences once they have served 15 years in prison. Judges will have the option of reducing those sentences to 25-to-life. See the Senate’s news release here.

SB 1172: This Senate bill bars state licensed therapists from pursuing sexual orientation “conversion therapy” with LGBT minors, even in cases where the parents want their children to undergo such treatment. In signing this legislation, Governor Brown made California the first state to protect LGBT youths from the practice, effective January 1, 2013. Conservative groups are planning to sue in federal court to prevent the law from taking effect, according to ABC News.

SB 1221: In enacting this legislation, California has become the 15th state to prohibit hunters from using dogs to hound bears and bobcats. The practice is not only considered to be cruel to the bears but can also be harmful to the dogs when the bears opt to fight back (rather than climb up a tree in fear). Read the full text of the bill here.

AB 2109: This bill applies to children who opt out of vaccinations, requiring signed statements from parents and physicians. Supporters feel that the bill helps to inform and protect, whereas opponents feel that it restricts parental rights. The Governor’s signing message is available through his official website, here.

AB 2189: Under this law, certain undocumented immigrants will be eligible to receive California driver licenses. Eligibility is tied to the new federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, wherein students or ex-military with relatively clean criminal records may remain in the country for two years (subject to renewal). For more information on Deferred Action, visit the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

The Governor perhaps faces the greatest controversy over bills he did not sign. Stay tuned next week for a recap of the legislation he vetoed!

Oct 1
2:50 PM

Election 2012: Are You Registered?

this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow California
voters to register to vote as late as Election Day.  While the law does
not take effect this year
, it is expected to be in place by the 2016
presidential election or even sooner, depending on how quickly the State is
able to establish the required voting database (more information about the
legislation, AB1436, can be found here).

the meantime, California’s current law requires registration 15 days prior to
an election: October 22 for this year’s General Election (November 6).  Also, it is very important to double-check your registration status even if you already registered, because technical errors often prevent voters for accessing the polls on Election Day.  For California,
below are some useful links:

Register to Vote:  http://registertovote.ca.gov/

Already Registered?  Check Status: www.sos.ca.gov/elections

San Diego County Status:  http://www2.sdcounty.ca.gov/rov/Eng/evoter_query.asp#

laws vary, so if you’re registered to vote (or plan to register to vote) in a
different state, you may want to check out the following:

Register to Vote:  www.eac.gov

More Information, Including Deadlines: www.usa.gov

states require submission at least 30 days prior to an election, so take a
moment to make sure you’re ready to go once November 6 rolls around! [REG]