Exploring the Constitution of California and Proposition 2

Exploring the Constitution of California and Proposition 2

In 1849, the constitution of California was drafted. Virtually all constitutions confer various powers and liberties; the California constitution is no different. Although the framers of this constitution established the basic rules of law, the option of a referendum allowed citizens the chance to propose new state laws through a lengthy initiative process. This process of referendum highlights the main aspects of democracy and is a testament to the responsive nature of California government.

Out of the hundreds of proposed ballot propositions in California, 2008‘s Proposition 2 (known as the Standards for Confining Farm Animals), gained the attention of a large portion of California voters. Extremely dedicated and informed activists created a powerful and diligent campaign. Their message was met with much support and thousands of votes as a result of such effective campaigning.

When faced with a debated issue such as, the living conditions of farm animals, the decision must be made by those loyalists as to what the necessary means of action entail . As a result of being such a heated topic in the state, the Californians for Humane Farm (CHF) addressed the issue as drastically as possible and to the initiative as the prime supporter for this cause. Their decision as to what needed to be done, resulted in taking political action, with the means to suppress the issue. In order to do so, the detailed process of proposing a proposition for the up coming ballot must be followed. In America there are 7 different types of direct democracy that can be taken when proposing a proposition; Legislatively referred statute, Legislatively referred amendment, Initiated statue, initiated amendment, veto referendum, and lastly a recall. California, along with several other states are the only ones that accept all seven of these democratic forms for ballot measures. The supporters for Prop 2 felt as the the most effective way to enhance this issue, was to develop it as a initiated state statue, based on its specific meaning; “the initiative is the power of the people of California to propose statutes and amendments to the California Constitution”. Due to Proposition 2‘s standards and ideals this new initiated state statue piece of legislation, must follow the prior requirements before fully becoming official. The first step that needs to be taken is to write out exactly what the law entails and how they plan on enacting this law.

The CHF drafted their proposition by clearly stating the law and plan of action; Prop 2 “Prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Imposes a misdemeanor penalty and a fine of up $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail for up to six months to those who have been found to violate the act”. And lastly, “Bans dense confinement for egg-laying poultry, gestation crates for sows and veal crates for veal calves” (Ballotpedia). After completing this first step, the written draft of the proposition must be presented and obtain 25 or more signatures from the Legislative Council. Once the measure is approved ballot may proceed into the second step, where the title and summary of the proposition is created and secured. The measure must be presented to the Attorney General with an exact title and detailed summary, along with a governmental issued signed statement stated in section 9608 of the state constitution and a $200 deposit is needed. This deposit is then refunded if the ballot passes after 2 years, or if it fails to succeed it is placed in the General Fund of the state. After the Attorney General has sufficiently created a title and summary, it is now his/her job to propose the title and summary of the ballot to the Secretary of State. At this point the Secretary of State is given 15 days to look over the proposed ballot and decided if an extension, due to a fiscal estimation, is need. If so 25 days is granted to obtain a better understanding of the finical outlook accompanied with this proposition. Due to the highly anticipated immediate support for Prop 2 the Secretary of State decided to take the 25 day extension to discuss the fiscal impact that would follow if the bill was passed. As a result they were able to conclude an estimated idea as to how much budgeting would be required. It was stated that “Potential unknown decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses, possibly in the range of several million dollars annually.” and that “Egg production costs would increase by 76%”. Not only would this pose a deficit in the economic aspect for farmers but it would call for more needed help, but less buyers. Yet, the main fear causing question was the fact that it could result in: “95% of the California egg industry and accompanying economic output would be lost by 2015”.

After an anticipated decision the ballot advanced and was given to the state senate and assembly to review. Now that ballot measure successfully passed all the needed qualifications the measure is sent to the Senate, the Assembly and the Secretary of Sate to solidify a calendar date as to when the petitioning may begin. Once the HFC had been granted a specific calendar date they now had 150 days or 131 days before the next state election to obtain all of the needed signatures. This means gathering 5% of registered voters from the cumulative total of votes from the Governors election, roughly 433,971 signatures. Once all of the needed signatures are collected the next step is to file for verification by sending the signed measure to the county’s election officials, where the signatures are verified. Through a random sample of the signatures, 95% or more is needed to be checked and valid in order to proceed in finalizing the proposition. By following the previous needed step necessary in securing an initiative the supporters were able to collect and exceed the needed amount with 790,486 signatures the measure was granted approval, and the Secretary of State created a certificate of approval thus making it an initiative measure which will appear on the ballot during the next election. This is a very tedious process and the supporters of Proposition 2 accomplish each step necessary therefore they enacted the Standards for Confining Farm Animals measure and it received a place on the ballot.

In order for any measure to successfully succeed after being placed on an official ballot, the supporters of these propositions must be strong advocates for the specific cause which entails strenuous activity in developing a well supported campaign. When dealing with proposition 2 the main campaign support came from the group Californians for Humane Farms and from the Humane Society of the United States. Together these groups formated a campaigning process that resulted in a raising nearly over $5,248,759 . The way they were able to gain support from the people was by having a well developed campaign that involves tedious work from volunteers, and by reaching out to activist with the same demeanor against animal cruelty. As leading supporters on Prop 2 the volunteers initial job was for them to go door to door giving out information, gather thousands of signatures that were pro-Prop 2, and stocking up phone banks by calling voters in an attempt to get the word out even more. As a result, the supporters for Proposition 2 had many donations made, and many faithfully secured votes. This extreme amount of donated money, and support gave the HCF and the HSUS the ability to distribute its fundraising expenses and support those lobbying groups, making their campaign extremely successful.

As apart of the campaigning process for any measure, the supporters and the opposing side must be able to argue the important aspects of their beliefs. On behalf of the proponents, proposition 2 was based around the ideals of creating equal rights for not only humans but broadening the interpretation and speaking out for those who can’t. Animal cruelty in any shape or form is illegal, so why shouldn’t the small confinement of these animals be an exception? The proposed solution is to allow raised veal, chickens, and pregnant pigs the ability to stand, turn around and to fully extend their limbs. The proposition was initiated to help “prevent animal cruelty, improve the health and safety of our food, and the idea that the price of cage-free eggs will go down”. Not only did the proponents of Proposition 2 inform the public about this issue through door to door knocking, and phone calls, but by putting together graphic videos which display the current living conditions of these animals. This tactic is used to instill that horrific image in the minds of the people, thus gaining their support in advancing the law. As for the opposing side, they were able to raise on average a mere $6,894,966. their argument stands with their belief that “egg supply will go down and egg prices will go up, if chickens are not in cages, they are more vulnerable to attacks by predators, including other chickens, it is likely that it would force the state's $300 million egg industry to move out of the state or out of business entirely,” and that expenses for farmers will be much greater.

Both sides of Proposition 2 have developed and well thought out theories that support each side of their campaign. It is now up to each committee to obtain the support of the voters and press their beliefs into reality. Yet, when dealing with such controversy on either sides there is bound to be a great conflict. On September 3, the supporting side of Proposition 2 filled a legitimate case against the opponents stating that “a $250,000 donation from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, gave its donation to United Egg Producers rather than to the No on 2 committee”. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, who’s job it is to oversee the spending and funding in campaigns, agrees that this constitutes as a complete contravention of the California finance laws. These types of filed lawsuits against conflicting campaigns, act simply as road blocks in the politic path of gaining votes, most of which put a small damper on the effects in the voting outcome of the proposition.

Through extensive campaigning and research done by the supporters and the opposing sides, Proposition 2 was able to be voted on with little expectation as to which way it would pass. With an immense amount of supporting votes Proposition 2 passed yes with 8,009,556 votes making it a %63.5 approval rating. As for the opposing side 4,622,352, voters voted no on the Proposition 2 leaving a rate of %36.5. This landslide in the results is not shocking to me at all. I feel as though the supporting side provided the public with the most honest truth and fought for the rights of the animals. There was supporting evidence through out the mass media that the proponents of Prop 2 wanted the registered voters to see. This tactic became more than beneficial in the voting polls. Along with other supporters I feel that in no way would I agree with the opposing side. This is purely due to the fact that no animal deserves to live in those types of conditions. As for the development of the campaign there are always things that could have been changed or run differently to make it stronger, such as fundraising and promoting more awareness of the issue at hand. But in any case the supporters of this proposition I feel as though ran a very successful and admirable campaign. Their main goal was to inform and make a difference, and through the stages of political democracy they were able to accomplish their desired purpose.

The political system in the state of California is one of the most extensive, due to obtaining the longest federal state constitution. As citizens of this state we are able to advance in the political system and supply others with the chance to vote and challenge important debatable issues. Whether the measures address the safety of animals, a new health care system, or even raising or lowering taxes, it is our job as registered voters in California to take a stands on these issues either opposing or supporting. Proposition 2 is a fine example of how the political system works in the state of California. I fully stand behind the voters who votes yes on Prop 2 and I admired the journey that it has made.
It demonstrates the developing process of a measure, and how it initially made its way on to the ballot, gained support and in the end finished with a greater outcome of success.