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Propositions divide voters

Posted: June 5, 2012 11:48 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2012 11:48 p.m.
 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — While early election returns showed Californians divided Tuesday on whether to slap an additional $1-per-pack tax on tobacco products, voters approved a tweak to term limits that supporters say will promote consistency and reduce the influence of lobbyists.

With 8 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 29 was eking out a narrow lead with 52 percent of the vote.

The attempt to increase cigarettes taxes in the nation’s most populous state has attracted nationwide attention, with tobacco companies helping to raise $47 million to quash the effort and celebrities like cycling legend Lance Armstrong urging voters to support it.

Tobacco taxes have been proven to reduce smoking. But opponents say the initiative would create an unaccountable bureaucracy and hurt the economy by sending tax money raised in California to other states.

An extra tax in the nation’s most populous state also could mean major losses for tobacco companies.
Voter support for the initiative began falling this spring after the opposition campaign launched a flurry of radio and television commercials, one of which featured a Central Valley physician.
The Public Policy Institute of California found that support for the initiative dropped from 67 percent in March to 53 percent by late May.

Proposition 28
Proposition 28 will limit lawmakers to 12 years, but allow them to spend that time in one house or a combination in both houses of the state Legislature.

The measure had about two-thirds support with more than 2 million votes cast Tuesday night.

Currently, lawmakers can serve up to three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate, for a total of 14 years.

Good government organizations argued that California’s strict term limits assure that the statehouse is filled with inexperienced politicians who are overly reliant on lobbyists and bureaucrats to help them write legislation.

Critics warned the change would lead to entrenchment in the state Capitol.

Low turnout
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein easily advanced to the November ballot in California’s statewide primary Tuesday
Feinstein, the 78-year-old incumbent Democrat, easily advanced to the general election, where she will face the next highest vote-getter among the 23 challengers she faced on Tuesday’s ballot, 14 of them Republicans.

Others who turned out were hopeful that the new top-two system will deliver more competitive contests and more moderate candidates even as they were confronted with a longer, more complicated ballot. In some cases, candidates of the same party are vying to meet again in November.

“I think it helps to level the playing field,” said attorney Susan Hyman after casting her Democratic ballot at a skilled nursing facility in Long Beach. “The districts have been too entrenched by party.”

State election officials reported few problems at the polls. Voters in Sacramento County may have noticed Chinese added to English and Spanish on their ballots, prompted by the results of the U.S. Census.

Democrats hope to pick up as many as six seats from California’s 53 congressional districts and have been working to register more voters in traditionally Republican-leaning areas of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire region of Southern California.

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