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California gears up for November elections

With the Nov. 7 election only weeks away, debate is flaring over acts like Propositions 83, 85 and 86 and the potential effects they could have on Californians if passed.

Proposition 83
Proposition 83, also known as Jessica’s Law, would revise California sex offense laws by increasing penalties and restricting sex offenders’ privacy.

According to CBS News, the nickname is derived from a Florida law passed in May after 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was raped and buried alive by a registered sex offender who did not report his address to the government.

Mills sophomore Claudia Bugarin says the raising of a sex offender’s jail sentence from potentially no time in jail to 15-25 years in prison is good because the current system is not fair.

Bugarin said that when she was 13, a man exposed his genitals to her. When she and 12 other children reported him, the man was sentenced to community service.

“Community service is nothing for scarring the lives of 13 girls,” Bugarin said, adding that increased jail time would keep offenders like this man off the street.

The act would prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, which Carleen Aldrich, president of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said will push the criminals out of cities like San Francisco and Oakland and into towns with fewer police available to monitor them.

Proposition 83 will also require sex offenders to wear Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices on their belts, wrists or ankles so police officials can keep track of them. The criminals would be responsible for system costs as long as they are financially able.
Bugarin said the GPS device would alert police if a sex offender stalks children at schools and thus prevent repeat crimes.

According to the sample ballot, California holds approximately 90,000 sex offenders; because of this, sophomore Kaitlin Malcolm said, there are too many criminals to monitor with any success.

“It’s a good idea, but in practice, 90,000 is a lot to control,” Malcolm said.

Proposition 85
According to the Attorney General’s summary of the propositions, Proposition 85 will overturn a 1953 California law that grants girls under 18 the right to an abortion without parental consent by requiring a physician to notify a minor’s parents.

This act was defeated last year when it was called Proposition 73.

According to Maya Ingram, Public Affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, 300 words defining the beginning of life were removed from the original act and two escape clauses were added.

Ingram said one clause allows judges to waive the notification requirement and the other allows parents to sign one of three waivers which forfeit notification rights. Their choices would be a 30-day waiver, a year-long waiver or a waiver that lasts until the minor turns eighteen, the age at which teens become legal adults.

The Mills chapter of Choice USA is against Proposition 85. Their president, junior Erin Mowlds, said that girls with violent parents or parents who may disown them over a pregnancy will be too scared to talk to them about their problems.

Organizations such as Yes On 85 and Parents Right 2 Know say that teen girls must have parental permission to receive aspirin at school or pierce their ears, so minors should not undergo invasive surgery like an abortion on their own.

Albin Rhomberg, the spokesperson for Parents Right 2 Know, also said that parental notification laws will encourage parent/child dialogue and thus the teen will be less likely to engage in risky behavior that will anger the parent.

“When you involve parents, you change behavior,” Rhomberg said.

While Malcolm said that most teens do talk to their parents, she says that governments should not force teens to talk.

“Healthy relationships breed talking, not law,” she said.

Proposition 86
Proposition 86 would increase the extra taxes placed on tobacco products, called excise taxes, from the 87 cents taken now by $2.60 per pack. The extra tax money from this raise would be distributed among hospitals, health programs, nursing education and anti-tobacco awareness efforts.

Supporters of the proposition say that the increase in tobacco cost will decrease the amount of cigarettes and other products smoked.

Junior Elyse Bret Harte Lyon, who smokes three-fourths of a pack a day, said that the higher taxes will not reduce her cigarette use but will affect how her money is spent.

“Higher taxes are going to mean I will eat less,” Lyon said.

Both Malcolm and sophomore Rose Munday support the higher tobacco tax because they said smoking has become too much of a health risk to ignore and that health programs are important to combat the effects of tobacco use.

Munday, a student in the nursing program, said that she knew smoking must be stopped when she saw the cadaver of a smoker and was horrified at the state of his lungs.

“It looked like a black and rotten cantaloupe,” she said.
She said she will vote yes on 86 so that she will never see such a lung again.

Lyon said that California has more important issues to worry about than smoking and that funding for war and education should come first.

“Drug education is fine, but we have no education,” she said.