California voters adopted a change to term limits for state legislators, while a proposal to increase the tobacco tax to fund cancer research was narrowly defeated, according to results released early Wednesday by the California Secretary of State's Office.
Proposition 28 was approved by a margin of 61.4 percent to 38.6 percent with all of the state's 21,993 precincts reporting. Proposition 29 was defeated 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.
Proposition 28 will allow a person to serve 12 years either in the Assembly, state Senate or a combination of the two. The previous law generally allowed people to serve three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate. An exception was when an individual finished less than half a term of another person who left the Legislature.
The change will only apply to legislators first elected after the measure is passed.
"Voters understood the need to fix term limits and make the Legislature more accountable," according to a statement from Californians for a Fresh Start, the campaign on behalf of Proposition 28. "They saw past the misleading campaign tactics of out-of-state interests and voted based on the facts.
"Proposition 28 will do exactly what it says—reduce time in office from 14 to 12 years without extending the terms of any sitting legislators. Voters have said tonight they want to continue on the path of reform with this sensible measure."
Californians for a Fresh Start included the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters of California and California Common Cause.
The major financial backing in support of Proposition 28 came from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor ($612,500); Majestic Realty, which is based in the City of Industry ($400,000); Alliance for a Stronger Community ($149,500); LA Live Properties LLC ($100,000); and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce's LA Jobs Political Action Committee ($100,000), according to figures from MapLight, a nonprofit organization that favors greater transparency in government, based on statistics from the Secretary of State's Office.
Majestic Realty is seeking to build a football stadium in Industry. It donated $300,000 to the signature-gathering drive on behalf of the initiative in 2009 shortly after the quick passage of a bill granting it an exemption from potential litigation arising from the California Environmental Quality Act, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Alliance for a Stronger Community was formed in 2008 as a union-backed independent expenditure committee supporting Mark Ridley-Thomas' successful campaign for Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Major financial backing in opposition to Proposition 28 came from Howie Rich, a New York City real estate developer who founded U.S. Term Limits, his wife Andrea, and grown sons Joseph and Daniel ($654,880) and the Liberty Initiative Fund ($100,000), a Woodbridge, Va.-based group that describes itself as helping place measures on ballots to protect individual liberty and hold government accountable.
A similar measure, Proposition 93, was defeated by voters in 2008.
Proposition 29 would have increased the taxes on each cigarette distributed by five cents ($1 per pack) and an equivalent increase on other tobacco products to fund cancer research and finance prevention programs. It would also have created a nine-member committee to administer the funds raised from the measure.
Major funding in support of Proposition 29 came from the American Cancer Society ($8.47 million); the foundation of the retired cycling champion Lance Armstrong ($1.5 million); the American Heart Association ($563,594); New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($500,000); and the American Lung Association ($421,986), according to MapLight.
Major funding in opposition to Proposition 29 came from five tobacco companies —Phillip Morris ($27.53 million); R.J. Reynolds ($11.17 million); U.S. Smokeless Tobacco ($3.04 million); American Snuff Co. ($1.75 million); and the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. ($1.15 million).
Propositions 28 and 29 will be the last measures to appear on a statewide primary ballot. SB 202, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 7, 2011, restricts future ballot measures to November general election ballots.