Over the last few weeks I've written a ton about California’s Proposition 23, but thanks to a few reader comments on these posts, I'm now aware of Proposition 26.

After writing about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s efforts to defeat Proposition 23, a poster identified by the name Earl Richards wrote, “Prop 26 is a treacherous Big Oil rip-off, which passes the buck from oil corporation clean-up fees to the [tax-paying] public, who will pay the oil recycling fees and the materials hazards fees.” Following Richards’ comments came another comment with links about who is funding Propositions 23 and 26.

This just goes to show you that MNN readers are ahead of the game! Suddenly, news about Proposition 26 is getting some serious traction, including a mention in Politico.

So here is the deal with Prop. 26: According to UCLA’s Law School, Proposition 26 “proposes to expand the definition of a 'tax' under California law. As a result of this expansion, some fees and other charges imposed by the state or by cities or counties could no longer be enacted by a simple majority vote of the Legislature. Instead, a two-third supermajority vote would be required — the same vote now required to pass a budget or a new tax.”
Essentially, this means it would become much harder for California to charge polluters up-front fees for the public costs of polluting, including perceived health risks and environmental harm. As for getting a two-third “supermajority” to make sure polluters pay their fair share, that’s unlikely. If you think the U.S. Congress is a bitter mess of inefficiency and partisan politicking, the California Legislature is even worse.
So California enviros, beware. There are two ballot initiatives to take note of on Election Day: Propositions 23 and 26. Each is confusing, each deals with regulation and the environment, and apparently each is on the minds' of MNN readers.