With the November election next week, we invited two political experts onto Valley Edition to talk about the propositions on the ballot.  Fresno Bee Editorial Page Editor and Columnist Bill McEwen and Fresno State Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke join Valley Edition host Joe Moore for a conversation about the measures including the water bond, indian gaming and more. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In most years, the race for state controller is largely overshadowed by contests for other statewide offices. But this year, the contest between Betty Yee and Ashley Swearengin has attracted wide interest, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.

Yee, a Democrat and a member of the Board of Equalization narrowly edged out John Perez for second place in the June primary. And with Democrats splitting their vote between two candidates, Swearengin, who is in her second term as Fresno’s mayor, finished in first.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

In just a few weeks Proposition 48 will ask California voters to approve or reject a plan to build a new Indian casino on Highway 99 north of Madera. Members of the North Fork Rancheria say it’s a vital importance to the future of their tribe while critics, largely backed by other casinos, say it would set a dangerous precedent for what they call "reservation shopping." FM 89’s Diana Aguilera explains what this proposal means for the county and the city of Madera.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In 2004, an initiative called Measure Z saved Fresno's Chaffee Zoo.  The voter-­approved measure allowed for an increase in county sales tax by one tenth of one percent.  Those 10 cents from every $100 spent in Fresno County prevented the zoo from raising its entry fees, while allowing it to make crucial repairs and add new exhibits, like Sea Lion Cove and African Adventure.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.

When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the dust has settled after this month's general election, political observers from across the state are busy examining the results to see just what effect California's efforts at redistricting and electoral reform had in their first full test at the ballot box. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore reports that in same cases, the result is too close to call. 

For most California voters, the trip to the ballot box this November looked much like it always has, albeit with longer lines at some polling places and a record number of "vote by mail" ballots.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A sales tax that for over a decade has helped fund much of the budget for the Fresno County Public Library system appears to be headed to approval. 

While some absentee ballots remain to be counted, Measure B holds a lead of 72-percent to 28-percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. That's well above the two-thirds vote required for passage. 

Proposition 38: Molly Munger's Tax Initative

Oct 18, 2012

Californians will soon decide whether they want to increase taxes to support public schools. Our election 2012 coverage continues with a report on Proposition 38.

If you watch TV in California, you’ve probably seen the commercials. They’ve aired in every major market.

Prop 38 would raise about 10 billion dollars a year for K-12 schools starting in 2013, by taxing all but the poorest Californians. Behind the TV ads and Proposition 38 is wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

Proposition 37: Genetically Modified Foods

Oct 17, 2012

In November Californians will decide whether to require that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients say so on the package.  On its face Proposition 37 seems like a simple addition to a label, but it could have much broader ramifications. 

Stacy Malkan with the group supporting Prop 37 says consumers have the right to know what's in the food they're eating.

"This is America, it's a democracy, it’s a free market system, and the way it’s supposed to work is we give people the information  so consumers can make informed choices about what we buy and eat."

Proposition 36: Changes to 'Three Strikes' Law

Oct 17, 2012
Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

A challenge to California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law is on the ballot this fall with Proposition 36.  Proponents say some felonies should not result in life in prison.  Opponents say a change in the law would allow dangerous  criminals to be released.  

The proposition lists felonies that would qualify as a serious or violent crime - or 'strike' - and would make a defendant eligible for a life sentence. 

Proposition 34: Death Penalty Repeal

Oct 11, 2012
Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

Our series on the initiatives Californians will be voting on next month continues with a look at Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty.

Both sides of the capital punishment debate actually see eye to eye on one thing – the current system isn’t working.

“We haven’t put somebody to death in six years. It is simply a broken system that’s wasted $4 billion or $5 billion," says Steve Smith with the Yes on 34 campaign. 

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Premiums

Oct 10, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

We continue our look at next month’s California election ballot with Proposition 33. It would change state laws on auto insurance premiums.

If you’ve been with the same car insurance company for five-straight years or more, you’re probably getting some type of “continuous coverage” discount. But let’s say you wanted to switch to a different company. Right now in California, you can’t take that discount with you.

“Prop 33 would allow consumers to shop that discount to competing carriers," says Rachel Hooper, who is with the Yes on Prop 33 campaign. 

Proposition 32 would ban direct campaign contributions from unions and corporations, and ban automatic paycheck deductions for political purposes. But rarely do two competing sides disagree so sharply about a measure’s impact.

Supporters say it would level California’s political playing field by clamping down on special interest money. John Kabateck is with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business advocacy group. 

Proposition 30: Gov. Brown's Tax Initiative

Oct 9, 2012
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Election Day is still weeks away, but voting in California actually begins this week as counties send out vote-by-mail ballots. Today, we kick off our look at the 11 statewide measures Californians will decide this fall – and we begin with Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Californians can soon register to vote completely online. Paperless registration will be available to anyone who has a California driver’s license or ID.

Since 2009 Californians have been able to go online and fill out a form as part of the voter registration process. But signatures had to be mailed or delivered to county elections officials. Secretary of State Debra Bowen will soon roll out the next step, which would allow Californians who have a driver’s license or ID to hit “send” at the end of their online form.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

It’s often said that Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff to campaign season.  And as California voters begin to turn their attention now to the 11 statewide ballot measures this fall, one initiative is by far drawing the most attention.

Proposition 30 is Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to raise the sales and income taxes to help close the state’s festering budget deficit. The governor has a big fundraising advantage – and he’s managed to keep some powerful opponents on the sidelines. Mark DiCamillo runs the non-partisan Field Poll, and he says Prop 30 holds a steady lead.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown says Californians have two choices; vote yes on Proposition 30 in November, or see schools and higher education lose billions of dollars. The Governor kicked off the campaign for his tax initiative in front of a Sacramento high school.

Governor Brown says his tax initiative is needed to stave off deep budget cuts, which could include shortening the school year by three weeks. The November ballot measure would increase sales taxes by a quarter cent for four years and increase taxes for seven years on those who make more than $250,000 dollars annually.

A new analysis shows that campaign committees already are spending millions of dollars on propositions for California’s November’s ballot. The analysis, by the Fair Political Practices Commission, shows by the end of June, committees had raised more than $84 million to fight or support the 11 ballot measures.

The Commission’s report looked at donors who gave $10,000 or more. While the state limits what an individual donor can give state candidates, there are no limits on the amount of money committees can contribute to ballot measures.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The US Department of Justice announced this morning that it has reached an agreement with Merced County that will let election officials there avoid the process of having to clear many voting decisions with the federal government.

This week on Valley Edition, we preview the upcoming June primary election and talk about this year's ballot measures and candidates. We also debate the pros and cons of attachment parenting with moms and with an expert in child development. And finally we get a preview of this year's Nights in the Plaza Friday night concert series at Arte Americas in Fresno.

On Valley Edition May 15, 2012: