Posted November 20, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion
 
 

Woah, That Election Just Happened

Here’s The Good News

By Issac Scott & Felix Chrome

If you’re anything like 63.7 percent of eligible voters, you probably didn’t vote in the midterm elections this year—either because you forgot, couldn’t figure out how, didn’t care, or you think voting is just uncool/not part of the anarchist revolution. Hey, we here at the Cooper Point Journal are supposedly journalists, and it never occurred to us once that we should even think about the election, let alone, like, write about what was on the ballot. That was until our first staff meeting after the fact, and then we were all like, “woah, that election just happened.”

It was the most expensive midterm election in history. Overall, apathy for the electoral process is at an all time high. And the people who actually are voting seem be either the kind of climate change denying fascists who spend their time brandishing a fetus sign outside of Planned Parenthood, or who celebrate Veterans Day getting day drunk and painting a giant American flag on their Ford F150 while blasting Kid Rock in their driveway. I’m describing exactly the opposite people any reasonable person wants to have a disproportionate influence on our political process. No offence to Kid though, “All Summer Long” is the jam.

But fortunately for us, the West Coast seems to have yet to descend fully into the Idiocracy-style dystopia in which Sarah Palin narrates the constant NFL game broadcast non-stop on TVs surgically affixed to our faces from birth. Pass me the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew! Miraculously, some good things were accomplished on our coast thanks to people voting in the midterm elections, and no thanks to everyone who didn’t vote (myself included). To counter the mood of utter despair, here is a roundup of good news that came out of the elections in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Oregon Tokes Up
Oregon Measure 91
Yes 56% – No 44%

Unsurprisingly, marijuana prohibition is falling apart everywhere that isn’t Texas or Arizona. This is good news for literally everyone, except for racist cops. What is surprising, though, is how much better Oregon’s law is than Washington’s. The law contains the same kind of laid-back regulation that helped make Oregon a microbrew mecca, while Washington flounders in hoppy mediocracy.

Some key differences: Oregon will allow possession up to 8 ounces, compared to just 1 ounce in Washington. Oregon will allow people to grow their own pot at home, while Washingtonians need to apply for a license. Washington sharply delineates between producers and distributors, but in Oregon, farmers will be able to sell their own legal weed, and even open their own retail stores. Oregonians will be taxed around 12 percent compared to 44 percent in Washington. This way the state also hopes retailers can compete with the black market. Furthermore, Oregon will allow out-of-state investment in marijuana businesses, unlike Washington.

These are all things lawmakers in the Washington Liquor Control Commission (WLCC), the group tasked with regulating marijuana, should pay close attention to as it continues to figure out how to implement the law. So far, the legalization process has been marred in the Evergreen State by the extremely high prices of legal weed, and far too little supply. The lack of vertical integration and paucity of licenses for both growers and retailers is to blame. Ironically, Washingtonians—who were so proud of being the first to make the stuff legal—may soon be crossing the Columbia take advantage of the plentiful and cheap weed. -IS

Washington Background Checks for Guns
Washington Initiative 594
Yes 58.8% – No 41.2%

Washington state now requires background checks for every gun sale. While they were already required for certain types of sales, the confusing patchwork of state and federal laws left plenty of loopholes for those who wanted to avoid a background check.

This measure makes the rules regarding background checks on purchases from licensed gun dealers applicable to all gun sales in the state. This means background checks are now required any time someone gives someone else a gun, even casual deals between friends, or guns sold on Craigslist. It also closes the “gun show loophole” liberal politicians and pundits love to rant about on TV.

There are, however, a few things the law could not cover. Gifts of guns between family members and the purchase of antique firearms still remain background check-free.

There was another, opposite, gun-related measure on the ballot this time around, Initiative 591. This one failed, but would have prevented Washington state from implementing any gun control measures beyond what the federal government already requires.

The measure also inexplicably wished to ban the government from confiscating people’s guns. Since both the federal and state constitutions clearly ban seizing private property without due process, this is a totally unfounded fear primarily used for NRA fundraising and filling time on FOX News. -FC

$15 Minimum Wage in SF
Proposition J
Yes 76.8% – No 23.2%

Seattle’s arch rival, San Francisco, has followed in the Emerald City’s footsteps by becoming the second United States city to implement a $15 minimum wage. Voters overwhelmingly approved the proposition, and the 23 percent of SF workers who make minimum wage will see their pay raise to $12.25 this spring, and gradually to $15 by 2018. San Francisco already has the highest minimum wage in the country, but the cost of living in the city has skyrocketed in recent years. This measure will increase workers’ incomes by about $2,800 each year, according to a study by University of California Berkeley.

In June, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to become the first city in the country to implement a $15 minimum wage, thanks to a campaign led by socialist city councilor Kshama Sawant.

In Oregon, state law prevents Portland from raising its minimum wage for all workers, but it can raise wages for people employed by the city. Multnomah County, in which Portland sits, agreed to raise the wages for all county employees to $15 by 2016, after reaching a deal with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Proponents of a living wage are pushing for the Oregon state legislature to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15, or repeal the law preventing the City of Portland acting on its own. -IS

Drug and Property Crimes No Longer Felonies in CA
Proposition 47
Yes 58.5% – No 41.5%

California voters passed a proposition reducing many non-violent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Unless someone has been previously convicted of a murder, rape, or certain violent gun crimes, possession of any illegal drug for “personal use” is no longer a felony. Additionally, the threshold that makes many property crimes such as shoplifting, check fraud, and possession of stolen goods a felony has been raised to $950, up from $450.

As many as 10,000 people in prison could be eligible for early release, according to the official California Voters Guide. The measure allows re-sentencing for those in prison for felonies that are now considered misdemeanors if a judge declares they “do not pose a risk to the public.” Judges have already begun issuing orders to release some prisoners with felony convictions, and people in jail awaiting felony charges are already being released.

Moving forward the California Legislative Analyst’s Office says around 40,000 annually will be affected by the changes, and could mean thousands less people go to prison each year. Those who were previously convicted of a felony can apply to have it changed to a misdemeanor on their record, allowing them better access to jobs, housing, and voting rights.

The measure will save California hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to the Attorney General of California, or $1 billion in the next five years, according to the ACLU. The money saved will go into a “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” also created by the ballot initiative. The fund benefits California schools, as well as drug rehab and mental health programs.

California has notoriously over-crowded prisons. According to a New York Times report, the incarcerated population has grown 750 percent since the mid 1970s. This initiative was part of a larger plan to attempt to reduce the prison population since a federal court ruled that California did not have the proper resources for the number of incarcerated people, saying they had to reduce the population by 40,000 by 2016.

Until recent radical reversals of policy at the hands of voters, the California criminal justice system has exemplified the “tough on crime” atmosphere of post war on drugs United States. California consistently incarcerates more people than any other state, and their infamous three strikes law, and others like it, mean massive amounts of people are serving life in prison Proposition 47 represents an important step in reversing the tide of mass incarceration. -FC