Besides Proposition 14, the open primary initiative, businesses are interested in several other issues on the June statewide ballot. Among them:
• Proposition 13 would grant a permanent tax break for seismic retrofit work on unreinforced masonry buildings. Currently, when such retrofit work is done, the building is exempt from reassessment for 15 years. This measure would extend the exemption until the owner sells.
This would help commercial and residential landlords who own thousands of unreinforced masonry buildings in Los Angeles County because the cost of a major seismic retrofit can surpass 15 years worth of tax exemptions.
The measure has no formal opposition.
• Proposition 15 would set up a pilot program for the financing of the campaign for the post of California secretary of state for the 2014 and 2018 elections. The money would come from tripling of registration fees for business lobbyists in Sacramento, which would bring in an additional $1.7 million a year. Lobbying firms are opposed.
• Proposition 16 would require a two-thirds approval from voters before a local government can enter the retail power business. Pacific Gas & Electric, the giant investor-owned utility that serves Northern California, is the primary sponsor, raising more than $35 million to date. While Southern California Edison, the utility subsidiary of Rosemead-based Edison International, would also likely benefit from this measure, it is not taking a position. Business groups are split; supporters favor tighter controls on government spending while opponents say the measure would perpetuate utility monopolies.
• Proposition 17 would allow auto insurance companies to lure new customers by offering discounts to longtime customers of other insurance companies. It would also allow auto insurance companies to levy surcharges on drivers who let their policies lapse more than 90 days. L.A.-based Mercury General Corp. is the primary sponsor, contributing more than $5.3 million to the campaign to date; the aggressive discounter says it wants to compete for more customers.
Meanwhile, Mercury faces charges from Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner who is a gubernatorial candidate, that it overcharged and discriminated against some customers, and some of those campaigning against Proposition 17 are exploiting that controversy. Insurance brokers and agents, some of whom are Mercury agents, generally support the measure. The Association of California Insurance Companies has endorsed the measure, but is not actively campaigning for it.
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