The problem with Prop. 65: It’s more than just plastic bags

With 17 propositions on the ballot next week, California voters may have a difficult time voting.

Although some propositions are straightforward and easy to understand, others are convoluted and require outside research before you can feel informed enough to make an educated decision. Among their decisions in this election, California voters must decide about legalizing marijuana in Prop. 64 and supporting the death penalty in Prop. 62, to name a few.

Other propositions seemingly require less thought, as their implications are less severe. For instance, Prop. 67 proposes a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Many students at the University of San Diego may already be accustomed to bringing their own bags when they go grocery shopping, as San Diego County has a ban on single-use plastic bags. Thus, making a decision about whether or not to vote yes on Prop. 67 might be a simple choice, since it wouldn’t affect San Diego specifically.

Even propositions that seem straightforward should be carefully considered. This can be especially important when policymakers might have an agenda to serve with propositions. One proposition in particular on this year’s ballot seems designed to trick people: Prop. 65.

This year’s voter guide provided a basic explanation of the proposition.

“[The proposition would] redirect money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carry out bags [and] require stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental project,” the voter guide said.

However, the proposition is misleading. A little research revealed that Prop. 65 is actually sponsored by out-of-state plastic companies who rely on the use of plastic bags to make their profit. Although a very small portion of the funds from the proposition would actually help the environment, the majority of the money would go to these plastic companies in North Carolina and Texas, according to the Los Angeles Times. The environmental impact of making and using plastic far outweighs any good this proposition would do for the environment.

Unfortunately, without any research, for those trying to be green, this proposition sounds great. As a result, Prop. 65 might pass because of people thinking they are helping the environment, when in actuality Prop. 65 serves to hurt it, due to the increase of plastic bags likely to end up in the ocean.

According to Ballotpedia, an online political encyclopedia, not a single California newspaper has endorsed a “yes” vote for Prop. 65. The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Orange County Register, and The San Diego Union-Tribune are among dozens of California papers that have urged voters to issue a “no” vote for the proposition.

No matter how simple a proposition might seem, it’s important to inform yourself of both sides of the issue. One foolproof way of gaining a better insight about what Prop. 65 will actually do is to see who’s sponsoring it, as it hints at the proposition’s true intentions.

Senior Emma Uriarte, an environmental studies minor, said she worries about the ramifications that uninformed voters might have on the environment.

“It  gives    environmentalism a bad name when people pull the environment card but don’t actually do anything to help it,” Uriarte said. “Because of the wording of Prop. 65, it seems like the right thing to do if you support the environment, but, unfortunately, it is not.”

If you read deeper into Prop. 65, it becomes clear it isn’t what it seems. Hidden and agendas and complex word choice elicited confusion from voter. This is why it is important to do your part to understand each proposition and what it stands for. A little bit of research can go a long way, and the only way to make sound choices is to inform yourself to the best of your ability.

By Dani DeVries, Opinion Editor