California voters on Tuesday approved state Proposition 56 by an overwhelming 63-37 percent margin to create a new excise tax of $2 per pack on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The margin of victory was a shock: Similar ballot initiatives failed in 2012 and 2006, and tobacco companies spent $71 million to blitz the state with dramatic advertising urging a No vote.
The old-school image of a rock star was a guy smoking a cigarette, and Tris Imboden was that guy. As the drummer for the band Chicago for the past quarter-century, or on the road with Kenny Loggins or Chaka Khan, smokes were just part of what it meant to be a musician. What it meant to be cool.
It’s been 105 years since California voters were granted, by a progressive governor and his forward-thinking allies, the right to make laws at the ballot box. We were not the first to gain the privilege; 11 states got there first. Today 24 states allow for direct legislation, which they exercise with varying degrees of intensity when the need arises.
A snapshot of some of this election year’s high-rolling corporate donors.
This week Capital & Main examines several of the 17 voter initiatives, taking a hard look at corporate influence over California’s ballot-box legislation.