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California Ballot Measures Raise $65M In 2nd Quarter

Customers buy products at a medical marijuana dispensary, April 20, 2016.
Associated Press
Customers buy products at a medical marijuana dispensary, April 20, 2016.

Campaigns supporting and opposing California's 17 ballot initiatives have reported raising at least $65 million from April through June, according to paperwork filed this week with the secretary of state.

The vast majority of campaign fundraising typically occurs in the three months before an election. If that holds true, California could see a record amount spent on ballot initiatives this year.

Here are some of the initiatives attracting the most fundraising in the last quarter:


Drug prices

Pharmaceutical companies reported raising $16.5 million to oppose Proposition 61, an initiative to limit what the state can pay for prescription drugs, bringing the opposition campaign's cash on hand to a whopping $66 million. The only major contribution supporting the initiative to mandate that California pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for prescriptions was $5 million from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Tax increases

An association of hospitals gave a $9 million loan to Proposition 56, the campaign for a $2 tax increase on every pack of cigarettes sold in California. Initiative supporters ended last quarter with about $10 million in the bank. Tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and Altria affiliates gave $16 million to defeat it in July, after the quarter ended. A separate proposal to extend a tax on high-income earners through 2030 to benefit public schools and health care has drawn no opponents, but that hasn't kept supporters from fundraising. The California Teachers Association has given $13 million this year to support Proposition 55 and union groups gave another $900,000 from April through June, bringing the campaign's bank account to $14 million.

Marijuana legalization


Six separate campaigns supporting an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana received a total of $6.8 million from April through June, and have reported another $3 million since then. Law enforcement officers and anti-drug associations have given about $130,000 to a campaign opposing Proposition 64 since April.

Hospital fees for Medi-Cal

Opponents of the proposal requiring voter approval of changes to hospital fees for state-subsidized health care revved up two campaigns with nearly $8 million in contributions in the last quarter. But opponents' $3.6 million cash on hand is still far less than the $18 million Proposition 52 advocates have in the bank, despite receiving no contributions since March.

Criminal justice reform

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, contributed $2.6 million from his ballot initiative committee for his proposal to expand sentencing credits in prison, allow parole for nonviolent felons and make other reforms to the state criminal justice system. The California Democratic Party, unions and a few individuals gave another $2.3 million to Proposition 57. No opposition campaign has been reported.

Gun control

A proposal by Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to require background checks to buy firearm ammunition and prohibit large-capacity magazines reported $1.8 million in contributions from April through June, and received another $400,000 from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker on July 1. Opponents of Proposition 63 reported contributions totaling about $200,000 last quarter.