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Insights: Ballot Measures, Gun Control Legislation

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July 8, 2016

Ballot Measures Finalized for November Election

As widely anticipated, California voters will be asked to pass judgment on a variety of ballot measures on the November 2016 ballot.  Seventeen questions – ranging from ending the use of the death penalty to extending taxes to recreational marijuana use – have qualified.

The Golden State’s initiative process – first enacted to wrestle control of state politics from railroad barons and major corporations – has evolved into big business.  It is very hard for grassroots organizations to gather enough signatures but well-financed campaigns can put a phalanx of signature gathers into the field.

If this year seems particularly crowded, it is because in 2011 the State Legislature mandated that all ballot initiatives be decided during the General Election on the first Tuesday in November.

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops occasionally takes positions on ballot initiatives.  For instance, the last time voters were asked to repeal the use of the death penalty the Bishops urged support for the measure.  The Conference’s positions for this election cycle, if any, will be announced in the coming weeks.

As is also the case, the Conference website will post analysis of all the initiatives with reference to applicable Catholic social teaching.  Watch for that as the summer progresses.

For the complete list of measures and links to their actual text, click here.

Governor Sorts Out Gun Control Legislation

Governor Jerry Brown made his voice known in the ongoing gun control debate, signing six new gun-control measures into law including restrictions on assault rifles, adds background checks to ammunition purchases and bans the possession of ammunition magazines with more than 10 bullets.

These newly approved measure come on the heels of the re-sparked national gun-control debate following the terror attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The Governor also vetoed five bills, one of which would have expanded this year’s new law that uses restraining orders to remove guns from people classified as dangerous.

Prior to these new bills being enacted, California already had some of the strictest gun laws in the entire nation. According to the Governor’s office, the newly approved measures will “enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

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CRS Scales Up Response to Help Victims of Boko Haram in Niger

Responding to a recent surge in violence, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is increasing help for victims of Boko Haram in the Diffa region of Niger, where one out of every two people has been forced from their home by this violent radical group.

“We are preparing for the situation to get worse before it gets better,” says Bill Rastetter, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative in Niger.

Since the violence began affecting Diffa two years ago, CRS has been distributing basic supplies -- blankets, soap, kitchen materials, and plastic jugs -- to help refugees, displaced people, and host families meet their daily needs.

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July 8, 2016        
Vol. 9, No. 23

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