Nancy Skinner encourages voters to scrutinize statewide and local ballot measure

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Assembly member Nancy Skinner spoke at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce about ballot measures for the upcoming November election.

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Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is encouraging voters to become informed about statewide and local ballot measures before they head to the polls this November.

Skinner spoke to a group of community representatives at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Monday afternoon about the importance of researching and voting on statewide initiatives and its effect on the city of Berkeley and its residents.

“Change will primarily have to be done through initiatives,” she said. “That’s the way our constitution was written.”

Both Proposition 35 — which aims to enact harsher punishments against those convicted of human trafficking — and Proposition 37 — which would mandate food to be labeled as genetically modified — require voters to carefully read the proposed ballot language since wording can be interpreted differently, she said.

Skinner acknowledged that, despite the vague language, Proposition 35 has a local tie and cited local landowner Lakireddy Bali Reddy who pleaded guilty to smuggling young girls into the country for sex and cheap labor.

“What Prop. 35 does is bring us a step closer to eliminating sex industries that endanger and exploit minors. People don’t think that human trafficking is an issue in California, simply because the sex slave trade is completely underground,” said Farah Kader, co-founder of Not For Sale, a UC Berkeley club that advocates against human trafficking. “It’s just unacceptable that the perpetrators of these crimes get weaker punishments than DUI’s.”

Skinner also commented on several of Berkeley’s local ballot measures but chose not to comment on those she was not well-versed in, including Measure S — the controversial measure that would restrict sitting on the city sidewalks during certain hours of the day.

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce co-CEO Polly Armstrong said Measure S is an important issue for city voters to decide on a longstanding issue.

“The Chamber thinks it is important that the city of Berkeley get a chance to address this issue that’s been around for 40 years,” Armstrong said.

The statewide initiatives that students should be especially concerned about are Measure R — a local ballot measure — and Proposition 30, Skinner said. Measure R addresses the legislative redistricting of Berkeley along non-partisan lines — the student vote is broken up into four regions instead of one single block as it was when Skinner attended UC Berkeley.

Prop. 30 would add extra income tax to Californians who earn more than $250,000 a year. The proposition would also implement a 0.25 percent increase on the statewide sales tax.

This proposition is key to funding for public education because next year’s budget has been planned around its passage. Prop. 30 will bring $6 to $9 billion into the state’s general fund and would balance the budget for a minimum of five years, Skinner said.

“I strongly feel that students should pass Prop. 30 because we can’t afford any more cuts,” Skinner said. “(For) the other initiatives, do your own research. Follow the money. Who is funding what initiatives? That’s how you know if it’s a good thing for you to vote for or not.”

Contact Aliyah and Ally at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Proposition 40 addresses the legislative redistricting of Berkeley along non-partisan lines. In fact, Prop. 40 addresses statewide redistricting, while Measure R is the Berkeley ballot measure concerned with redistricting.