There are two propositions on the June California ballot which are sponsored by a company. Proposition 16 has received the vast majority of its funding from Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Proposition 17 has received almost all of its funding from Mercury Insurance. Both have been criticized as power grabs from corporations.
Proposition 16 would require a 2/3 vote for local governments to establish a public power company. One could argue that the idea came from PG&E to maintain their control of electricity generation in their market areas. That indeed may be part of the rationale. But there is another very good rationale. Units of local government say they are strapped for cash. It is likely that some would look to taking over the electricity business as something which could help balance their books. That story never gets brought up in the press coverage. Ultimately, for something as momentous as creation of a public power company, it seems like good sense to make it harder to have local governments get into this without strong support from the people in the area. The Oakland Tribune and the Petaluma Press Democrat have editorialized against Proposition 16 - the PPD said "this corporate handout is being billed as a taxpayer protection measure" - what twaddle. Indeed this is supported mostly by one company and indeed it may be related mostly to a fight that PG&E is having with a local Sacramento Municipal utility that wants to expand west. But who cares. The real question is whether voters should have a role when local governments want to set up their own power companies. I say YES. Thus, I am voting yes on Proposition 16.
Proposition 17 would allow insurance companies to offer persistency bonuses to their clients. When Proposition 103 was passed it changed the way insurance companies could rate drivers. For example, it prohibited territorial rating which allowed companies to charge more for insurance in areas where there are more cars. It also prohibited companies for giving discounts to buyers who stay with a company. A good part of the cost of auto insurance is based on the cost of acquiring new insureds. But supporters of Proposition 103 argued that these kinds of bonuses lack an actuarial basis. That is silly, having a customer for a long period of time can offer insurance companies more information about how their insureds use insurance. Do they make a lot of claims? Are they careful drivers? It seems to me that is a legitimate differentiation in a company's ratings. Opponents claim that allowing persistence discounts will encourage companies to install huge surcharges for buyers who constantly shop around. More likely, in a market as competitive as insurance, this change will encourage discounts to those who stay with the same company over time. Both the San Francisco Comical and the LA (Not So Accurate) Times have written editorials against Proposition 17 - buying the opponents arguments that cost will go up. But that is just nonsense if you look at how insurance is sold in the state. Thus I am voting yes on Proposition 17, too.
In both of these ideas, the opponents argue that the proposition itself is bad because of who sponsored it. In both cases, if you look a bit more carefully, in spite of who sponsored the idea, they both make pretty good sense.