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PD Editorial: A needless and confusing ballot measure

With a possible recount in some counties of Proposition 29, the tobacco tax on the June 5 ballot, the 2012 primary election may not be quite over.

But the Nov. 6 ballot already is shaping up with a long list of initiatives that would, among other things, raise state and local taxes, repeal the death penalty, rescind a tax break for out-of-state businesses, ease the three-strikes law and overhaul the budget process.

At the bottom of the list — and last on the state ballot — is Proposition 40, an orphan from last year's redistricting fight that could bring unnecessary chaos to the state Capitol.

That is, if it fails.

If you haven't already guessed, Proposition 40 is one of those convoluted, through-the-looking-glass products of California's referendum system.

Sponsored by the state Republican Party, Proposition 40 was part of an effort to block new legislative and congressional district boundaries drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The panel was created and empowered by two prior initiatives, both of them supported by the GOP.

However, the commission's new maps appeared to threaten some Republican officeholders, resulting in legal challenges as well as a referendum specifically targeting the state Senate boundaries.

The state Supreme Court upheld the new boundaries, the referendum qualified for the November ballot, and the court refused to block the state from using the new Senate districts for the 2012 election. Last week, amid suggestions that overturning the maps might actually cost the GOP a state Senate seat in 2014, the party abruptly abandoned Proposition 40.

However, it's too late to take it off the ballot.

Wait, as they say on those late-night TV ads, there's more.

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