California's plastic bag ban — and the resulting fallout from a state legislature vote — has a long and complicated past.
But a non-profit group has boiled it down to a few brief lines you can sing along to if you get confused.
The California Voter Foundation is a non-partisan group that publishes a voting guide to help California's voters sort through everything they'll find on the ballot each year, including its ballot proposals.
That guide can be long and confusing thanks to both the complexities of each issue and California's tradition of allowing citizens to get proposals before voters fairly easily.
For the plastics industry, that tradition made it possible for it to put two proposals on the 2016 vote: A question about whether voters should reject the bag ban that the legislature and governor approved in 2014; and a second question asking if stores can keep the fee charged for paper and reusable bags, which was part of that same 2014 vote.
Thing is, those two propositions are part of 17 separate ballot propositions. Rounding up all the background on all of those complicated questions isn't easy.
The state of California's official voting guide is a hefty 224 pages, if you choose to print it out. (Of course printing out all those pages may wreck any environmentalism points someone might think they've earned by voting in favor of the bag ban.)
So for the last few years, the California Voter Foundation has also offered a brief rundown of the propositions set to some simple folk music chords. Or as they put it:
“It's the proposition song.
You should all be singing along,
‘Cuz the ballot's too darn long.”
The song is accompanied by a video with the lyrics, to make it even easier for citizens to learn more. If you just want to check out the plastics content, you can skip ahead to about the third minute of the video. Or just along read here:
“Prop 65 is sponsored by the plastics industry,
If passed grocers will not pocket carry-out bag fees.
The money would instead go toward state wildlife conservation,
Opponents say the true goal here is mass voter confusion.”
A short break for the chorus and another proposition, and they're on to the question of the ban itself:
“We've come to the last measure,
This one's a referendum.
It seeks to nullify a law,
It's called Prop 67.
Well just a few years back,
Lawmakers passed a plastic bag ban.
Vote yes on 67 if,
You think that's a good plan.”
So it's not exactly a Top 10 hit when it comes to songwriting. But you try and find rhymes for two different ballot proposals related to the death penalty — and don't forget to use politically-neutral wording appropriate for a non-partisan group.
Music may be one of the best ways to engage a sense of civic pride. After all, how many of you out there know what happens after the words: “I'm just a bill, yes I'm only and bill …”
Maybe this song should get an award anyway, just for encouraging voter participation. After all, as the singers put it at the end:
“You don't have to vote on every prop,
See voting's not a test.
Just remember to vote my friends,
And try to do your best.”