November election gets even more interesting

California’s November election, already a money-fueled slugfest, just got even more interesting: Nine statewide measures, including dueling initiatives that go to the heart of the state’s fiscal and political landscape, have qualified for the ballot.

More than half of the initiatives qualified on Thursday, the state-imposed deadline, during a nail-biting day for the rival campaigns. One controversial measure, which would have eased term limits by allowing lawmakers to serve up to 12 years in one house of the Legislature, failed to capture enough valid signatures of registered voters to qualify. A 10the measure was placed on the ballot by the Legislature

One initiative that qualified, backed by political party leaders, would abolish the independent commission that voters authorized two years ago to draw legislative districts. Another, which qualified earlier, would expand that same commission’s authority to include congressional districts.

Another measure would enable state budgets to be approved with a simple-majority vote of each house of the Legislature. Supported by labor, public employee unions and Democrats, the goal of the initiative is to limit the gridlock that grips the Capitol during budget negotiations. A rival initiative, backed by business interests and anti-tax groups, would redefine many fees as taxes and require a two-thirds vote for passage.

An initiative pushed by the California Teachers Association to repeal hundreds of millions of dollars worth of corporate tax changes that were approved as part of the last state budget also qualified Thursday. The initiative would limit the ability of businesses to carry back operating losses, share tax credits and use the so-called single sales factor to calculate tax liability.

Earlier, the Legislature placed an $11 billion water projects bond on the ballot. Initiatives that qualified included a measure legalizing marijuana, a prohibition on the state taking funds intended for local transportation projects, a proposal to levy an $18 annual vehicle fee to pay for state parks and a business-backed initiative that would suspend AB 32, the state’s law curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiatives join a statewide ballot that includes the high-stakes gubernatorial contest between former eBay chief Meg Whitman and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the fierce race for the U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina, a former HP top executive.

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