Representational image
Representational image AFP

Californians are set to vote on ten statewide ballot measures when they head to the polls in November, including removing a ban on same-sex marriage, making shoplifting a felony for repeat offenders and banning forced labor in all its forms.

The former proposes removing a ban added to the state constitution in 2008. Even though the Supreme Court has prevented the state from enforcing it since 2013, the language remains there and the amendment seeks to replace it, saying that "the right to marry is a fundamental right."

Moreover, proposal 36 would introduce the aforementioned change, as well as increase penalties for drug charges, including those involving fentanyl. Judges would also be allowed to order those with multiple drug charges to get treatment. Opponents to the proposal have argued that it would disproportionately target poor people rather than drug traffickers and those who hire large groups of people to steal goods for them to resell online.

As for the forced labor proposal, it would remove the only exception for it, which is as punishment for crime. Criminal justice advocates have targeted the language given concerns about prison labor conditions, considering that many such cases have seen inmates earn less than $1 an hour.

Florida also addressed the issue in May, passing a bill preventing state agencies from doing business with companies using forced labor to produce commodities. The bill creates a "Forced Labor Vendor List" that will be updated by the Department of Management Services.

The list will be updated every quarter and companies included will be banned from submitting bids, proposals or replies to state agencies for a year unless an administrative review determines they can be removed from it.

The law also mandates that all state contracts that have gone into effect after July 1 or are renewed after that date must include a termination clause if authorities determine the contractor uses forced labor.

Companies that submit false certifications or are tied to products made with forced labor will be imposed a fine of $1,000 or 20% of the contract's value, whichever is higher.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.