Off the 99: Proposition 16

The Merced Irrigation District, along with a coalition of locally-owned public utilities, filed a lawsuit Thursday to disqualify a June 8 ballot measure.

Proposition 16, which was bankrolled by Pacific Gas and Electric, Co., would create the "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act." It's a new law that would prohibit any public utility from expanding its service area without the support from two-thirds of the local electorate inside the existing service area and in the new area to be served.

Supporters of Proposition 16 say it gives voters the final say before public agencies enter the "risky" business of utilities. Opponents say the ballot measure helps PG&E monopolize local markets.

This week, "Off the 99" interviewed Hicham Eltal, deputy general manager of the Merced Irrigation District; Mindy Spatt, communications director for The Utility Reform Network; and Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for the Yes on 16 campaign, about the coming ballot measure.

Download the audio file.