It broadly declared that Proposition 218’s restrictions on taxation only applied to local governments. Collectively, those measures have had myriad effects on the ways cities and counties accomplish the public’s business, including the “fiscalization of land use” and the creation of complicated alternative public finance techniques.
The sponsor of Proposition 218, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal, said, “If local initiatives are exempt from critical taxpayer protections, then public agencies could easily deny taxpayers their rights by colluding with outside interests to propose taxes in the form of an initiative, then submitting a tax under a lower vote threshold than that now mandated by the constitution”.
In the case of California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, the court by a 5 – 2 majority held that statutes proposed by voter initiative need not be held to the same procedural standards as statutes proposed by local government agencies. After reviewing the proposal, however, the city said it would only require a $15,000 licensing fee from dispensaries. “It’s important that we find a way to come together as republicans and democrats and find a way forward for our state”. “Only tax measures imposed by a government are required for a general election”, under Prop. 218.
He says it may be necessary to put another proposition in front of the voters to close a “loophole” in Proposition 218 that the court has created. One of the outrages was related to another California Supreme Court decision, Knox vs. City of Orland, in 1992. Despite the fact it was moot for the parties, the Court made a decision to address the case because it presented important public issues that could evade review.
The Court reasoned that its holding was based squarely on “the longstanding and consistent line of cases emphasizing courts’ obligation to protect and liberally construe the initiative power and to narrowly construe provisions that would burden or limit its exercise”.
The California Supreme Court will decide whether the public has a right to information collected by automated license plate readers – devices used by law enforcement that have raised privacy concerns. “We thought (the ballot initiative) would have more of a chance to win if it’s in a special election”, said Roger Diamond, the attorney for the Cannabis Coalition. Because these requirements are mandatory, the City erred in ignoring them.
A unanimous court on Thursday ordered a lower court to consider methods to make the data anonymous and determine whether any of those would allow for its release. “At that point, either the city or other interested parties may pursue any appropriate legal challenge to the measure either in the pre, or more likely, postelection context”. Passed by voters in 1996, Prop. 218 spells out how local governments may levy new taxes and fees, including the vote thresholds that have to be met to approve proposed taxes. “Everything that happens in California is driven by unfunded pension funding”. In the long run, however, this case may well be seen as a Pyrrhic victory.