Following two California Supreme Court cases interpreting other language from Proposition 13 and Proposition 218, we construe the supermajority vote requirements that these propositions added to the state constitution as coexisting with, not displacing, the people’s power to enact initiatives by majority vote. (See Kennedy Wholesale, Inc. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1991) 53 Cal.3d 245, 251 (Kennedy Wholesale) [Proposition 13]; California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924 (California Cannabis) [Proposition 218].) Because a majority of San Francisco voters who cast ballots in November 2018 favored Proposition C, the initiative measure was validly enacted.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
#189 / Chalk One Up For Majority Rule
The sun has not yet set on the idea that majority rule is still a real thing in California.
On June 30, 2020, the First District Court of Appeal issued its decision in City and County of San Francisco v. All Persons Intersted In The Matter of Proposition C. Click the link, above, if you would like to read the court's decision. Here's the essence.
The California Constitution provides that, “[a]ll political power is inherent in the people,” who retain “the right to alter or reform” government by voter initiative “when the public good may require.” Relying on this power, a majority of voters in San Francisco enacted Proposition C in November 2018. That measure was entitled, “Additional Business Taxes to Fund Homeless Services.” As the title says, the measure did impose new taxes on businesses operating in the city. A majority of city voters did vote for the measure.
The California Business Properties Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the California Business Roundtable all claimed that Proposition C was invalid because it imposes a special tax approved by less than two-thirds of the voting electorate. The Associations relied on provisions placed in the California Constitution by Proposition 13 and Proposition 218, which both require a two-thirds vote of the electorate to approve certain taxes adopted by local governments.
"No way," said the First District Court of Appeal, citing to earlier decisions of the California Supreme Court:
For those who believe that the essential operations of our government should be decided by a majority of the voters, meaning that there will be "majority" instead of "minority" rule, this decision was a welcome bit of news, which timely arrived just before our July 4th national holiday.
While July 4th, this year, is now behind us, feel free to celebrate!
Gary Patton personal photo