Judge Rules Against Munger on Verifications for November Ballot
On Monday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that state election officials appropriately verified signatures for measures that qualified for the November ballot, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
As part of the budget agreement, Brown approved legislation (AB 1499) that prioritizes bonds and constitutional amendments on voting ballots.
Since Brown's compromise tax hike plan is considered a constitutional amendment, it would be placed near the top of the ballot, under AB 1499.
Details of Lawsuit
Recently, attorney Molly Munger filed a lawsuit to block the legislation from taking effect.
Munger has authored a rival tax increase proposal that does not receive prominent placement on the ballot under AB 1499.
The lawsuit argued that Munger's proposal was entitled to higher placement on the ballot because she had submitted signatures ahead of Brown (California Healthline, 7/9).
At a hearing on Monday, attorneys for Munger argued that Los Angeles County should have notified the Secretary of State's Office immediately when her initiative qualified for the ballot, rather than waiting to include her tax hike measure in a group with other measures, including Brown's compromise tax hike plan.
Kenny ruled that the county did nothing wrong. He suggested that if he ruled in favor of Munger, he would be telling counties how to manage their procedures for ballot qualification (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
He said that Munger's attorneys were asking him to "essentially micromanage the registrar's office" (York, Los Angeles Times, 7/9).
The judge ruled only on the signature verification process and did not address Munger's other allegations, as requested by lawyers for the defense (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
Munger's lawsuit also alleged that Democrats in the Legislature acted illegally to move Brown's compromise tax hike plan up on the ballot by changing state election law. Her complaint stated that AB 1499 is not related to the budget, despite being passed as part of a spending package (California Healthline, 7/9).
Response to Ruling
Dan Newman -- spokesperson for the Brown tax initiative -- in an email said, "The Court rightly rejected this frivolous lawsuit."
Munger's campaignÂ said that it would not appeal the ruling (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
Tax Group Challenges AB 1499
Meanwhile, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association on Monday challenged AB 1499 in California's 3rd District Court of Appeal.
Jon Coupal -- president of the group -- said the legislation violates the constitution by changing the ballot order through a majority-vote budget bill.
Coupal said, "I think the broader issue here is of the electoral process, and this bill was designed to give one specific measure preference on the ballot."
HJTA asked the court to block Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) fromÂ assigning the order of the November ballot initiatives (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
Secretary of State's Office Assigns Ballot Positions
Despite HJTA's request, Bowen issued ballot numbers to the measures immediately after a court stay imposed at Munger's request ended Monday.
Brown's compromise tax hike plan -- named Proposition 30 on the ballot -- is listed first among 11 measures.
Munger's plan is listed in the 9thspot on the ballot (Yamamura , "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/9).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the judge's ruling are provided below.
- "California Governor's Tax Initiative Tops Ballot" (Quinton, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/9).
- "Judge Rules Gov. Brown's Tax Initiative Can Get Top Ballot Billing Over Competing Education Initiative" (Guzman-Lopez, "KPCC News," KPCC, 7/9).