Legislature Defends Passage of Measure To Reorder Ballot Items
Last week, attorneys for the California Legislature filed an argument in defense of legislation (AB 1499) signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) that would move his compromise tax hike initiative near the top of the November ballot, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Background on Legislation
AB 1499 prioritizes bonds and constitutional amendments on voting ballots (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
According to the legislation -- which amends a budget trailer bill (SB 1039) -- the compromise tax hike plan developed by Brown and supporters of the "Millionaires Tax" would receive prominent placement on the ballot because it is a constitutional amendment.
The fiscal year 2012-2013 budget agreement signed recently by Brown relies on voters approving the compromise tax hike plan.
Details of Lawsuit
Recently, attorney Molly Munger filed a lawsuit to block the amendment from taking effect.
Munger has authored a rival tax increase proposal that would not receive prominent placement on the ballot under the amendment.
The lawsuit argues that Munger's proposal should have higher placement on the ballot because she submitted signatures ahead of Brown.
In addition, Munger argues that Democrats in the Legislature acted illegally to move Brown's compromise plan up on the ballot by changing state election law.
Munger's complaint states that although the measure was passed as part of a package of budget bills, it "was in no way, shape or form related to the budget." It adds that Democrats' move was an "abuse of political process and legislative power" (California Healthline, 7/2).
According to "Capitol Alert," if AB 1499 did not relate to the budget, lawmakers would have needed a two-thirds vote to enact it before the November election ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
Details of Legislature's Defense
Attorneys for the Legislature -- including the Legislative Counsel and private attorney Fredric Woocher -- argued in their filing that lawmakers followed the state constitution by including a $1,000 appropriation and declaring AB 1499 a budget measure.
They wrote, "Because AB 1499 indisputably contains an appropriation and, equally indisputably, was explicitly identified by the Legislature in the budget bill as 'related to the budget,' it meets the only criteria that are pertinent under the California Constitution."
The attorneys said the legislation should be considered a budget measure because the bonds and amendments it prioritizes on the ballot affect the state's fiscal situation.
They also argued that the Legislature has the constitutional authority to determine for itself whether bills are related to the budget because constructing a budget is "a quintessential legislative function."
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled to take place on Monday in Sacramento Superior Court ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.