PROPOSITION 10: Cigar Makers Challenge Law’s Constitutionality
The California Association of Retail Tobacconists filed suit Wednesday with the state Supreme Court charging that the recently passed Proposition 10 violates the state Constitution. According to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle, the cigar and pipe tobacco dealers contend the law -- which instituted new taxes on tobacco products to fund early childhood intervention programs --violates the state Constitution in two ways: "by directing state funds to a commission that is not managed by the governor or subject to budget control by the Legislature, and by paying for programs that allegedly have nothing to do with smoking" (Egelko, 1/8). Plaintiff attorney Edward Lozowicki said, "The commission created by Prop. 10 is not under the control of the normal legislative budget process. The commissioner does not report to the governor or anyone else in the executive branch of the government." In addition, he contends that the new tax "violates the 'single subject rule'" which "prohibits the funding of a program with a tax on an unrelated product."
The Los Angeles Times reports that State Controller Kathleen Connell, whose office was named in the suit, yesterday "denounced" the suit, pledging "to fight" it with her "last breath." She said, "We think there is a direct nexus between early childhood education programs and tobacco products" (Liu, 1/8). "We expect to deliver a vigorous defense against this lawsuit. We believe the constitutionality of this proposition is crystal clear and California's voters should have the last word," added Connell (Office of the Controller release, 1/7). Chad Griffin, spokesperson for Prop. 10 sponsor Rob Reiner, said, "As we said throughout the campaign, the industry will do anything to protect its profits, even at the expense of California's children and families." According to Griffin, Reiner's lawyers will work with the state in the case (AP/Chronicle, 1/8). Click here for past coverage of Prop. 10.