Cal Supreme Court Will Hear Governor’s Request to Invalidate Tax-Limiting Ballot Initiative

Ballot Initiative Seen as an Unlawful Effort to Revise State Constitution

California State Seal Sacramanto, California, Usa

On November 29, 2023, the California Supreme Court granted a hearing in a case brought by Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature that asks the court to remove an initiative from the November 2024 state ballot that would require voter approval for any increase in state or local taxes or fees.  Although the Supreme Court’s action is rare because most challenges to California initiatives are reserved for post-election review, the justices unanimously agreed that given the nature of the changes proposed by the measure, pre-election adjudication is warranted.

On September 26, 2023 attorneys from Olson Remcho filed an emergency writ with the California Supreme Court on behalf of Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature asking the Court to invalidate the initiative.  The writ is here. 

We can’t underscore enough the amount of harm this initiative would cause Californians.

Olson Remcho attorneys on the writ include Robin Johansen, Richard Rios, Margaret Prinzing, and Inez Kaminski. 

According to Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister): “This ballot initiative is an unlawful effort to revise our state constitution, and is attempting to fundamentally restructure the roles of California’s legislative and executive branches, as well as the role of local governments. The measure seeks to eliminate the state’s ability to swiftly respond to emergencies and provide resources for critical services that Californians and communities rely upon. We can’t underscore enough the amount of harm this initiative would cause Californians. We are calling on the California Supreme Court to determine that this far-reaching and disruptive proposal is a constitutional revision.”

Mayors of eight of the largest cities in California filed an amicus brief with the Court asking that the justices take up the matter for immediate review, saying in part, “the Mayors of the cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San José, San Francisco, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, and Irvine respectfully urge this Court to grant review in Legislature v. Weber, No. S281977. Petitioners have asked the Court for emergency relief to prevent the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act” (the “Measure”) from being placed on the November 2024 ballot. Not only does the Measure impermissibly use the voters’ initiative power to revise the California Constitution by making fundamental changes to the structure and foundational powers of government, it also includes a retroactivity provision that poses an immediate threat to vital state and local services that are so important to our cities’ residents.”  The Mayors’ brief is here.