Cal Supreme Court Hears Governor’s Request to Invalidate Tax Measure

On May 8, 2024, the California Supreme Court heard the 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.  On September 26, 2023 attorneys from Olson Remcho filed an emergency writ with the California Supreme Court on behalf of Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Legislature, and former Senator John Burton asking the Court to invalidate the initiative.  The writ is here.  

Although the Supreme Court’s hearing was unusual 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.  Olson Remcho attorneys on the writ include Robin Johansen, Richard Rios, Margaret Prinzing, and Inez Kaminski. 

From the founding of the state, the Legislature has had the supreme power of taxation and this measure would revoke that power for the first time

According to an article in Politico:  “The measure’s opponents warn it would undermine public services, create massive uncertainty for local budgets and prevent governments from responding nimbly to crises. Newsom and leading Democrats have also made a more sweeping argument: that the initiative would fundamentally and unlawfully change how California is governed by stripping elected officials of their authority to raise revenue. ‘From the founding of the state, the Legislature has had the supreme power of taxation and this measure would revoke that power for the first time in the history of California,’ attorney Margaret Prinzing told the high court.”

After the writ was filed, former Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) issued a statement: “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 had also filed an amicus letter 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’ letter is here.

Alameda County’s Measure C to Provide $150 Million Annually for Early Childhood Care and Education

On April 24, 2024, the California Court of Appeal denied review of a Court of Appeal decision upholding Alameda County’s Measure C, a voter initiative passed in 2020 that will provide approximately $150 million annually to fund childcare and preschool for low income children in the county. The funds will be administered by First 5 Alameda County (“First 5”). Olson Remcho’s James Harrison and Tom Willis drafted Measure C and Harrison serves as general counsel to First 5.

“The court’s decision frees up over $400 million in tax funds that have been held in escrow pending resolution of the litigation,” said Harrison. “With these funds and the promise of $150 million annually on an ongoing basis, Alameda County may be the best-funded jurisdiction in the U.S. when in comes to early childhood health care and education.”

Alameda County may be the best-funded jurisdiction in the U.S. when in comes to early childhood health care and education.

In arguing for the passage of Measure C in 2020 First 5 estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 more children would be able to enroll in subsidized child care or preschool if the measure passed; 12,000 children receiving preschool subsidies from the state would receive additional money to cover more of their enrollment costs; and 3,300 teachers would benefit from training and higher compensation.

Kristin Spanos, CEO of First 5, commented on the impact of the measure in July 2022 after the lower court had upheld Measure C: “As a society, we have failed to fully fund early care and education (ECE) for decades to the detriment of providers, the workforce, and families. The pandemic has made the challenges even more acute and worsened inequities that have harmed low-income and families of color for too long. These public resources are needed now more than ever to support and strengthen our county’s early childhood system, particularly with an equity lens. First 5 is proud to partner with the early care and education field and community in support of children and families.”

Olson Speaks: “Defending Your Seat in a Contested Judicial Election”

Olson Remcho’s Lance Olson was a panelist in a program presented by the Unity Bar on October 24, 2023, “Defending Your Seat in a Contested Judicial Election.”  Other panelists included Justice Hernaldo Baltodano, Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, and Judge Monique Langhorne, Napa County Superior Court.  The panel was moderated by Brian Lopez, Board Chair, Cruz Reynoso Bar Association.

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

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.

 

Governor and Legislature ask Cal Supreme Court to Invalidate Tax-Limiting Ballot Initiative

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 a November 2024 ballot initiative restricting taxation.  Plaintiffs emergency petition for writ of mandate is here. 

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

The measure seeks to eliminate the state’s ability to swiftly respond to emergencies and provide resources for critical services for Californians

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.

 

CA Legislative Women’s Caucus Calls on Supreme Court to Protect Women and Uphold Gun Violence Prevention Laws

Press Release from the California Legislative Women’s Caucus

SACRAMENTO – In a historic move, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus has formally called on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold civil restraining orders that have proven to be effective in protecting women and reducing gun violence.

The women’s caucus filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the case of U.S. v. Rahimi, arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn an appellate court decision that would invalidate the U.S.’s federal domestic violence restraining order law. The filing is believed to be the first Supreme Court amicus brief by a state-level women’s caucus.

Gun violence restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders . . . are lifesaving legal tools

The brief notes that if the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court that the federal domestic violence restraining order law is an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment, then California’s highly effective domestic violence restraining order law may also be invalidated, along with other California civil restraining order laws, including California’s gun violence restraining order law, also known as the “red flag” law.

“Since the California Legislative Women’s Caucus was founded nearly four decades ago, our caucus has championed legislation to reduce domestic violence and gun violence, because the undeniable fact is that women and children are overwhelmingly the victims of such violence,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, chair of the LWC. “More than half of women killed by gun violence are killed by intimate partners or other family members, and when it’s a domestic violence situation, the presence of a gun increases the risk of homicide for women by 500%. Restraining orders that can remove guns from those who present a threat to themselves or others are highly effective in preventing gun violence.

“Our domestic violence orders and red flag laws save thousands of lives each year. If the Supreme Court were to invalidate these essential gun violence prevention laws, untold numbers of people, especially women, will die.”

“The sad reality is that over half of U.S. mass shootings are related to domestic violence. This is why our caucus has championed and prioritized legislation to protect women and children from being victims of gun violence. Gun safety laws are not created to infringe on the Second Amendment. They’re passed by a large majority to protect people from those who abuse firearms or should not have access to them in the first place,” said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, vice chair of the LWC. “An abusive partner’s access to firearms can mean the difference between life and death. We cannot stand back and allow the Supreme Court to overturn a law protecting domestic violence victims from being killed.”

The women’s caucus’ amicus brief was prepared and filed with the help of the highly respected Oakland-based law firm, Olson Remcho LLP, which provided its legal services pro bono.

“Gun violence restraining orders and domestic violence restraining orders, as enacted into California law under the leadership of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, are lifesaving legal tools,” said Karen Getman of Olson Remcho LLP, counsel for the caucus. “It is absurd that a court could find such laws invalid under the Second Amendment because this country had no precedent to protect women when the Bill of Rights was enacted in 1791.”

In Rahimi, the Supreme Court is reviewing a decision earlier this year by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the federal domestic violence restraining order law is an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment because the restraining order also results in the temporary confiscation of guns. Under a domestic violence restraining order, the person being restrained not only must stay away from the protected person but also must surrender their firearms for a specified period of time, following a civil court proceeding.

California’s domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) law contains the same provisions. California also has several other civil restraining order laws that result in temporary gun removal, including the state’s gun violence restraining order (GVRO) law, also known as California’s red flag law. That law, AB 1014, was originally authored in 2014 by Sen. Skinner when she was in the state Assembly. That law allows family members to petition a court to take away guns from a person who has been shown to be a violent threat to themselves or others.

California’s laws proactively prevent gun violence and are highly effective. According to the CDC, California has one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the nation.

And research has shown that California’s GVRO, DVRO, and other civil restraining order laws that result in gun removal save lives. The laws also protect the due process rights of gun owners via civil court proceedings after a legal showing that the person represents a risk.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in the Rahimi case next spring.

Karen Getman Named to Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 for 2023

Olson Remcho is very pleased and proud to report that partner Karen Getman has been named to Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 for 2023.  Olson Remcho’s Robin Johansen and Lance Olson were previously named to the Top 100 list.  Getman also made the Top 100 list in 2022.

According to Capitol Weekly, “Karen Getman is a political attorney knowledgeable about the intricacies of political and campaign finance law, which is why powerful Democrat politicians come to her for counsel in droves. Gov. Gray Davis named her the first women chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission in 1999 after she had been an attorney in Joe Remcho’s political law firm. As FPPC chair she toughened enforcement campaign disclosure laws and worked to simplify some of the agency’s rules. After her four-year term ended, she returned to Remcho’s firm, around the time when the political legend died in a helicopter accident in 2003. The Remcho law firm merged with another Democratic political law firm in 2020; Getman was named the first managing partner of Olson Remcho. Getman boasts an undergrad from Yale and a law degree from Harvard, where she also served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal.”

Knowledgeable about the intricacies of political and campaign finance law which is why powerful Democrat politicians come to her for counsel in droves

Olson Remcho Wins Delay for Retailers in Implementation of Proposition 12 to Ensure Uninterrupted Access to Pork

Proposition 12, which was passed by California voters in 2018, imposed new restrictions on whole pork meat sales, making distributors and sellers in California liable for criminal and civil sanctions if they knowingly distribute or sell pork raised in a manner that is not in compliance with Prop 12, whether or not the pork was raised in state.  Implementation of the law had been delayed by several legal challenges, but on May 11, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the proposition could go into effect.

Olson Remcho’s Tom WillisKaren Getman, and Inez Kaminski have been representing a group of restaurants, groceries, butchers and other retailers who had sought to stop the law from being enforced until the state  finalized regulations and implemented a system by which farmers can be certified for complying with Prop 12 and that certification can pass through the distribution chain, giving those end users a good faith defense against prosecution. They filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce vs. Ross, that resulted in a ruling on February 2, 2022, that California suppliers, restaurants and retailers would not be subject to enforcement of Proposition 12 until 180 days after the state enacts final regulations.  Plaintiffs include California Grocers Association, California Restaurant Association, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, California Retailers Association and Kruse & Sons, a meat processor.

After the Supreme Court decision in May 2023, the parties in the lawsuit negotiated a stipulated judgment from the Court that allows for the  continued sale, through the end of the year, of pork products that were existing in the  supply chain as of July 1, 2023.  The stipulation provides the  pork industry more time to comply with the new law and reduces the risks that the supply of pork to California consumers will be interrupted.

California Supreme Court Will Hear SEIU’s Appeal of Proposition 22

On June 28, 2023 the California Supreme Court granted SEIU’s request to decide the constitutionality of Proposition 22 — the 2020 ballot measure exempting companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash from treating drivers as employees. Olson Remcho and co-counsel filed the appeal on behalf of SEIU and other plaintiffs after an appeals court ruled in March that Proposition 22 could stand as state law, reversing a 2021 Alameda Superior Court decision that declared Prop 22 unconstitutional. The California Supreme Court could rule on the case early next year.

In the lower court’s ruling in favor of California app-based drivers, rideshare consumers and labor unions in August 2021, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that Proposition 22, which exempted companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash from treating drivers as employees, was unconstitutional. According to Judge Roesch’s ruling, Proposition 22 unconstitutionally “limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law.” He concludes his order by stating “A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it protect work flexibility, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety and pay standards for those workers. It appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation.”

Olson Remcho Represents SEIU in Appeal of Prop 22 Decision to California Supreme Court

On April 21, 2023 attorneys from Olson Remcho and co-counsel filed an appeal with the California Supreme Court in Castellanos v. State of California on behalf of the SEIU and other plaintiffs. An appeals court ruled in March that Proposition 22 could stand as state law, reversing a 2021 Alameda Superior Court decision that declared Prop 22 unconstitutional.

According to a Sacramento Bee article on the filing of the appeal, Plaintiffs “argue that because the California constitution requires the Legislature to enforce a ‘complete’ workers compensation program, carving out independent contractors violates that constitutional mandate. If the Prop. 22 proponents wanted to change employment benefits law, they would’ve needed to do so through a constitutional amendment, the opponents say.”

In the lower court’s ruling in favor of California app-based drivers, rideshare consumers and labor unions in August 2021, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that Proposition 22, which exempted companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash from treating drivers as employees, was unconstitutional. According to Judge Roesch’s ruling, Proposition 22 unconstitutionally “limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law.” He concludes his order by stating “A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it protect work flexibility, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety and pay standards for those workers. It appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation.”