The Supreme Court last week called for preliminary oppositions to an original writ petition filed by California’s Legislature and its Governor seeking to prevent next year’s November ballot from including an initiative that would make it more difficult to enact new taxes.
The initiative — the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act — states that earlier, similar measures “have been weakened and hamstrung by the Legislature, government lawyers, and the courts, making it necessary to pass yet another initiative to close loopholes and reverse hostile court decisions.” It expressly seeks to “reverse loopholes” created by, among others, the Supreme Court’s decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924 (see here). The court has declined opportunities to hear other cases in which it could have closed supposed “loopholes” the Courts of Appeal have created by extrapolating from the California Cannabis opinion. (See here, here, here, and here.)
The writ petition — Legislature v. Weber — claims the initiative “attempts to revise rather than amend the California Constitution,” an action that “is beyond the power of the voters.” Pre-election review is necessary, it asserts, because the initiative includes a limited retroactivity provision and, therefore, “If review is delayed until after the election and the Measure passes, it will commence a rush to reauthorize legislation and ballot measures, all while the courts are determining whether the Measure is valid and thus whether such a monumental undertaking is even necessary.”
The petition says the initiative will be placed on the November 2024 ballot in June 2024 unless the court acts.
Several local government associations have filed an amicus letter in support of the petition.
The court directs California’s Secretary of State and the initiative’s proponent to file preliminary oppositions (see rule 8.487(a)) on Monday and the petitioners to file any reply by November 9. The petition was filed 23 days before the court ordered the preliminary oppositions to be filed 11 days later.