CA Supreme Court in 5-2 Vote Holds CA Voter Initiative Limiting Taxing Power of Local Governments Does Not Apply to Local Voter Initiatives Raising Taxes

David Ettinger:

Employing a Homeric reference, the Supreme Court today holds in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland that a state constitutional provision, which was added by initiative to limit the taxing power of “local governments,” does not affect the ability of voters themselves to impose taxes by initiative.  In theUlysses and the Sirens

court’s 5-2 opinion, Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar writes, “Only by approving a measure that is unambiguous in its purpose to restrict the electorate’s own initiative power can the voters limit such power, tying themselves to the proverbial mast as Ulysses did.” …

Justice Leondra Kruger, joined by Justice Goodwin Liu, writes a concurring and dissenting opinion.  The majority, which spends considerable time responding to Justice Kruger’s opinion, concludes that “the common understanding of local government does not readily lend itself to include the electorate, instead generally referring to a locality’s governing body, public officials, and bureaucracy.”  Justice Kruger, on the other hand, believes that “[a] tax passed by voter initiative, no less than a tax passed by vote of the city council, is a tax of the local government, to be collected by the local government, to raise revenue for the local government.”

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