California 'Fee' Proposition To Wreak Fiscal Havoc

While Propositions 19 (marijuana) and 23 (global warming suspension) grabbed headlines, Prop 26, which would require a 2/3rds vote threshold for fees, slipped under the radar and passed. Opponents say it could make regulation nearly impossible.
November 8, 2010, 5am PST | Irvin Dawid
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It was perceived by some to be odd - the voters approved Prop 25, reducing the legislative threshold to approve budgets from 2/3 to a majority, but by approving Prop 26 as well, many of the fiscal strategies to get new revenue will be more more difficult, if not impossible. The proposition applies to all levels of government and to local voters unlike Prop 25 that only applied to the state legislature.

"Proposition 26... will tighten how the state constitution defines taxes and regulatory fees. It has been called the "evil twin" of Proposition 23 by environmental activists who fear it would inhibit the state's ability to regulate carbon emissions. But the same voters either did not see a connection between Prop 26 and climate policy or did not care.

"Shaun Bowler, a political scientist at University of California, Riverside, said odd voting patterns often spark lawsuits, and referenda have been thrown out as a consequence."

"Prop 26 will end up in court," predicted Bowler, who said it is poorly worded and fails to clearly define "fee."

From San Francisco Chronicle: Half Moon Bay weighs options after tax rejected: Half Moon Bay, CA voters rejected a sales tax measure for the struggling city on Nov. 2. "In a double dose of bad news, voters approved Prop 26" which will make passing fees even more difficult than the 'general' one-cent sales tax, Measure K, that needed only 50%+1 to pass.

Thanks to Len Conley

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Published on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in The New York Times - Energy & Environment
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