The Sequel To Upland: A Calif. Supermajority Tax Showdown

By Robert Merten and Richard Nielsen (February 19, 2019, 2:30 PM EST) -- In August 2017, the California Supreme Court decided California Cannabis Coal. v. City of Upland.[1] Upland addressed an expressly narrow issue, holding that local measures introduced by voter initiative were not required to be presented to the electorate in a general election and could be presented in a special election instead. Notwithstanding Upland's narrow scope, the opinion sparked a much larger debate regarding whether local special taxes introduced by voter initiative are subject to the long-standing requirement in the California Constitution that local special taxes must be passed with a two-thirds supermajority vote by the electorate. What began as a theoretical debate quickly evolved into a practical issue for judicial clarification. In 2018, several local special tax measures introduced by voter initiatives passed with simple majority votes but not two-thirds supermajority votes. Litigation at the trial court level has already commenced regarding the validity of these local special taxes in the counties of San Francisco, Oakland and Fresno....

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