Judge Delays State Efforts To Order Nov. Ballot Measures

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On Friday, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley issued a temporary restraining order against Secretary of State Debra Bowen from assigning the order that propositions will appear on the November ballot, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mishak/York, Los Angeles Times, 6/30).

Frawley delayed the process of assigning ballot numbers so that the court can examine a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) that affects the placement of measures on the ballot.

According to the judge's order, Bowen now must wait until after a July 9 hearing to set the order of the initiatives (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/29).

Details of Ballot Order Amendment

Last week, Brown approved an amendment to a budget trailer bill (SB 1039) that moves bond measures and constitutional amendments to the top of voting ballots "because of the profound and lasting impact these measures can have on our state," the legislation states.

According to the amendment, the comprise tax hike initiative developed by Brown and supporters of the "Millionaires Tax" would receive prominent placement on the ballot because it is a constitutional amendment (California Healthline, 6/26). The fiscal year 2012-2013 budget agreement signed last week by Brown relies on voters approving the compromise tax hike plan (California Healthline, 6/28).

A rival tax increase proposal by attorney Molly Munger would not receive prominent placement because it is not a constitutional amendment. Munger's tax hike proposal, called "Our Children, Our Future," aims to raise income tax for all residents, with highest earners seeing the largest hike. Most of the revenue would support education programs (California Healthline, 6/26).

Details of Munger's Lawsuit

On Thursday, Munger filed a lawsuit to block the new state law from taking effect.

The lawsuit argues that Munger's proposal should have higher placement on the ballot because she submitted signatures ahead of Brown (California Healthline, 6/29).

In addition, Munger argues that Democrats in the Legislature acted illegally to move Brown's compromise plan up on the ballot by changing state election law.

Munger's complaint states that although the measure was passed as part of a package of budget bills, it "was in no way, shape or form related to the budget." It adds that Democrats' move was an "abuse of political process and legislative power."

The lawsuit also argues that election workers in Alameda and Los Angeles counties "failed to comply with their statutory duties" by counting petitions for Brown's measure ahead of Munger's plan.

Reactions

Dan Newman -- spokesperson for the compromise tax hike initiative campaign -- in a statement said, "We're pleased the court put this on the fast-track and confident it will be resolved quickly so we can move forward."

Senate Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said that the amendment is a "clarification" of existing law and that Brown's measure deserves to have a higher spot on the ballot because the compromise tax hike plan has important consequences for the state (Los Angeles Times, 6/30).

Dave Macdonald -- the top elections official in Alameda County -- denied that Brown asked for or received special treatment from the county for tallying signatures to qualify the compromise tax hike plan for the ballot (York, Los Angeles Times, 7/1).

Deputy Attorney General Ross Mood, representing the secretary of state, said that delaying the process of numbering the propositions would complicate ballot printing, which involves translating election data into various languages (Los Angeles Times, 6/30).


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