Golden State Republican Women (GSRW) Submitted By
the GSRW Legislative Analyst Committee
Karen Contreras, Lou Ann Flaherty and Elaine Freeman – September 21, 2023
The California State Legislature passed two constitutional amendments on Sept. 14, 2023, that would change voter approval thresholds for certain ballot measures. Both constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot in Nov. 2024.
The first constitutional amendment, ACA 1, would lower the voter approval threshold from two-thirds (66.67%) to 55% for local special taxes to fund housing projects and public infrastructure. As of 2023, the California Constitution requires a two-thirds vote for voters to approve special taxes and bonds, except for school bonds. The two-thirds vote requirement was set in 1978, with the approval of Proposition 13. The threshold was decreased for school bonds in 2000, when voters approved Proposition 39.
ACA 1 was introduced into the Legislature on Dec. 5, 2022. The state Assembly voted 55-12 to pass ACA 1. The state Senate voted 29-10 to pass the constitutional amendment. Legislative Democrats, except two, supported ACA 1, while Republicans, along with two Democrats, opposed ACA 1.
ACA 1, Local government financing: affordable housing and public infrastructure: voter approval.
(1) The California Constitution prohibits the ad valorem tax rate on real property from exceeding 1% of the full cash value of the property, subject to certain exceptions.
This measure would create an additional exception to the 1% limit that would authorize a city, county, city and county, or special district to levy an ad valorem tax to service bonded indebtedness incurred to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing, or the acquisition or lease of real property for those purposes, if the proposition proposing that tax is approved by 55% of the voters of the city, county, or city and county, or special district, as applicable, and the proposition includes specified accountability requirements.
(2) The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a local government upon the approval of 2/3 of the voters of the local government voting on that tax.
Bill Passed 2023-09-14 – In Assembly. Ordered to Engrossing and Enrolling.
The second amendment, ACA 13, would require initiatives that change vote thresholds to supermajority votes to pass by the same vote requirement as is being proposed. For example, if an initiative requires a two-thirds (66.67%) vote for new taxes, the initiative would also have to pass by a two-thirds vote. It would also authorize local government to place advisory questions on local ballots.
ACA 13 was introduced on July 13, 2023. Both legislative chambers approved ACA 13 on Sept. 14. In the Assembly, the vote was 55-19. In the Senate, the vote was 28-9. Like ACA 1, legislative Democrats, minus two, supported ACA 13, while Republicans, along with two Democrats, opposed the constitutional amendment.
Under ACA 13, California Proposition 13—which was passed by voters in 1978 by 64%-35%—would not have passed because it did not meet the supermajority requirement proposed, which was a two-thirds vote for local special taxes, among other changes.
ACA 13, as amended, Ward. Voting thresholds.
The California Constitution provides that a proposed constitutional amendment and a statewide initiative measure each take effect only if approved by a majority of the votes cast on the amendment or measure.
This measure would further provide that an initiative measure that includes one or more provisions that would amend the Constitution to increase the voter approval requirement to adopt any state or local measure would be approved by the voters only if the proportion of votes cast in favor of the initiative measure is equal to or greater than the highest voter approval requirement that the initiative measure would impose. The measure would specify that this voter approval requirement would apply to statewide initiative measures that appear on the ballot on or after January 1, 2024.
The California Constitution also permits initiative and referendum powers to be exercised by the voters of each city or county under procedures provided by the Legislature.
This measure would expressly authorize a local governing body to hold an advisory vote concerning any issue of governance for the purpose of allowing voters within the jurisdiction to voice their opinions on the issue. The measure would specify that an advisory question is approved only if a majority of the votes cast on the question are in favor.
This measure would further declare that its provisions are severable and that if any provision is held invalid, the other provisions of the act remain valid, as specified.
Status: Enrolled on September 14 2023 – 75% progression
Action: 2023-09-14 – Held at Desk by unanimous consent until November 1, 2023.
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