Supreme Court defends local initiatives, but may threaten taxpayer protections

A California Supreme Court decision makes it easier to raise some local taxes. But how much easier remains to be seen.

For two decades, local tax increases have usually been governed by Proposition 218, whether proposed by a local government agency or by citizen initiative.

Passed by voters in 1996, Proposition 218 requires voter approval of all local tax increases. The measure also mandates that tax proposals appear on general election ballots (as opposed to primary or special elections). More controversially, most local tax proposals require approval of two-thirds of the voters.

In the case of California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Uplandthe court by a 5 – 2 majority held that statutes proposed by voter initiative need not be held to the same procedural standards as statutes proposed by local government agencies.

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