Assembly Bill to Restrict local Recall Moves

By Jon Coupal and Scott Kaufman

As the Legislature gavels in for another session of taxpayer abuse, we can look back at the last session and cheerfully report, it could have been worse. The Legislature sent Gov. Gavin Newsom 1,166 bills last year. He signed 997 and vetoed 169.

Fortunately, the midterm elections served to concentrate the minds of lawmakers, taming many of the Legislature’s more radical proposals. However, several bills that were signed by the governor are still a cause for concern among taxpayers.

Assembly Bill 257 imposes “sector-wide minimum standards” for wages, hours and working conditions at fast-food chains. While not a direct taxpayer issue, it is a government mandate that will significantly increase costs and we know those costs will be passed onto the consumer like an indirect tax. The franchisees have collected signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to overturn it. If the measure qualifies, voters will decide in 2024 whether the law will take effect.

Assembly Bill 2582 is one of two new laws that change the process for recall elections at the local level. It removes the choice of a successor from the ballot, allowing voters to vote only on the recall of the elected official. A vacancy would be filled later, by appointment or a special election. The former removes the right of the people to select a successor and the latter unnecessarily drives up recall election costs.

Assembly Bill 2584, among other things, eliminates the ability to have a stand-alone local special recall election and would allow special interest groups to litigate the statement of reasons given for the recall and to sue proponents for libel. Recalling elected officials requires sober consideration but is absolutely a legitimate tool in the arsenal of a functioning democratic republic.

Assembly Bill 2780 authorizes the city of Selma to initiate, participate in, govern, or finance an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD). EIFDs do not require voter approval to form, and while General Obligation bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of a municipality’s General Fund, EIFD bonds have no such assurances. This creates a much greater risk for the bondholders and taxpayers, resulting in higher interest rates and thus less money for projects. This bill sets a bad precedent for other cities.

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Jon Coupal is the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA). He is a recognized expert in California fiscal affairs and has argued numerous tax cases before the courts.


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