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By Scott Kaufman, Legislative Director

With the Legislature working its way back to a more normal schedule after the extended lockdown, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has been busy in the Capitol, engaging with lawmakers and legislative staff on the policies and proposals that are most important to taxpayers. Here’s a rundown:

Restoring Proposition 13 for our children
As voters discover the provision in Proposition 19 that requires the reassessment to market value of properties transferred within families — with only limited exceptions — anger is growing. Our office has received a steady stream of calls and e-mails since Election Day from concerned parents and children. We heard you. You want something done and we worked with our allies in the State Legislature to bring forward Senate Bill 668 and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 9.

Senate Bill 668 by Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel (HJTA Legislative Report Card: 100 – A), would have simply given families more time to plan for transfers of property by temporarily redefining the change-in-ownership inheritance exclusion made by Proposition 19 until February 16, 2023.

“Unfortunately, even a two-year delay was a bridge too far for the Legislature’s majority party. The Senate Governance and Finance Committee heard SB 668 on May 7, 2021, but did not vote on it. The committee’s chair pledged to work with me on addressing the issues that many families are facing due to Prop. 19,” Sen. Bates wrote in a letter to her constituents. “The committee’s chair and I were unable to come to an agreement and SB 668 is essentially dead due to a lack of support from Senate Democrats.”

Next is Assembly Constitutional Amendment 9 by Assembly Member Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin (HJTA Legislative Report Card: 96.88 – A). ACA 9 would allow voters to reinstate Proposition 58 and Proposition 193, restoring what Proposition 19 took away: the constitutional exclusion from reassessment when certain property is transferred between parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren.

As of this writing, ACA 9 has not yet been sent to a committee, but we will continue to pressure the Legislature to give it a fair hearing while we also explore other options to reinstate Props. 58 and 193 if our legislative efforts are not productive.

Election interference
The Democrats run Sacramento, but that doesn’t mean they are above messing with the electoral process to further swing things in their favor.

Simply put, Senate Constitutional Amendment 1 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys (HJTA Legislative Report Card: 34.38 – F), would make yes mean no and no mean yes. In a referendum, a yes vote approves the law and a no vote rejects it. SCA 1 would reverse this, so that a yes vote would reject the law and a no vote would mean yes to the law.

This seems like such an obvious attempt to confuse voters that it can only be seen as an effort to undercut the people’s power of initiative and referendum.

To undercut the power of recall, Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 by State Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica (HJTA Legislative Report Card: 37.50 – F), would allow the officeholder being recalled to also appear on the recall ballot as one of the replacements. This would allow a governor to be recalled and reelected on the same ballot.

Senate Bill 660 by Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, would prohibit pay-per-signature incentives in the collection of signatures for qualifying state or local initiatives.

Newman claims, without compelling evidence, that the bill’s purpose is to prevent fraud. In reality, all SB 660 would do is drive up the cost of getting measures on the ballot. This favors wealthy and entrenched interests.

The once and future attack on Prop. 13
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters (HJTA Legislative Report Card: 28.13 – F), remains active. ACA 1 repeals one of the most important protections in Proposition 13 by lowering the existing two-thirds vote threshold for both local bonds and special taxes to 55 percent for a myriad of purposes. This direct attack on Prop. 13 is the camel’s nose under the tent and part of a long-term strategy to strip away all the two-thirds protections on tax increases.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because I talked about it in this space last issue. It is a perennial attack on Prop. 13 that we have seen come forward over the last few legislative sessions. It has been defeated every time, and we are working hard to make sure that it will be defeated again this year. While ACA 1 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Local Government in April, as of this writing it has not been scheduled for a hearing, which shows the Legislature’s trepidation with touching the issue again — even in a committee run by the author of the bill!