C.A.R. OPPOSES ACA 13 (Ward), a proposed state constitutional amendment, which will significantly limit the ability of California’s citizens to seek change through the initiative process by requiring more than just a simple majority of voters to pass certain initiatives.
C.A.R. opposes ACA 13 because it is makes it harder for citizens to achieve change through the initiative process and constrains the ability of the people to reign in the government’s ability to modify, amend, or enact laws of high importance to the people such as increases in taxes or change laws that affect other issues such as healthcare or civil rights.
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Please look for C.A.R.’s Red Alert email from email@example.com with a subject line that says, “RED ALERT: Protect Prop 13 and Voter Rights.”
Under current law, state voter initiatives (“propositions”) and constitutional amendments (outside of those that impose certain taxes) require a simple majority of voter approval to pass. That’s 50% of votes + one vote. Depending on the city or county, local measures usually also follow the same 50% + one vote system. The exception is when a measure creates or extends a local or special tax. Then the vote requirement is usually two-thirds.
C.A.R. strongly OPPOSES ACA 13 and other efforts to topple a system that protects the ability of California’s voters to seek change fairly and equitably through the initiative process. ACA 13 would require that any state constitutional amendment that attempts to increase the percentage of the vote needed to pass a local or state ballot measure must itself pass by the same percentage. For example, if the initiative proposes that issues such as taxes, labor rights or environmental laws be subject to a two-thirds vote by the electorate then that same statewide ballot measure must be enacted statewide by the same margin being proposed by the circulating initiative.
The consequences of such a proposal could have disastrous effects across a spectrum of issues – from the ability of local citizens to address environmental or human rights issues to making housing even less affordable by undermining the protections in Prop 13 – a measure that protects homeowners from over taxation.
According to the Assembly Elections Committee analysis prepared for the August 23 hearing, ACA 13 seeks to undermine the chances that another initiative, titled, “the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” will pass. This initiative, which has already qualified to be included on the November 2024 ballot, is meant to preserve Prop 13’s current system of taxing commercial properties by raising the threshold for increasing all special taxes at the ballot box to two-thirds. If the legislature is allowed to undermine one protection granted under Prop. 13 by enacting ACA 13, they could eventually use it to undo the entire measure. Nullifying Prop 13 will only add to the cost of buying and owning a home, potentially leaving a generation without the benefits of ownership.
It will undermine the voice of California’s voters. The legislature shouldn’t be attempting to change the rules just to avoid an outcome with which it might disagree. ACA 13 ONLY applies to CITIZEN-LED initiatives, not those put on the ballot by the Legislature.
California should NOT try to be Ohio or Florida, where supermajority state legislatures tried to extend their reach by weakening voters’ ability to use the initiative process. In Ohio, the state legislature placed on the ballot a measure that would have increased the vote percentage necessary to amend their state’s constitution in attempt to weaken the ability of voters to reverse an anti-abortion law using the initiative process. Ohio voters soundly rejected that attempt. In California, the policy aim appears to be the ability to more easily change the vote threshold required to increase or impose taxes. Just because the legislature may not like what the citizens want to do currently with taxation is not a reason to change the rules. The California legislature should not be copying Republican states like Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and North Dakota, who have passed, tried to pass, or are trying to raise the vote thresholds on initiatives in efforts to thwart the will of voters.
ACA 13 will further keep working families from being able to purchase a home. On August 15, KTLA TV reported that California’s housing affordability “hit a 16-year low in the second quarter of 2023.” Increasing property taxes will make it even more difficult for first-time buyers to make the leap from renting to homeownership. California’s growing diverse population continues to face uphill battles in buying a home and growing family savings, which is THE fundamental step needed to close the state’s wealth gap.
It could make buying and owning a home even more expensive by eroding Proposition 13 protections. ACA 13 seeks to undo protections enacted by Proposition 13, which established a 2/3 vote requirement for local governments to increase various taxes on homeowners. The passage of ACA 13 will only make it more difficult for homeowners to protect their homes from unfair taxation.