State legislation proposed regarding transportation sales taxes

Here’s the latest from Metro’s government relations staff — and not exactly a surprise considering the narrow losses at the polls of transportation sales tax ballot measures in Los Angeles and Alameda Counties. Both received more than 66 percent ‘yes’ votes but lost by less than one-half of a percentage point:

Senator Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) Introduces Legislation To Establish A Lower Vote Threshold For Transportation Sales Taxes

Yesterday marked the first day of the 2013-2014 legislative session for the State of California and a number of bills were introduced.

Senator Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) introduced a proposed constitutional amendment, SCA 4, that would establish a lower vote threshold of 55 percent for propositions related to funding local transportation projects. Metro staff will bring this to the Board for consideration and further discussion during the January 2013 Board cycle.

 

The text of the bill is posted after the jump.

BILL NUMBER: SCA 4	INTRODUCED
	BILL TEXT

INTRODUCED BY   Senator Liu

                        DECEMBER 3, 2012

   A resolution to propose to the people of the State of California
an amendment to the Constitution of the State, by amending Section 4
of Article XIII A thereof, and by amending Section 2 of Article XIII
C thereof, relating to taxation.

	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

   SCA 4, as introduced, Liu. Local government transportation
projects: special taxes: voter approval.
   The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special
tax by a city, county, or special district upon the approval of 2/3
of the voters of the city, county, or special district voting on that
tax, except that certain school entities may levy an ad valorem
property tax for specified purposes with the approval of 55% of the
voters within the jurisdiction of these entities.
   This measure would provide that the imposition, extension, or
increase of a special tax by a local government for the purpose of
providing funding for local transportation projects requires the
approval of 55% of its voters voting on the proposition. The measure
would also make conforming and technical, nonsubstantive changes.
   Vote: 2/3. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated
local program: no.

   Resolved by the Assembly, the Senate concurring, That the
Legislature of the State of California at its 2011-12 Regular Session
commencing on the sixth day of December 2010, two-thirds of the
membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of
the State of California that the Constitution of the State be
amended as follows:
  First--  That Section 4 of Article XIII A thereof is amended to
read:
      Section 4.   Cities, Counties and special districts,   Except as otherwise provided by Section 2 of Article XIII     C, a city, county, or special district,  by a two-thirds vote of  the qualified electors of such district   its voters voting on the proposition  ,
may impose  special taxes on such district   a special tax within that city, county, or special district  ,
except  an  ad valorem  taxes   tax  on real property or a  transaction   transactions  tax or sales tax on the sale of real property
within  such City, County   that city, county,  or special district.
  Second--  That Section 2 of Article XIII C thereof is amended to
read:
      SEC. 2.   Local Government Tax Limitation. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution:
   (a)  All taxes   A tax  imposed by any
local government  shall be deemed to be   is  either  a  general  taxes   tax  or  a  special  taxes. Special purpose districts   tax. A special district  or  agencies   agency  , including  a  school
 districts, shall have   district, has  no
 power   authority  to levy  a
general  taxes   tax  .
   (b)  No   A  local government  may   shall   not  impose, extend, or
increase any general tax unless and until that tax is submitted to
the electorate and approved by a majority vote. A general tax
 shall  is  not  be 
deemed to have been increased if it is imposed at a rate not higher
than the maximum rate so approved. The election required by this
subdivision shall be consolidated with a regularly scheduled general
election for members of the governing body of the local government,
except in cases of emergency declared by a unanimous vote of the
governing body.
   (c) Any general tax imposed, extended, or increased, without voter
approval, by any local government on or after January 1, 1995, and
prior to the effective date of this article,  shall 
 may  continue to be imposed only if  that general tax is  approved by a majority vote of the voters voting in an
election on the issue of the imposition, which election  shall be   is  held  within two years of the effective date of this article   no later than November 6, 1998,  and in compliance with subdivision (b).
   (d)  No   (1)     Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2), a  local government
 may   shall not  impose, extend, or
increase any special tax unless and until that tax is submitted to
the electorate and approved by  a  two-thirds
 vote   of the voters voting on the proposition  . A special tax  shall   is  not
 be  deemed to have been increased if it is imposed
at a rate not higher than the maximum rate so approved.  (2) The imposition, extension, or increase of a special tax by a local government for the purpose of providing funding for local transportation projects under its jurisdiction, as may otherwise be authorized by law, requires the approval of 55 percent of the voters voting on the proposition. A special tax for the purpose of providing funding for local transportation projects is not deemed to have been increased if it is imposed at a rate not higher than the maximum rate previously approved in the manner required by law. The Legislature shall define local transportation projects for purposes of this paragraph. 

14 replies

  1. Wow, that was quick! just read an article today about how the new Democratic majority in State Legislature might bring this up in light of Measure J failing by less than 1%. This is progress indeed. Hopefully it gets passed.

  2. The majority votes for Measure J came from voters who would benefit the most from the projects. Most of the votes came from residents in the City of Los Angeles. Metro needs to add funding for projects in other parts of the county to get the two-thirds of the vote needed to pass the tax or discuss more about the current projects instead of forcing on the subway to West LA.

  3. Third rail of politics to be derailed by voters wanting more third rail transit.

    Hopefully this becomes law and by then, certain vocal members of the LACMTA board will have been replaced. Hopefully the replacements are less myopic and politically geocentric and more concerned about the needs of the County. Given where I live, the 2/3rds requirement provides a certain level of protection but democracy ensures we are ruled no better then we deserve. So if most of the people want to funnel 3 generations of tax revenue to projects that provide little to no benefit to them, then that is what we should have.

    A better fix would be for our society to return to progressive tax schemes so that infrastructure isn’t dependent on regressive ballot measures. We’re going to need a lot more money then incremental sales taxes can provide.

  4. Why not pass a bill for the government to have the right to lower the percentage to consider it pass or fail like with measure J. Why not give the government the right to lower the required to 60% or even 55% or just 51% if the bill is as important as measure J and is as close to passing give the government the right to lower the required percentage as long as they choose the side with more.

  5. Is there anyplace where we can read the full text of the proposed law? It sounds not-unreasonable, but I’d like to see exactly how it defines “local transportation projects.” It would certainly be a bad thing if it made it easier for cities to put even more cars on the road.

  6. Terrific news! Nowhere should one person’s NO vote count twice as much as another person’s YES vote. These measures should pass or fail on a basic, democratic 50% vote. People all over the county are benefitting from new rail lines / rapid bus lines. Metro is not perfect, but it’s doing its best. Rail lines will bring efficiency and therefore greater productivity to our city. So many citizens sitting in traffic for hours everyday, so much time lost at work and home. Change Prop 13 for transit related projects, let’s keep LA moving, we can do it!

  7. Why limit it to transpo? If voters in a county want to tax themselves for any legal purpose, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do so?

  8. Another consideration for future elections, besides lowering the threshold for passage, is for the local transportation agency (LACMTA) to drop the $11.8 billion tunnel project (SR 710 duel toll tunnels) to gain some credibility with the electorate. This MEGA project is the proverbial bad highway apple which spoils the good transit apples in the barrel.

  9. Perhaps something other than irregular buses to much of Southern LA County? Not all of us live and commute to downtown yet are paying for new rail lines that basically service that area. Millions of us are not Angelenos, nor do we frequent downtown. Knabe was right about the need to spread some of the transportation cash around.

  10. Finally some signs of sanity are returning. Those stupid supermajority measures all passed with simple majorities; if they themselves had faced the same supermajority requirements that they proposed, they would have failed and we would never have been burdened with them.