An appeals court on Tuesday asked the California secretary of state to explain why Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative should be first on the November ballot. The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento agreed to examine a challenge to the decision, one day after the state’s chief elections officer assigned numbers to 11 measures on the November ballot. Although no hearing was set, the secretary of state has until July 30 to respond. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is challenging a new law that placed the Democratic governor’s tax initiative at the top of a crowded ballot as Proposition 30. The bill, AB1499, moved the governor’s measure ahead of others because it involves a constitutional amendment.
Jon Coupal, president of the anti-tax group, said Democrats skirted legislative rules that would have required at least some Republican votes to win top positioning for the governor’s ballot measure. The lawsuit argues that Democrats acted illegally when they included a token $1,000 appropriation in order to declare it a budget-related bill and passed it by a simple majority. Coupal said Secretary of State Debra Bowen “jumped the gun to give the governor an advantage” as soon as a superior court judge rejected a challenge from a competing tax measure Monday. “At the end of the day, Jerry Brown and Legislative Democrats and Debra Bowen have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar,” Coupal said. According to spokeswoman Shannan Velayas, the secretary of state’s office does not comment on pending litigation. The court declined a request Tuesday for an immediate stay, which means the ballot numbers won’t change for now.