8/16/2017Car Tax Vote Could Doom California State Senator
Court of Appeal advances recall election of California state senator over his vote to boost driving taxes by $5.2 billion.
Opponents of a $5.2 billion increase in California's gasoline and automobile registration taxes will likely have a chance to fight back at the ballot box. The state Court of Appeal on Monday granted an emergency petition shutting down an effort by California Democrats to protect state Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) from a recall election.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association kicked off the effort to fire Newman, who narrowly won election to represent a historically Republican district in Orange County and parts of southern Los Angeles County. Newman voted for the bill raising the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and boosting the annual vehicle registration fee of $53 to a maximum of $175 per year. All of the taxes will automatically rise every year according to the inflation rate. Republicans gathered 87,844 signatures to on a petition calling a vote on whether Newman should be kicked out of office over his tax vote.
"Coastal elites don't care how much the cost of gas is -- most don't even bother looking at the price -- but working Californians do," Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association president Jon Coupal wrote. "A recall election will make Newman explain to the voters of his district why he voted against their interests."
State Democrats hold legislative supermajorities and occupy the governor's mansion. They moved quickly to protect Newman by enacting Senate Bill 96, which makes recall petition efforts far more difficult to pull off. Among other things, the law allows election officials to delay the petition process for more than a year. The taxpayer advocacy group filed suit to block the new law, saying it was a clear-cut violation of due process to change the rules in the middle of a recall effort that began within 33 days of Newman's vote to raise the gas tax.
"Assuming that the election is postponed until June 2018, Senator Newman will be able to vote on thousands of bills heard in the second year of the biennium session instead of his replacement -- in other words, the legislature will have won and the people will have lost," attorney Thomas W. Hiltachk explained to the court.
The appellate court was sympathetic enough to stay the effect of the recall law changes pending further proceedings. The court, however, pointed out that it has no opinion on a case filed by Newman supporters seeking to have the voter petition nullified.
"The recall will inject more divisiveness into our politics and do nothing to reduce traffic, help public schools, or create jobs," Senator Newman's campaign website states.