Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, August 5, 2021


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Legislation on Recall Elections Validly Applied to Recall Effort Already in Progress, C.A. Holds


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Two bills that were enacted in 2017 changing procedures relating to recall elections were constitutionally applied to a recall effort that was already in progress, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday, spurning a challenge by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and others.

The first bill, SB 96, provided for the right of persons who had signed a recall signature to withdraw the signature after the petition was filed and required that voters be apprised of the cost of conducting the election. In addition to contesting the permissibility of changing the rules for an election after the process had started, proponents of the recall of state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, protested that the bill breached the state constitutional “single-subject” rule.

Based on the latter contention, the Third District on Aug. 14, 2017, stayed enforcement of the measure.

Legislature’s Response

The Legislature responded by enacting SB 117 which was similar to SB 96. However, avoiding the infirmity ascribed to SB 96, it provided in a budget follow-up bill for the allocation of $5 million to recall elections and declared that SB 117 and other specified bills “are other bills providing for appropriations related to the Budget Bill within the meaning of subdivision (e) of Section 12 of Article IV of the California Constitution.”

That section provides, in part:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law or of this Constitution, the budget bill and other bills providing for appropriations related to the budget bill may be passed in each house by rollcall vote entered in the journal, a majority of the membership concurring, to take effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor or upon a date specified in the legislation.”

SB 117 “qualifies as an ‘other bill[ ] providing for appropriations related to the budget bill,’ ” Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye said in yesterday’s opinion, declaring that “other bills providing for appropriations related to the budget bill become effective immediately by a majority vote.”

Changing Rules

Addressing the application of new rules for recall elections after a recall has started, Raye said:

“…Senate Bill Nos. 96 and 117 do not impose such substantial burdens on petitioners. The newly enacted requirements fall on local election officials after signatures are collected, not those seeking a recall election. No party is being deprived of the right to a recall election. Instead, Senate Bill Nos. 96 and 117 add a period for signature withdrawal and require a financial report to be prepared. Such measures may briefly delay a recall election but they do not deprive any party of the right or ability to participate in such an election.”

The case is Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. v. Weber, 2021 S.O.S. 4369.

Newman was, in fact, recalled in June 2018, being replaced by Ling Ling Chang, whom he unseated in 2016. Last year, Newman again unseated her.

He is presently carrying a bill, SB 663, which would permit public officials to learn the identities of persons signing petitions to recall them so their withdrawal of their signatures could be sought.  He has argued:

“My bill is not meant in any way to weaken the ability to recall public officials. In fact, it’s meant to strengthen it by clarifying some provisions within it to make sure it’s transparent and fair.”


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