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David Carrillo of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law and UC Davis law professor Darien Shanske. Courtesy Photo David Carrillo of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law and UC Davis law professor Darien Shanske. Courtesy Photo

Help may be coming at long last from the federal government, but California local governments are likely to face fiscal challenges as a result of the pandemic and recession for a long time. After all, many of those local governments faced major issues before the current crisis. It turns out that a 2017 decision by the California Supreme Court might offer some communities the ability to help themselves.

When the California Supreme Court decided California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924, we—and others—argued that the court opened the door for local initiative measures to adopt special taxes by majority vote rather than the supermajority that ordinarily applies to taxes. The issue of whether local tax initiatives can be passed by majority vote has now been litigated in three court of appeal decisions, and our prediction is coming true: All three decisions expressly adopted a majority vote rule for local special tax initiatives.

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