While Molly Munger’s attorneys argued in yesterday’s court hearing procedure and incompetence and/or favoritism by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters to help put the governor’s initiative first of eleven measures on the November ballot, a challenge to the constitutionality of the bill that created the situation was ignored in the debate.

But the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which intervened in the case, picked up where the Munger lawyers left off and filed a legal action to test the constitutionality of the bill.

The issue is an important one. The legislative majority has concluded that if they say a bill is related to the budget then it is so – whether it directly effects the budget or not. By doing this they can enact a bill immediately with a simple majority vote contrary to the two-thirds vote rule that applies to urgency measures.

As I wrote yesterday: The issue debated before the court has a greater long-term effect on state budgeting than the positioning of propositions on the ballot. Whether the legislature has the power to decide how it can manipulate the process to declare any bill an “appropriation related to the budget” and pass it to take effect immediately has far-reaching consequences.

The Jarvis Association hopes to get a quick resolution of its lawsuit. The Secretary of State numbered the initiatives yesterday, however the appellate court can order a re-numbering if Jarvis wins the lawsuit. Most likely, a reversal of Monday’s court decision would be headed to the state Supreme Court.

Here’s the announcement from the Jarvis Association on the lawsuit.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association today filed a legal action directly in the Court of Appeal seeking to invalidate a so-called “trailer bill” which would give Governor Brown’s massive tax hike initiative priority in the official ballot pamphlet.

At issue is Assembly Bill 1499 which would repeal long-standing statutory law regarding how ballot measures appear on the ballot.  

“Governor Brown and his tax-and-spend allies in the Legislature have, once again, perverted the integrity of California’s election system law by giving his tax increase ballot preference,” said Jon Coupal, president of HJTA and a named petitioner in the legal action. Under the scheme, Brown’s tax measure would appear first even though under current law it would appear later in the ballot.  It is thought by many election experts that a higher priority gives ballot measures an edge over other items appearing on the ballot.

“Given the unpopular reception of tax hikes by California voters in recent years – the last eight have been rejected – it really doesn’t matter where his ballot measure appears.  We think it fails,” said Coupal. “But the real issue is the abuse of the ‘trailer bill’ process where the majority party bypasses Constitutional requirements related to urgency bills by slapping on a token ‘appropriation’ of $1,000. This is a transparent abuse of the process.”