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Sacramento case to test limits of legislative power

July 9, 2012 |  8:22 am

When Molly Munger’s case is heard in Sacramento Superior Court on Monday morning, more than just the sequence of initiatives on the November ballot will be on the line. The case will help determine the extent of the power state voters handed to lawmakers when they changed the state budget rules in 2010.

Ostensibly, the case brought by Munger is aimed at challenging the right of Democratic lawmakers to move a tax initiative by Gov. Jerry Brown to the top of the list of ballot measures on the fall ballot.

Lawmakers, using new powers handed to them under a 2010 ballot initiative, made the maneuver as part of this year’s budget, which would allow it to take effect immediately.

Munger’s case argues that lawmakers overstepped their authority when they included the swap as part of the budget. Democrats in the legislature did so because budget bills take effect immediately instead of on the Jan. 1 after being signed by the governor, like most other bills.

So Monday’s court challenge is not just about which measure goes where on the fall ballot. The ruling will have implications for future legislatures and could potentially limit their ability to fast track policy changes like the one passed to boost the governor’s initiative as part of future budget deals.

Munger’s case is set to be heard Monday morning.


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--Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Molly Munger. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press