Judge rewrites pe­ti­tion word­ing for re­peal­ing gas tax in­crease

Ripon Bulletin - - Local / State -

SACRA­MENTO (AP) — A Cal­i­for­nia judge has rewrit­ten the of­fi­cial bal­lot de­scrip­tion for a pro­posed ini­tia­tive re­peal­ing gas tax in­creases af­ter find­ing one writ­ten by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra was flawed and mis­lead­ing.

Sacra­mento County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Ti­mothy Frawley fi­nal­ized his bal­lot ti­tle and sum­mary on Mon­day fol­low­ing a law­suit filed by Assem­bly­man Travis Allen of Hunt­ing­ton Beach, a Repub­li­can can­di­date for gov­er­nor who wants to re­peal the gas tax.

Be­cerra’s ti­tle said the bal­lot measure would elim­i­nate trans­porta­tion fund­ing by re­peal­ing rev­enues.

Frawley ruled that’s con­fus­ing to vot­ers and changed the ti­tle to say ex­plic­itly that it would re­peal gas and diesel taxes in ad­di­tion to trans­porta­tion fund­ing.

“This is not a sit­u­a­tion where rea­son­able minds may dif­fer,” Frawley wrote. “The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s ti­tle is fun­da­men­tally flawed and must be changed to avoid mis­lead­ing the vot­ers and creat­ing prej­u­dice against the measure.”

Be­cerra spokes­woman Bethany Lesser did not an­swer ques­tions in a phone call and sent Tues­day by email about whether the of­fice plans to ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

The judge’s rewrit­ten bal­lot ti­tle reads: “Re­peals re­cently en­acted gas and diesel taxes and ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fees. Elim­i­nates road re­pair and trans­porta­tion pro­grams funded by these taxes and fees.”

The bal­lot ti­tle and sum­mary will ap­pear on pe­ti­tion forms and the bal­lot if it qual­i­fies. It must be fi­nal­ized be­fore Allen and his al­lies can be­gin col­lect­ing sig­na­tures in an at­tempt to put the re­peal bill on the Novem­ber 2018 bal­lot.

Law­mak­ers voted in April to boost gas taxes and ve­hi­cle fees to raise $5 bil­lion a year for road re­pairs. Start­ing Nov. 1, gas taxes will in­crease by 12 cents a gal­lon and diesel taxes by 20 cents.

Next year, a new fee tied to ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tions will cost mo­torists be­tween $25 and $175 de­pend­ing on the value of the ve­hi­cle.

And in 2020, zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cle own­ers will be charged a $100 fee with their ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion since they do not con­trib­ute to road main­te­nance through gas taxes.

Allen said he was pleased with the judge’s fi­nal lan­guage, which he said would make clear to vot­ers what they’re de­cid­ing.

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