ACA 13 advances to Senate floor, despite misinformation campaign

Sep 13, 2023

The League of California Cities’ member-driven advocacy helped secure key votes

Senators are set to vote on a constitutional amendment that has pitted city leaders against the state’s wealthiest corporations. The bill, ACA 13 (Ward), cleared its last committee hurdle — and a frantic misinformation campaign — on Tuesday.

ACA 13 would require future ballot measures that increase voter approval requirements to also pass by the same margin. It would also preserve the right of local governments to place advisory questions on the ballot asking voters their opinions on issues.

Asm. Chris Ward introduced ACA 13 partially in response to the abuse of special interest initiative constitutional amendments at the ballot. This includes a ballot initiative that would undermine local control, strip voters’ rights, and decimate local government revenues, sponsored by the same group of corporations: the California Business Roundtable.

Opponents of ACA 13 falsely claimed the measure would affect Proposition 13, the decades-old voter initiative that limits property taxes. Asm. Ward added language reaffirming that the measure is not retroactive and would not affect Prop. 13.

“ACA 13 is about fairness and empowering voters,” Cal Cities Lobbyist Ben Triffo told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “ACA 13 will protect our residents’ ability to make their voices heard and effect change in their communities.”

The opposition is now arguing that ACA 13 “only protects the larger and wealthier urban charter cities.”

This statement is another falsehood. The measure treats all cities the same. ACA 13 protects local communities by ensuring a simple majority of statewide voters cannot restrict the will of a supermajority of voters in a local community.

Member momentum moves another critical constitutional amendment forward

Cal Cities members’ support was also critical to ACA 1’s passage out of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Authored by Asm. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, the constitutional amendment would lower the 55% voter-approval threshold for public infrastructure and affordable housing special taxes and bonds — the same threshold as school construction bond measures.

Nearly 23 years ago, the state’s voters agreed that the two-thirds threshold was too strict for investments in school construction and lowered that threshold to 55%. That model has worked well over the past two decades.

“ACA 1 will make it possible for all levels of local government, the governments closest to the people, to have the same tools to address community infrastructure and housing needs,” Walnut Creek Mayor Cindy Silva and Cal Cities past president told senators on Monday. “Let’s help to empower [California voters] so they can improve their communities.”

Despite these positive developments, the passage of these measures is far from certain. All members should contact their assembly members and senators in support of ACA 13 and ACA 1. If passed, both proposals would go to the voters for approval.

For more information about ACA 13 or ACA 1, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Ben Triffo.