May 2007

By Kate J. Hart

On May 10, 2007, the California Second District Court of Appeal issued a potentially significant decision concerning unfunded state mandates dictated by a Regional Board permit issued in 2001.  The case is County of Los Angeles v. Commission on State Mandates and the Regional Water Quality Control Board (May 10, 2007) 2007 Cal.App.Lexis 711.  This case goes to the heart of state enforced regulatory authority because it calls into question whether the Regional Boards can issue permits (or enforcement orders) that require local governments, special districts, cities and counties to comply with a “new program or [provide] higher level of service of any existing program” without providing reimbursement for additional program costs.

Continue Reading County of Los Angeles v. Commission on State Mandates and the Regional Water Quality Control Board

By Cori Badgley and William W. Abbott

After the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, public entities shifted funding strategies to backfill for the loss of property tax revenue. Proposition 13, codified as article XIII A of the California Constitution, provided that state and local governments are prohibited from imposing special taxes unless the tax is approved by a “two-thirds vote of the qualified electors.” Article XIII A forced the courts to wrestle with the  question of how to define special tax as compared to a regulatory fee. Early cases addressed section 4 of article XIII A, which concerned local governments. It was not until 1997 that the California Supreme Court had the opportunity to address the distinction between special taxes and regulatory fees in the context of state agencies. This article summarizes the evolution of the fine line between regulatory fees and special taxes.

Continue Reading Regulatory Fees After Proposition 13: An Update