California Proposition 37, Defining Fees as Taxes (2000)

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California Proposition 37 was on the November 7, 2000 ballot in California, as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

Proposition 37 came about when Sinclair Paints, a corporation doing business in California, objected to a law enacted by then-Gov. Pete Wilson that authorized the state to collect fees from paint companies to fund a Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. The California Supreme Court upheld the imposition of the fees as legal under California's existing laws. The vote in the California State Legislature to enact the fees did not reach the 2/3rds threshold that would have been needed, if the fee had been defined as a tax. This background led to the effort, through Proposition 37, to clarify in the California Constitution, which fees imposed by the state legislature should be regarded as taxes and, as taxes, should therefore require a 2/3rds supermajority vote in the state legislature for enactment.[1]

A somewhat similar ballot proposition, California Proposition 26, Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes and Fees, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California, and was approved.

Election results

Proposition 37
Defeatedd No4,988,45052.1%
Yes 4,593,406 47.9%

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
If Proposition 37 had been approved, it would have amended

Text of measure


Proposition 37 2000.PNG

The ballot title was:

Fees. Vote Requirements. Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.


The summary of the ballot measure prepared by the California Attorney General read:

  • Requires two-thirds vote of State Legislature, or either majority or two-thirds of local electorate, to impose on any activity fees used to pay for monitoring, studying, or mitigating the environmental, societal or economic effects of that activity when the fees impose no regulatory obligation upon the payor.
  • Redefines such fees as taxes.
  • Excludes certain real property related fees, assessments and development fees.
  • Excludes damages, penalties, or expenses recoverable from a specific event.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The California Legislative Analyst's Office provided an estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact for Proposition 37. That estimate was:

  • Unknown, potentially significant, reduction in future state and local government revenues from making it more difficult to approve certain regulatory charges.

Campaign spending

$2,844,374 was spent to promote the measure. $310,609 was spent opposing it.

Donors supporting the measure included:

See also

External links