Californians to vote on pot legalization to fix the budget

California residents are expected to vote this year on whether legalization should be approved to raise nearly $1.4 billion in state revenue. That’s based on an estimate from the State Board of Equalization, a tax administration agency.

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“It would be another source of revenue for the state,” said Anita Gore, spokeswoman for the board. The board has not issued an opinion on legalization as a means of easing the state’s budget crisis, she added.

California Secretary Debra Brown confirmed on Wednesday that enough signatures had been collected to put AB 390, a marijuana legalization bill, on the ballot for Nov. 2. A press release from the secretary said that legalization proponents submitted 694,248 petition signatures for the bill, easily surpassing the required 433,791.

“The momentum for reform has grown exponentially since we introduced the bill last year,” said Quitin Mecke, spokesman for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, the lead sponsor of the bill. [Read the full article]

The Senate’s top budget writer said Thursday that Idaho’s fragile budget plan for the final four months of the fiscal year could be putting the state on track for a special session before July, if tax revenue drops off a cliff.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted 19-0 to give Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter access to reserve funds totaling about $107 million — just in case the worst-case scenario materializes.

Even so, Sen. Dean Cameron, chairman of the budget writing committee, thinks the Republican governor might have to call a special session should he be forced to use even half that amount to shore up the $2.35 billion fiscal year 2010 spending plan that ends June 30.

Even as the 2010 Legislature enters its final days — it will likely end early next week — lawmakers are on notice that an economy that’s teetering on the brink could force them to return to Boise if tax returns collapse in April, always the month when most revenue comes in. [Read the full article]

Seneca Nation’s Josh Johnny-John, center, sings an intertribal pow wow song as members of the Six Nations rally in support of Cayuga Nation right to engage in free trade and commerce, in front of the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse, N.Y., Thursday, March 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)
State and county lawyers told New York’s top court Thursday that officials can tax Indian cigarettes and prosecute sellers of untaxed smokes.

But David DeBruin, a lawyer for the Cayuga Indian Nation, countered that authorities would be encroaching on tribal rights and that the Cayugas do not have to collect the tax for the state from non-Indian smokers.

About 100 Indian protesters gathered across from the courthouse in Syracuse where the Court of Appeals heard the case. They included Cayugas, as well as Senecas and Mohawks from western and northern New York. A few protesters drummed and chanted, while many carried placards. [Read the full article]

An association of gas station owners is suing Washington over the state’s existing hazardous substances tax, which was approved by voters in 1988.

The lawsuit, filed in King County on Tuesday, seeks to redirect the money that is collected under the current tax of 0.7 percent on oil products, pesticides and other chemicals. Currently, that money is earmarked for environmental cleanup projects.

Lawmakers this year have been weighing increasing that tax to help cities and towns control and clean up polluted stormwater.

The lawsuit, filed by the Automotive United Trades Organization and the owners of a Tukwila gas station, claims that the underlying tax is essentially a gas tax, and should be only used for highways and roads. [Read the full article]

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