Author: David and Michael Belcher

Public Officials Do Not Automatically Forfeit Their Offices Under Article XII, Section 7

Public Officials Do Not Automatically Forfeit Their Offices Under Article XII, Section 7

Introduction Article XII, section 7 of California’s constitution provides: “A transportation company may not grant free passes or discounts to anyone holding an office in this State; and the acceptance of a pass or discount by a public officer, other than a Public Utilities Commissioner, shall work a forfeiture of that office.”[1] We conclude that this section should not be taken literally: Article XII, section 7 does not mean that a public official who accepts free or discounted transportation automatically forfeits their office. The section’s history suggests that it was never so intended, and forfeiture of office is a disfavored...

Constitutionally Suspect Special Property Tax Exemptions

Constitutionally Suspect Special Property Tax Exemptions

Constitutionally Suspect Special Property Tax Exemptions by David and Michael Belcher Overview This article outlines the history of specific property tax exemptions in the California constitution, explores the unconstitutionality of such provisions, and considers why these provisions remain in the state constitution. Non-profit colleges in California have been exempt from paying property taxes since Proposition 4 passed in 1914. Previously four institutions—Stanford University, the California School of Mechanical Arts, the California Academy of Sciences, and Cogswell Polytechnical College—were covered by specific constitutional amendments that exempted them from paying property taxes.[1] Although those provisions granted the institutions “special privileges” contrary to...