State propositions interfer with Tahoe wedding plans |

State propositions interfer with Tahoe wedding plans

Sally J. Taylor

What looked like a simple campaign to raise wedding license fees to promote the Lake Tahoe wedding industry has run into a quagmire of state propositions.

“It’s never easy at Lake Tahoe,” attorney Dennis Crabb told the Lake Tahoe Wedding & Honeymoon Association on Wednesday.

Crabb has been working with the association and El Dorado County to put a measure on the November ballot to raise wedding license fees, which are currently among the lowest in the state. The funds would be used to advertise and promote weddings, honeymoons and anniversary celebrations at the lake.

In discussions with the county attorney’s office, the legal counsels found a possible snag in state propositions 62 and 218.

Both propositions deal with the ability of local governments to impose new fees and taxes. Proposition 62 received voter approval but certain provisions were invalidated in the courts. Proposition 218 closed the loopholes of 62 and went one a giant step farther by putting its provisions into the state constitution rather than by statute.

“The legal question,” Crabb explained, “is, did 218 preempt or supersede the previous proposition? There is no case law, no litigation (to answer that question).

“Did 218 wipe out the previous restraints in 62? If it did, the association’s proposal will work. If it didn’t, there’s a question about the legal ability to put it on the ballot.”

Crabb sees several possible ways to overcome the snag.

The association could agree to relieve the county of legal responsibility in case of a lawsuit. Because the organization is small with a small budget, it’s “not a good place to be,” he said.

The California Legislature could give the authority to put it on the ballot, but that process would delay the campaign another year.

Counties can create county service areas for special taxes, but do not have the legal authority to promote a business.

Cities do have that authority. That provides what Crabb considers the preferred option: for the city and county to enter into an agreement.

“They can’t individually exercise the power, but collectively they do (have the authority).”

Now, rather than just working with the county, Crabb and the association will be working with both the city and the county to get the measure on the November ballot.

“The timing’s tight,” he said.

“We’ll be approaching the city and the county to say, ‘Here’s a way we think will legally work. Are you willing to go that route?'”

The process has just started and Crabb had not yet discussed the proposals with city officials. The county attorney will have to approve before it’s taken to the city, hopefully this month.

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