This Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that requires all presidential candidates to release their tax returns before they can be featured on the state’s ballot. As The Sacramento Bee points out, California is now the first state to enact such a rule.
Earlier this month, Senate Bill 27 passed both chambers of the state legislature by party-line vote, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting the measure and Republicans refusing to vote in its favor. Trump has so far refused to release his tax returns, making him the first presidential to not make his information public in four decades.
Democrats reassured critics that the law would be applied equally to all candidates and added that it would also require gubernatorial candidates to release their tax records. Republicans claimed the bill was unconstitutional.
“The Constitution is clear on the qualifications for someone to serve as president and states cannot add additional requirements on their own,” Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh said at the time, according to ABC 7 News.
The bill, dubbed the “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act,” takes effect immediately.
From The Sacramento Bee:
The proposal from Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, requires all candidates president and governor to submit the last five years of their tax returns to the Secretary of State. The information will then be published online for the public to see, with contact information, Social Security numbers and medical information redacted.
In a statement released after the bill’s signing, Newsom said that the move comes down to individual state’s rights to to conduct elections as they see fit.
“The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement,” Newsom’s statement read.
Newsom’s predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), declined to release his tax returns and actually vetoed a similar bill in 2017, saying it could create a “slippery slope.”
“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?” Brown wrote at the time. “Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”
Ten states currently have similar bills on the table but none have yet been enacted into law.