California’s sanctuary state law and a potential ballot measure to tax cannabis businesses will both be considered by the Sonora City Council at a 5 p.m. public meeting on Monday.
The council will consider a resolution that would place a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to establish an up to 15-percent tax on sales at cannabis businesses in the city — should any ever be approved — as well as discuss the city’s options with regard to Senate Bill 54, which made California the nation’s first sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants when it took effect on Jan. 1.
Known as the California Values Act, SB 54 precludes state and local law enforcement agencies from being compelled to enforce federal immigration laws.
On May 1, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution stating that the county is not a sanctuary jurisdiction and its policies comply with federal immigration laws.
Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele praised the wording of the county’s resolution at the May 1 meeting and stated that 1/500th of 1 percent of all his agency’s bookings at its jail are of people in the country illegally.
City Attorney Douglas White has presented some options for the council to consider that includes doing nothing at this time while waiting for current legal battles over the law to be settled, or any of the following:
• a resolution similar to the county’s;
• a resolution declaring support for lawsuits against the state filed by the federal government and Huntington Beach over SB 54 and authorizing them to use the City of Sonora’s name in their legal filings;
• an ordinance stating the city will comply with federal immigration law when it conflicts with SB 54, though White notes that the consequences of openly flouting state law are unclear;
• directing White to file an amicus brief in the cases currently in the judicial system, but city staff does not recommend that option and leaving that up to other jurisdictions with more money and legal resources.
Mayor Connie Williams directed staff last month to put the issue on an upcoming agenda after hearing from constituents urging the council to address SB 54 and receiving a letter from the City of Los Alamitos looking for Sonora’s support in the litigation against the state.
More than a dozen other cities have opposed or considered opposing the state’s sanctuary law with city ordinances and, in some cases, lawsuits.
In regard to the potential tax measure on cannabis businesses, the council will consider voting on a resolution that would put the issue before voters in the Nov. 6 general election.
The measure would propose a tax of up to 15 percent on gross sales at any cannabis businesses allowed to operate in the city, of which there are currently none.
However, the council earlier approved a pilot program that will provide an opportunity for possible medical-only cannabis dispensaries, medical and recreational manufacturing facilities and testing labs.
Any business would have to go through a costly and extensive vetting process and ultimately be approved by the council through a conditional-use permit and development agreement.
They would not be allowed to operate in any residential zoning districts or in the historic downtown area, nor could they be located within 600 feet of any school, daycare, youth center, church or park.
City Administrator Tim Miller said at recent meeting that the city received four proposals from potential cannabis business operated who would like to be a part of the pilot program.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.