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Morning Star Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20076
Nos. No. S123481, (Cal., 04/24/2006)

The court reverses a lower court summary judgment decision upholding the state department of toxic substance control's determination that virtually all corporations with 50 or more employees in the state must pay a hazardous materials charge. This determination amounts to a regulation under the state Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Although the department's interpretation of statutory language was reasonable, it was not plainly ineluctable. Thus, the department cannot avail itself of the APA exception that applies if an agency's construction of a statute represents "the only legally tenable interpretation of a provision of law." A corporation challenging the fee was therefore entitled to relief declaring the scheme invalid.