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Proposal to divide California into three states won’t appear on November ballot after all

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It could still be decided in a future election

It looks like California’s boundaries won’t be changing anytime soon.

On Wednesday, the state’s supreme court ordered Secretary of State Alex Padilla to remove a voter initiative from the November ballot seeking to divide California into three separate states. Padilla’s office quickly tweeted confirmation that it would honor the court’s decision.

The measure, backed by venture capitalist Tim Draper, would have kicked off a process dividing California into three states, preliminarily known as Northern California, Southern California, and, simply, California (Los Angeles County would fall into the boundaries of California, while neighboring Orange County would be in Southern California).

The Planning and Conservation League, an environmental group based in Sacramento, challenged the legality of the initiative, arguing that dividing California into multiple parts would require changes to the state constitution—and should thus be subject to a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature.

In an interview with the Mercury News, the group’s director, Howard Penn, said the initiative would threaten California’s strict environmental laws and called the measure “a big waste of time and money.”

The court’s action Wednesday doesn’t rule out the possibility that the measure could appear on a future ballot. The court has not yet decided on the legality of the initiative, but asked Padilla to leave it off the ballot for now, to give time for supporters and opponents of the measure to make their arguments.

“Because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity,” wrote the court Wednesday, the “potential harm” of allowing voters to decide on it in November could outweigh any negative results of holding it for a future election.

In a statement released prior to the court’s decision, Cal 3, the organization backing the measure, called the conservation league’s lawsuit “another example of how Sacramento politicians, powerful unions and their high-priced lobbyists are trying to hold onto power at the expense of California voters.”