California Senate passes bill that would keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns

The California state Senate on Thursday approved a bill to require candidates appearing on the presidential primary ballot — including President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' MORE — to release five years' worth of income tax returns.

The measure was approved in a 27-10 vote, according to The Associated Press. California, for the first time, will be one of the first states to hold its presidential primary in the 2020 cycle.

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The bill is a response to Trump's insistence that he will not release his tax returns as presidential candidates traditionally have done, claiming he is under audit. If the bill becomes law and Trump does not release his returns, he may not appear on the California primary ballot.  

"We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire (D) who co-authored the bill, according to the AP. 

All 10 Republicans in the state Senate voted against the bill's passage. 

“I get that playing the resistance card may be good politics for the majority party, but I would submit that it’s bad policy for Californians,” Sen. Brian Jones (R) told the wire service. 

The state's legislature passed a similar bill in 2017, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who did not release his own tax returns, vetoed the bill. A spokesman for Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomWatch live: California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds coronavirus press briefing Watch live: California Gov. Newsom holds coronavirus briefing Vote-by-mail would create chaos and distrust in November MORE (D) told the AP that if the bill was sent to Newsom's desk, "it would be evaluated on its own merits.” 

Other presidential candidates would also be subject to the bill, but several 2020 Democrats have already released their tax returns.

Trump is facing one primary challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE (R).  

Similar bills are making their way through the Washington and New Jersey state legislatures.