Cigarette ‘fee’ ruled unconstitutional by Oklahoma Supreme Court

Breaking news – – in an unanimous decision, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court has ruled the legislature passed Cigarette Fee to be unconstitutional. This ruling is in response oral arguments before the court on Tuesday.  At this point, only the Cigarette Fee has been ruled upon.  Challenges to 3 other revenue raising measures have not yet been decided.  No decision has been made yet as to whether there will be Special Session – – we will keep you apprised.

 

Thanks…………..Clayton!

 

 

Cigarette ‘fee’ ruled unconstitutional by Oklahoma Supreme Court

Tulsa World

 

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled a $1.50-a-pack fee on cigarettes passed this session is actually a tax and, due to the circumstances under which it was passed by the Legislature, unconstitutional.

The measure was expected to generate $257 million in revenue and had been scheduled to take effect Aug. 24.

The state’s high court heard oral arguments this week on three challenges to late revenue bills passed by the Legislature last session.

Tobacco companies filed suit after lawmakers, facing a $878 million budget hole, passed Senate Bill 845, which put a smoking cessation fee on cigarettes. That came after unsuccessful efforts to pass it as a tax.

An opinion filed by the court Thursday states that the timing of the measure made it unconstitutional.

“None of this is to say that the Legislature cannot choose this particular sort of regulatory tool — a ‘sin tax’ — to further its goal of reducing smoking,” the opinion reads.

“But if the Legislature wishes to deploy this tool, rather than the plethora of other regulatory tools available to it for advancing its goal, it must comply with Article V, Section 33 because the people have insisted that legislative measures ‘intended to raise revenue’ — i.e., those whose primary effect is to reach into the people’s pockets to take more money to fund state government — be significantly more difficult to enact than other types of legislation.”

Tax increases must garner three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature or go to a vote of the people based on State Question 640, passed in 1992. Revenue-raising measures must originate in the House and can’t be passed in the last five days of session.

 

Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down cigarette “fee”

by Dale Denwalt  Published: August 10, 2017

 

 

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a $1.50 cigarette fee scheduled to go into effect this month is an unconstitutional tax.

In an opinion that drew support from every justice, the Court noted that the Legislature introduced four bills that would have created a similar cigarette “tax,” but abandoned them because of lack of support. Late in session, lawmakers finally adopted a “smoking cessation fee.”

Justice Patrick Wyrick, writing for the Court, said the Legislature had to find more than $200 million in the last week of session to meet obligations laid out in its annual budget bill. Because of that, and several other reasons laid out in the opinion, much of the bill was struck down as unconstitutional.

The government has one week to ask for a rehearing.

Lawmakers have said that if the court strikes down the fee, because so much money is earmarked for health programs, it’s likely the Legislature will have to return to special session this year.

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