Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lamb, Richardson comment on Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling

Continuing comments on the Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee, here are statements from two of the top Republican candidates for governor: current Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb and attorney Gary Richardson:

Lamb Issues Statement Regarding OSC Ruling on Cigarette Fee Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Lt. Governor Todd Lamb issued the following statement this
morning regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling that a proposed fee increase on
cigarettes is unconstitutional:

“I am not surprised by the court’s ruling regarding the cigarette fee measure as I believe it
contradicts the intent of SQ 640. With the ruling, the legislature must now focus first and
foremost on identifying existing state funds to allocate to the healthcare-related programs that
were scheduled to receive appropriations from the cigarette fee measure. It is my belief this can
be done without drastic cuts to agencies. State government can and must operate more
efficiently, and this ruling provides an excellent opportunity to start that process.”

Richardson Issues Statement in Response to Supreme Court Striking Down Tobacco Tax 

Tulsa, OK, August 10, 2017 – Gary Richardson issued a statement today in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the revenue raising portion of SB 845, which levied a $1.50 per pack "fee" on cigarettes.  "We are encouraged by the Supreme Court upholding the intent of SQ 640, which was passed by the voters in 1992 to require either a supermajority of the legislature to raise revenue or send the measure to a vote of the people," said Richardson.  "We were fully supportive of this challenge as it violates Article 2, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution just like the three bills I challenged in court."

Richardson then highlighted part of Justice Wyrick's opinion in paragraph 49, which stated the following:
"If this quintessential excise tax can be transformed into a fee merely by calling it a fee and adding some regulatory gloss to the measure enacting it, then the promise of Article V, Section 33-a promise made to citizens in 1992 when they went to the polls and enacted the amended version-will be an empty one. The 'tax relief' to be expected from the requirement that all 'future bills "intended to raise revenue" . . . be approved by either a vote of the people or a three-fourths majority in both houses of the Legislature' will have been illusory. And that, we think, would be an abject failure to carry out 'the manifest purpose of the framers and the people who adopted it.'"
"It is heartening to see the Supreme Court bring clarity to this issue," said Richardson.  "We hope that Supreme Court will view our challenges to the car sales tax, electric and hybrid vehicle fees, and the decoupling of the standard deduction through the same lens when they release their decision on the other challenges to the revenue-raising measures."


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