Tuesday, November 07, 2017

State Senate appears to advance another unconstitutional tax hike

Yesterday, the Oklahoma Senate passed HB1035X, a measure that raises taxes by over $440M (perhaps even over $500M; still awaiting final fiscal analysis). I believe that this vote, and this measure if advanced further, may have been unconstitutional.

Here is a summary of the process which HB1035X took:

  • 9/25/17: authored in the House of Representatives
  • 10/24/17: passed House Joint Committee on Appropriations
  • 10/25/17: passed House floor 55-44, but failed to receive 3/4ths affirmative vote required by Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution
  • 10/28/17: referred to the Senate
  • 11/6/17: brought to Senate floor, gutted, replaced with a substitute, passed 37-5

  • Here is a quote from the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision in August (paragraph 6):
    "Two of the four [cigarette tax] proposals received a floor vote in the House and garnered majority support, but none of the proposals advanced, due to their failure to receive the three-fourths support required by Article V, Section 33 [emphasis mine]."
    The Senate was not sent a measure that complied with Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution, as HB1035X failed to receive the 3/4ths vote in the House that is required to bypass a vote of the people at the next general election. HB1035X is in the exact same situation as the measures that Justice Wyrick referred to in the above quote from the majority opinion in Naifeh v. State of Oklahoma; it received a majority vote but not three-fourths, and thus was not eligible for advancement save as a ballot question.

    By virtue of failing to receive the requisite vote, the Senate's only option with HB1035X is to pass it as a ballot question for the November 2018 election. Only after the House sends a 3/4ths-approved tax increase measure can the Senate lawfully take it up.

    Governor Fallin and Senate leadership are passing this Senate vote off as the solution to the budget impasse, but it will simply end up back in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and should by all rights be struck down.

    1 comment:

    1. If the House cannot abide by the Laws of the state then I suggest an impeachment would be in order for the House members who voted to send this forward, and further I believe the Senate, by even taking this measure up should face the same consequences. If they will not abide by the Constitution then they need to be removed from office.


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