With 3 major sets of plaintiffs already having filed court challenges to the Revenue measures passed by the legislature, The Oklahoma Supreme Court has already set Tuesday, August 8th, as the day when all of these combined cases will be heard.
The first filed challenge came from producers, distributors, and retailers of tobacco products. They will seek to have the new tobacco tax nullified by constitutional restrictions on the manner of passing such manners.
The second challenge comes from the auto dealers who will argue essentially the same points of unconstitutional process, to nullify the new double taxation of all auto sales.
The third challenge comes from The former federal prosecutor and current candidate for governor, Gary Richardson. He will challenge at least 3 of the new revenue measures. He says he held back on the tobacco challenge, and may revisit that item at a later date. His cases will include the new assessment on hybrid and electric motor vehicles, the increased income tax liability, as well as the auto sales double tax.
The docket will consume most of the day.
Activists from both the Democrat and Republican parties are expected to be expressing support for the challenges. New interest groups and individuals may be seeking to add their names as plaintiffs to the suits.
Some legislators are already very loudly expressing praise for the challenges. Rep. Jason Murphey has devoted most of his well-read blog to the subject of opposing these ill-advised and unconstitutional plots to burden the workers & consumers of Oklahoma with more mandated and confiscated taxes. Rep Eric Proctor has also decried the imbalanced process of taxing selective goods and income in a manner which burdens moderate to poor consumers, while giving massive breaks and credits to big business, especially oil producers.
But some legislators, like Rep. Scott McEachin, recently told members of the Tulsa County Republican Mens' Club that the tobacco revenue increase is actually just a new program fee for a new program to assist the smoker in the process of quitting the activity. Several other lawmakers, especially freshmen, are seeking to quietly edit their campaign websites and materials, to eliminate any past pledges of opposing tax increases and keeping the size of government at modest levels. Activists we talked to are saying that they are already aware of some changes and are preparing to make this an issue.
Because of past legislative abuses, the voters of Oklahoma circulated a petition in 1992, to require new revenue increases (i.e. taxes, fees, assessments) to be approved by a majority of the voters. The resulting State Question 640, left a clause whereby a tax could otherwise be passed at the legislature, but with very clear stipulations:
- It must originate in the House.
- It must not be decided by either house during the last 5 days of a regular session.
- It must be supported by a 3/4 majority of both houses' full membership (even if some district seats are vacant)