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."