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State Supreme Court rules cigarette fee unconstitutional

The Associated Press and The Oklahoman - August 10, 2017 10:03 am

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 the 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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