Ok­la­homa court over­turns cig­a­rette fee

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

OK­LA­HOMA CITY — The Ok­la­homa Supreme Court on Thurs­day over­turned a new $1.50 per-pack state fee on cig­a­rettes, rul­ing that law­mak­ers adopted the levy in vi­o­la­tion of con­sti­tu­tional rules that dic­tate how and when rev­enue-rais­ing mea­sures can be ap­proved.

The de­ci­sion rejected the state’s claim that the fee — which was ex­pected to raise more than $250 mil­lion a year — was de­signed to pro­tect the pub­lic by help­ing to re­duce smok­ing rates and to com­pen­sate the state for the harm done by smok­ing. To­bacco man­u­fac­tur­ers ar­gued the bill’s pri­mary pur­pose was to raise rev­enue to op­er­ate state gov­ern­ment.

The cig­a­rette fee was among sev­eral rev­enue-re­lated bills adopted in the fi­nal days of the 2017 leg­isla­tive ses­sion to help close an $878 mil­lion hole in the bud­get to avoid cuts to state agen­cies and ser­vices.

Repub­li­can Gov. Mary Fallin said law­mak­ers will likely have to con­vene a special leg­isla­tive ses­sion to fund agen­cies that were des­ig­nated to re­ceive the bulk of the to­bacco fee rev­enue, in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices, the Depart­ment of Men­tal Health and Sub­stance Abuse Ser­vices, and the Ok­la­homa Health Care Au­thor­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.