Richardson challenges tax increases

Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson has filed a lawsuit in the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of House Bills 1449, 2348, and 2433.

House Bill 1449 creates the “Motor Fuel Tax Fee” which charges a fee to owners of electric and compressed natural gas vehicles in order to make up for the fact that they don’t pay the motor fuel tax. House Bill 2348 effectively raises taxes on the millions of Oklahomans who take the standard deduction when filing their tax returns by uncoupling the state deduction rate from the federal rate. And House Bill 2433 adds a new 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicle sales on top on the existing excise tax already charged on car sales.

Richardson said all three of these laws were enacted in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution which was enacted by State Question 640 in 1992.

“Our state constitution reads in Article 5, that ‘the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the Constitution and to enact or reject the laws and amendments at the polls, independent of the legislature,’” Richardson said in a press conference.

Oklahoma’s Founding Fathers  “made clear that the legislature only has the legislative powers expressly delegated to it and that all other legislative power is vested in the people exercised by the initiative and referendum processes,” Richardson said.

Oklahoma attorney Stan Ward headed a citizens’ group for State Question 640 in 1992. It amended the Constitution requiring all “revenue increases” to have at least 3/4ths majority of the legislators to pass a tax or to be voted on by the people, that the bill was to originate in the State House, and not to be voted on in the last 5 days of the session.

“This past legislative session, our leaders violated Article 5, Section 33 of our State Constitution when they passed House Bills 1449, 2348 and 2433,” said Richardson, a Tulsa attorney.