A Governor For the People
Last Thursday we saw candidate Gary Richardson hold a press conference announcing his plan to file a lawsuit in the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging House Bills 1449, 2348, and 2433. HB 1449 was the alternative fuel vehicle tax, HB 2348 froze deductions on income tax returns, and HB 2433 is the new sales tax on top of the "in lieu of" excise tax.
This of course points out why we always choose the worst vote on legislation and it isn't always the last reading of the bill.
Here is a link to the audio tape of the news conference or you can read the transcript below:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I'm here today to talk about the recent "tax increases" that were passed by our legislators.
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."
In 1907, when writing our State Constitution, our state founding fathers held that the will of the people is "sacred". They 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. It was this holding and right to the use of an "initiative petition" that Norman, Oklahoma attorney Stan Ward headed a citizen's group to gather enough signatures to put State Question 640, in 1992, to the vote of the people that amended Article 5 of our State 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.
In order to attempt to make up for the fact that owners of electric vehicles and compressed natural gas vehicles don't pay the motor fuel tax, our state legislators passed House Bill 1449, attempting to create a "motor fuel tax fee". The authors of the bill knew this wasn't a fee because they put "tax" in the name of their fee! House bill 1449 failed to get the 3/4ths majority needed to pass legislation that raises revenue in both the state house and senate and it was voted on in the last five days of session, both of which violate Article 5, Section 33 of the Constitution.
House Bill 2348 enacted by our state leaders raised taxes on the 70% of Oklahomans who take the standard deduction when filing their tax returns by freezing the state deduction rate, which normally is increased every year to match the federal rate. Again, this bill didn't get the 3/4th votes needed in the State House which violates Article 5, Section 33.
HB 2433 is an effort by our legislators to add a new sales tax of 1.25% tax on motor vehicle purchase. This, on top of the existing excise tax already charged on car purchases. This bill, if left unchallenged, would take close to $125 million from Oklahomans purchasing vehicles. Again, the bill didn't receive three fourths majority in either the State House or Senate, it was voted on in the last five days of session, and they added an emergency clause to the bill, all in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of our Oklahoma Constitution.
Folks, when our Legislators and Governor willfully disregard our State Constitution, it's up to the people of our state to take a stand, which is why I am standing here today, for the citizens of our state.
Since 1981, I have been standing as a warrior for the citizens of our state. First as a United States Attorney, appointed by President Reagan and then in the private practice of law. I can think of no better way, at this time, to continue the fight than by challenging the constitutionality of these new taxes that are clearly in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of our State Constitution.
This is why I will be filing a law suit in the next few days, on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, asking the courts of Oklahoma to invalidate House Bills 1449, 2348 and 2433. I have hired Norman, OK lawyer Stan Ward, again, the author of Article 5 Section 33, to be my attorney of record in this constitutional challenge.
We are a nation of laws and when our lawmakers refuse to follow our Constitution, then we the people must rise up and ask the courts to defend our Constitution. It's not "We the Legislators," it's "We the People!"