OKLAHOMA CITY – Gary Richardson, a Republican candidate for governor and an attorney known for his ability as a litigator, has filed a lawsuit defending State Question 640, the historic ballot proposition limiting state government’s ability to increase taxes in the absence of a legislative “super-majority.”
Richardson, a former U.S. Attorney and 2002 gubernatorial candidate, filed the legal action on Wednesday (June 28) at the Oklahoma state Supreme Court, seeking to overturn a trio of revenue increases passed with simple majority support at the Capitol during this year’s legislative session.
In a press release sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, Richardson said he acted “on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, asking the courts of Oklahoma to invalidate House Bills 1449, 2348 and 2433.
Richardson, who announced his intentions to file the last suit at a press conference in Tulsa last week, continued, “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.
“ In his release, Richardson, who is seeking the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination, sketched how, in his view, each bill violated the State Constitution.
“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.
All three of these laws were enacted in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution since none received 76 votes in the State House and House Bills 1449 and 2433 were enacted in the last five days of session.” Richardson has retained Stan Ward at the attorney of record for his constitutional challenge. Ward was the author of State Question 640, the initiative petition which in 1992 passed easily, enacting Article 5 Section 33 in the state constitution.
“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,” Richardson declared in his release. “It’s not ‘We the Legislators,’ it’s ‘We the People!'”
NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.