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Supreme Court to hear cigarette fee challenge

Supreme Court to hear cigarette fee challenge

The Journal Record
By: Catherine Sweeney
June 13, 2017 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Despite fear and speculation of a late start, the Oklahoma Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments about the impending cigarette fee and its constitutionality in early August.

Phillip Morris USA and local tobacco sellers teamed up to challenge the recently adopted fee on cigarettes, and they filed the lawsuit last week.

The court announced on Monday its decision to hear the case at 10 a.m. Aug. 8. That is a few weeks after the state’s fiscal year starts on July 1 and a couple of weeks before Aug. 24, the day the state was slated to begin collections. Each side will get half an hour to defend its claims.

A local litigator with experience in Oklahoma Supreme Court cases said that the court’s behavior so far indicates the justices will quickly issue an opinion.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys requested the hearing in a letter dated June 8. They argued that the case was of high public importance and that oral arguments could clarify any legal issues within Senate Bill 845.

That bill created a $1.50-per-pack fee on cigarettes under what lawmakers called the Tobacco Cessation Act of 2017. The legislation appeared after four failed attempts to raise taxes on cigarettes. Phillip Morris USA and local tobacco companies teamed up to sue the state, calling the measure unconstitutional... FULL ARTICLE

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