Lawsuits Argue Lawmakers Violated OK Constitution When Passing Budget

Thursday, June 22nd 2017, 10:31 pm
By: News On 6

Lawsuits are starting to stack up against the state of Oklahoma, from people saying lawmakers violated the state's constitution when passing the budget last month.

For some lawmakers, the lawsuits were expected; and putting Oklahoma in its current position was reckless.

The $6.8 billion budget passed last month is already being challenged in court. The issues are with how the budget was passed.

The state Constitution says all revenue-raising measures must "originate in the House" cannot be "passed during the five last days" and need to be approved by three-fourths of the legislature.

District 73 representative, Regina Goodwin, said she feared there would be lawsuits.

“We knew that what was happening was unconstitutional, we felt it was. We voiced that strongly," she said. "It's what we expected."

Gary Richardson, who’s running for governor, brought three lawsuits against the state, saying the motor fuel tax fee, the new motor vehicle tax, and the uncoupling of the state tax deduction rate from the federal rate, all did not follow Article 5, Section 33 of the state's constitution.

"We the people must rise up and ask the courts to defend our constitution," Richardson said.

Four DUI law firms say Senate Bill 643 is unconstitutional. It alters the state's DUI law and allows the state to take and destroy your license without a hearing.

Even two tobacco companies are suing the state saying the new cigarette tax is illegal.

"It should have required 76 votes, which it did not get,” Goodwin said.

She thinks lawmakers have put the state in a scary spot.

"I think it does all of Oklahoma a disservice. I thought it was reckless," the state representative said.

She said she’s fearful the state supreme court will rule against how lawmakers passed the budget in several different cases.  

"Either there are going to be some drastic cuts across the board or we are going to find ourselves back in a special session," Goodwin said.

If the courts rule any of the bills passed were done so unconstitutionally, then there are fears there would be mid-year cuts to core services like education, public safety, and healthcare.

Article V, Section 33 of Oklahoma Constitution: