A Fee is a Tax is a Fee
I heard Speaker Steve Sviggum speak at Bethlehem Lutheran tonight. Sviggum kept on referring to the Health Impact Fee as a tax. He also complained about the ruling from the "activist judge". His arguments for the fee were all about how smokers cost the state money, and the fee is meant to recover this money. Well earth to Sviggum - that was what the Tobacco settlement was all about. That's why the tobacco companies took the state to court - and they won - rightfully so.
David Strom gloats:
Pawlenty is flirting with completely destroying his reputation as a conservative. Rather than admitting this was a mistake and taking a (very) temporary hit to his pride, he is apparantly considering violating the constitution again by trying to impose this fee on his own.
"We are very disappointed by the court’s ruling and will ask for an immediate appeal directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court," Pawlenty said in a statement. He also is considering "using existing administrative authority" to apply the fee at retail outlets.
House Minority Leader Matt Entenza got it right on this one:
House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, said he was unclear what Pawlenty might mean in using "administrative authority" to apply the fee at the retail level. Entenza suggested that the Legislature, not the governor, would only have that authority.
"That’s why we have tax bills," he said.
Read the whole thing. Doug from Bogus Gold piles on.
The story goes national with Polipundit.
A judge struck down Minnesota's new 75-cent-a-pack charge on
cigarettes Tuesday, saying the fee violated a 1998 settlement with
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who crafted the charge on the wholesale price
of cigarettes, called for an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
* * *
Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch ordered the state to
pay refunds or give credits to the tobacco companies for fees paid
since the law took effect in August.
Memo to Gov. Pawlenty:
If it looks like a tax, smells like a tax, walks like a tax, and talks
like freakin' tax, it's a tax!
Try reducing some spending, raTHer than taxing companies and consumers.
Memo to Judge Fetsch:
Developing. . .