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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pawlenty Hoisted by his own Petard on the "Health Impact Fee"

From Checks and Balances:

Today, Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch ruled that the $.75 Healthcare Impact fee Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) called for last legislative sesssion violated the 1998 Tobacco settlement. This means the 2006-07 State Budget has a $400 million hole and may force the Governor to call a Special Session.

In response the Governor released the following statement:

"We are very disappointed by the court's ruling and will ask for an immediate appeal directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The judge made a significant error by ignoring the principle of separation of powers which is the legislature's authority to independently make decisions without being bound by prior agreements reached by the Attorney General.

"We will also consider using existing administrative authority to apply the fee at the retail level of sale which is clearly allowed.

"This ruling is particularly unfortunate as recent evidence has shown that many Minnesotans are choosing to quit smoking, due in part to the Health Impact Fee."

We at Checks & Balances were not surprised by this ruling since we had first discussed it, in August, three weeks before the Tobacco Companies took the matter to court.

If this had been a tax, then the tobacco companies wouldn't have a prayer in the courts to block it.