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Oklahoma frustrated by ruling against alternative vehicle fees

The high court in the state found a fee proposed for electric and hybrid vehicles unconstitutional.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oklahoma frustrated by ruling against alternative vehicle fees
The governor of Oklahoma was disappointed that the state's high court shot down a fee for electric and hybrid vehicles. File photo by Phil McCarten/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Oklahoma are working to make up for any losses from vehicle taxes after courts ruled against electric and hybrid fees, the governor said.

The state chapter of the Sierra Club filed a claim against a House measure that would put a yearly fee of $100 per on electric cars and a $30 fee on hybrids. Slated to enter into force next year, the high court found the measure to be unconstitutional.

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The court said in a draft opinion that the House bill in question passed without three-quarters of the member of the state legislature and was therefore unconstitutional.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she was disappointed with the decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

RELATED Time running out on closing budget gap in shale-rich Oklahoma

"Fortunately, lawmakers are in special session now working on how to adjust a shortfall of $215 million of state appropriations caused when the state Supreme Court earlier this year struck down a proposed smoking cessation fee," she said in a statement.

The government called lawmakers to a special session in late September to address budget strains she said were critical. By her estimate, the state could face a $500 million shortfall next year because one-time funds were used to balance the books for the current fiscal year. On some of the proposals, like a higher tax on cigarettes, the governor said they fell short because they would be implemented too late in the fiscal year.

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House Minority Leader Scott Inman, who is running to fill Fallin's seat after she leaves office on term limits, said earlier this month there was a bipartisan agreement to raise sin taxes, cut a tax on wind energy producers and raise the rate for gross production taxes. Fallin responded by saying that maybe there were agreements on common goals, but if there were a budget deal, should would've announced it herself.

RELATED Energy driving Oklahoma's economic recovery

Oklahoma is home to about 4 percent of the total petroleum reserves in the country and accounts for as much as 5 percent of the total crude oil production. The state government reported that new tax legislation was supporting economic growth. Changing a tax rate for shale drillers from 1 percent to 4 percent supported overall receipts in September with $6.9 million.

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