Appeals court sides with state in fuel tax lawsuit
KANSAS CITY - The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District sided with the state Tuesday in its ruling on a lawsuit over Proposition D, which if passed would raise the fuel tax by increments over the next four years.
The lawsuit, filed by Rep. Mike Moon and activist Ron Calzone, challenged the method by which legislators passed a bill calling for a referendum on the fuel tax. The petition also challenged the content of the bill, saying it violated the state constitution by containing more than one subject. The bill containing the referendum also provides tax deductions on awards won by Olympic athletes.
In August, a circuit judge ruled in favor of the state, refuting the claims made in Moon's and Calzone's lawsuit. Tuesday's ruling by the appeals court dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, citing the proposition's existence as a referendum, rather than an initiative petition.
Referendums are laws submitted to the public for acceptance or rejection by the general assembly. Intiative petitions are put on the ballot after the supporting party gathers a certain number of signatures, then has them certified by the secretary of state.
The court ruled that as a referendum, Proposition D isn't subject to the same parameters as an initiative petition. It further said pre-election challenges are limited to claims that the procedures for submitting a proposal to the voters were not followed," and therefore Proposition D isn't open to pre-election review."
"[We appreciate] the Court of Appeals ruling and our positive campaign in support of Proposition D for safer roads and safer streets is moving ahead, as we take our case to voters over the next nine weeks," Scott Charton, spokesman for SaferMO.com - which supports Proposition D - said. "Missouri is losing ground on road and bridge progress because of the eroded purchasing power of the state motor fuels user tax that was last raised 22 years ago. That 17 cents motor fuels user tax is today worth 7 cents, while the number of highway lanes in the nation’s seventh-largest state road system has increased by 6,200 miles."
KOMU 8 News has reached out to Rep. Moon and Calzone for comment on Tuesday's ruling.