Judge rules in state's favor over fuel tax ballot issue
JEFFERSON CITY - An Osage County judge ruled in favor of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Aschroft on Tuesday in the legal battle over a ballot issue to raise the state fuel tax.
In July, Rep. Mike Moon, R-Lawrence, and activist Ron Calzone filed a lawsuit over House Bill 1460, which authorizes a tax deduction for prizes or awards won by Olympic medalists. It also included a referendum to increase the fuel tax.
Moon and Calzone argued the fuel tax language was added to the bill at the last minute and gave the bill more than one purpose, violating the Missouri Constitution. Filings by Ashcroft's legal team refuted those claims.
In Tuesday's ruling, Judge Robert Schollmeyer upheld Ashcroft's arguments, finding that while the case "does present a justiciable concern...H.B. 1460 does not clearly and undoubtedly violate [the state constitution]."
He further said, "H.B. 1460's original purpose was to regulate Missouri's revenue laws. One method...was to provide athletes a taxable deduction [for]...any prize awarded to them at the Olympic games. After the bill was finally passed...the bill added a tax on the sale of motor fuel and the creation of an emergency road fund...[which are] simply additional methods to accomplish H.B. 1460's broader purpose."
The ruling also denied the plaintiffs' arguments that the state constitution only allows bills to have a single subject. Schollmeyer found both the tax deduction and fuel tax referendum concern the same subject, namely regulating revenue laws.
The fuel tax referendum is on the November ballot as Proposition D, and will be decided on November 6.