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Franklin County Judge Overrules State On Cigarette Tax

Franklin County challenges state cigarette tax
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

A Franklin County Judge has gone over the State of Washington, and agreed with several cigarette shop vendors who say a new tax on ‘roll-your-own’ products is in violation of state law.

Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner’s decision means Franklin County vendors will not be hit with a new .15 cent tax which takes effect this Sunday.   Several businesses, including 1/2 Price Smokes, and RYO Machines, challenged the new tax, saying it violated I-1023.  That initiative, passed by the legislature in 2010, requires a 2/3 majority in Olympia before new taxes can be levied.  The tax proposal did not meet the required statute in the Senate, but Gov. Gregoire signed it into law anyway.

  The ‘roll-your-own’ bill, HR 2565, was the measure that failed to get the 2/3 majority.  Judge Spanner dismissed the state’s argument that courts do not have the right to question why the bill passed without the 2/3 majority.  While it is expected the state will challenge Spanner’s ruling,  he said the courts have the right to make “scrutinize” what the legislature has signed off on.    The tax was aimed at the growing ‘roll-your-own’ cigarette business, which is gaining popularity due to ever-increasing regular cigarette prices (due to taxes) in Washington State.

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