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SC Moves To Dismiss Gas Tax Lawsuit

Attorney general asks circuit court judge to toss the case …

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The state of South Carolina has moved to dismiss a lawsuit brought by this website’s founding editor, Will Folks, challenging the constitutionality of a massive tax increase passed by the S.C. General Assembly earlier this year.

According to the state’s pleading (all three sentences of it), S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson and solicitor general Bob Cook argue that our founding editor has “failed to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action” in the lawsuit – which was filed last month.

Specifically, they say that the law he is challenging – the infamous Act 40 of 2017 – “does not violate (the state constitution).”

Here’s their complete pleading …

(Click to view)

(Cap: S.C. Fifth Judicial Circuit)

Such detailed legal reasoning, eh?

Folks’ lawsuit (.pdf) contends that the S.C. General Assembly violated the state’s constitution when they passed this massive tax hike – a.k.a. Act 40 of 2017.  Specifically, the suit accuses lawmakers of ignoring the constitutional requirement that all legislation “relate to but one subject.”

“Every Act or resolution having the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title,” Article III, Section 17 of the S.C. Constitution (.pdf) states.

According to the suit, various “add-ons” to the bill – which were attached with the intention of luring reluctant State Senators into supporting it – address “completely unrelated subjects” to the subject of the legislation, i.e. our state’s infrastructure.

Had these add-ons not been included, the bill never would have passed the State Senate … but with them, it fails to pass constitutional muster.

“You can’t break laws to make laws,” our founding editor has said from the beginning of this legal drama.

The controversial levy – which includes a gas tax hike and numerous other tax and fee increases – went into effect on July 1.  It will deprive the Palmetto State’s economy of an estimated $1.8 billion over the next six years and around $600 million annually each and every year thereafter.

Supporters claim his massive tax hike – on top of prior spending increases and borrowing bills – will “fix our roads.”

Will it?  No …

As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, “billions of dollars in new spending for infrastructure has already failed to solve the problem, and ramping up this failed ‘more money’ approach will continue to produce poor returns until infrastructure projects are properly prioritized and the state’s transportation bureaucracies are reformed.”

Worth considering?  Earlier this month South Carolina good government gadfly Ned Sloan won an important case before the S.C. Supreme Court regarding a controversial state Department of Transportation (SCDOT) expenditure.   More important that Sloan’s victory on the merits of that case, though, was the court’s determination that he had the right to have his case heard.

In addition to siding with Sloan on the facts of the case, the high court also concluded that circuit court judge Casey Manning erred in determining that Sloan did not have standing to bring the lawsuit.

That ruling could be critical in this case …

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