The State Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in the challenge to the tobacco tax initiative being on the November ballot. Attorney Marc Ellinger, representing Missourians Against Tax Abuse – which wants the issue off the ballot – argued many of the people who signed the petition were not eligible to do so, and the signatures should not count. Ellinger further argued that even if the signatures were valid, allowing appropriation by initiative would force an unpaid mandate on the state, which he says is unacceptable.
Attorney Robert Hess, representing the Committee for a Healthy Future – the group that spearheaded the petition initiative – argued the required number of signatures was collected, even though there were delays in ascertaining that fact, so the issue should be on the November ballot. The group counters the unfunded mandate claim by saying the administrative costs would come from the revenues collected. The Secretary of State initially rejected the initiative because of a lack of valid signatures from the 5th Congressional District in Kansas City. Supporters of the initiative found additional signatures and launched a legal challenge to that order. A Cole County Circuit Judge overturned the order, which was challenged by opponents and ended up in the Supreme Court. No word on when the judges will rule.