Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down vape tax imposed by Gov. Evers
This morning, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ veto authority which recently allowed him to increase the state sales taxes on vaping products statewide. For decades, the high court has allowed governors to implement partial vetoes on specific line items in legislation related to state budgets. In today’s 4-3 ruling, the conservative-controlled court ruled that Gov. Evers had overstepped his authority in three individual circumstances.
In a lawsuit brought forth by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the judges sided with the plaintiffs to block the governor’s ability to lift restrictions on how $75 million set aside for the state transportation department could be spent. The second decision barred Evers’ ability to shift public money from school busses purchases and maintenance to the construction of charging stations for electric vehicles.
The third ruling rolled back a veto that would have increased the sales tax on all vapor products by five-percent. Oddly, the court also voted 5-2 to uphold the governor’s ability to veto new truck licensing fees. Rick Esenberg, a representative of the institute bringing the lawsuit, issued the following statement via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Governor Evers used the partial veto power to create new laws never approved by the Legislature…The court's decision recognizes limits to the partial veto power that will safeguard liberty and uphold the separation of powers."
Conservative Justices Rebecca Bradley, Brian Hagedorn, Daniel Kelly and Annette Ziegler ruled against the vape tax veto, with Justice Hagedorn saying that the incredibly broad veto powers of a sitting governor “should not be read to fundamentally upend the overall structure of our government embedded in our constitution.” In the official ruling, Hagedorn further writes, "The constitution's placement of law-creation in the hands of the Legislature means we cannot permit a practice that turns the governor into a one-person legislature."