District court ruling says Basin’s occupation tax in LB 701 is constitutional
Latest decision will be appealed to higher court
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Lancaster County District Court Judge Robert Otte ruled Monday that the occupation tax created in LB 701 is constitutional.
However, any celebration by Republican Basin natural resources districts or the state of Nebraska was short lived.
On Tuesday, plaintiffs in the case had already filed an appeal of the ruling. This likely means at least another nine to 12 months before a higher court rules.
The case could go to the state’s Court of Appeals or the Nebraska Supreme Court could take the case directly.
When the Lancaster District Court judge ruled in May, 2008 that the property tax in LB 701 was unconstitutional, that appeal was handled directly by the Supreme Court.
That decision, also declaring the tax unconstitutional, came down in February, 2009. While the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled the tax unconstitutional, it was on a different basis than the district court.
In addition to the property tax levy found unconstitutional, LB 701 also gave NRDs the right to assess a per-acre occupation tax on irrigated ground. It was this tax that was challenged in the latest case.
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