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Iowa court seeks debate

Jul 16, 2002 8:21 AM

A divided Iowa Supreme Court took unusual action last week when its 4-3 decision against a state tax ruling was appealed by the state’s attorney general.

The decision said that the state was wrong to tax racetracks at 32% while riverboat casinos paid just 20%. The decision, made retroactive, would have resulted in a financial bonanza for the tracks.

But the attorney general charged that the court did not have jurisdiction in the case and did not have to right to intrude on the authority of Iowa’s elected lawmakers.

Without ruling on the attorney general’s appeal, the court asked that representatives of the racetracks get involved in the debate, hoping, no doubt that a compromise could be reached without requiring further legal interpretation from the court.

Observers felt that the move probably indicated the court would review the entire decision citing the state’s action as unconstitutional since it violated equal-protection under the law. Yet, it’s been noted that the court has a history of sustaining its prior decisions, overturning only two during the past 10 years.

Supporters of the tracks and their appeal for a lower tax were ordered to present their arguments to the court by July 24 with a final decision on the appeal coming next month.