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States brief ~ PA Supreme Court upholds slot-machine law

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's states brief, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the state's slot-machine gambling law [text]. While rejecting some parts of the law, the court found that the process used by the legislature to enact the law was constitutional. Attorneys argued over constitutional provisions that say a bill cannot be amended to change its original purpose and the requirement that legislation address a single subject. In the opinion [PDF text], Chief Justice Ralph Cappy wrote, "we conclude, that as a matter of law, there was a single unifying subject to which most of the provisions of the act are germane, the regulation of gambling." The court threw out the section of the Gaming Act which gave the state Gaming Control Board the power to override local zoning ordinances when determining where to locate the casinos. View Governor Ed Rendell's Chief of Staff John Estey's statement here. AP has more.

In other states news ...

  • A New Jersey appeals Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit of a Seton Hall student who claimed that the University's refusal to recognize a gay and lesbian group violated the state's law against discrimination [NJ AG summary]. The court found that the law's exemption for religiously affiliated institutions applies to Seton Hall and that the school did not waive the exemption with its anti-discrimination policy [university website]. Seton Hall University is operated by the Archdiocese of Newark and receives state and federal funding. Read the opinion here [PDF text]. AP has more.

  • The New Mexico Court of Appeals [official website] heard arguments Wednesday over the constitutionality of Santa Fe's living wage ordinance [PDF text]. Some local businesses are claiming that the city went beyond its constitutional authority by enacting the ordinance. The ordinance was enacted in February 2003 and went into effect almost one year ago after a state court ruled in favor of the city. AP has more.

  • The Supreme Court of Missouri has upheld the constitutionality of the state's use tax law [PDF text] which allows local governments to tax mail-order purchases at the same rate as the local sales tax. Kirkwood Glass Co. Inc., argued that the law violated the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution because consumers could pay more use tax in one Missouri city than the sales tax in another city. In its opinion [text], the Supreme Court rejected that argument by saying that a jurisdiction's use tax can only be compared to that same jurisdiction's sales tax and the use tax is fine if it is equal to or lesser than the sales tax. In 1994 the US Supreme Court stuck down the state's use tax law by finding it unconstitutional under the interstate commerce clause because in some parts of the state the tax was higher than the sales tax. The legislature responded by passing a new use tax law. AP has more.

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