211 A.2d 553 (Me. 1965), State v. Stinson Canning Co.

Citation211 A.2d 553, 161 Me. 320
Opinion JudgeRUDMAN, J.
Party NameSTATE of Maine v. STINSON CANNING COMPANY.
AttorneyRalph W. Farris, Jon R. Doyle, Asst. Atty. Gen., Augusta, for plaintiff., Richard B. Sanborn, Augusta, for defendant. Ralph W. Farris, Jon R. Doyle, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Plaintiff. Richard B. Sanborn, for Defendant.
Case DateJuly 09, 1965
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine

Page 553

211 A.2d 553 (Me. 1965)

161 Me. 320

STATE of Maine

v.

STINSON CANNING COMPANY.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

July 9, 1965

Page 554

Ralph W. Farris, Jon R. Doyle, Asst. Atty. Gen., Augusta, for plaintiff.

Richard B. Sanborn, Augusta, for defendant.

RUDMAN, Justice.

On report on an agreed statement of facts.

This is an action to recover the amount of a tax assessed [161 Me. 321] against the defendant corporation by virtue of the Sardine Tax Law, Title 36, M.R.S., Sections 4691-4700.

The Defendant is a licensed and certified packer of sardines in Prospect Harbor, Maine, and was engaged, and has continued to be so engaged since the enactment of the Sardine Tax Law. It is admitted that the Defendant packed 3,345 cases of sardines during the month of June 1964 and the tax is unpaid. The State Tax Assessor levied an assessment for the tax due against the Defendant in the amount of $836.25.

The Defendant contends that the Sardine Tax Law is unconstitutional for the following reasons:

'1. Tax is a property tax not equally apportioned and assessed rather than an excise tax.

'2. An advertising tax for non-agricultural products is illegal.

'3. An advertising tax for processed or manufactured products is illegal.

'4. The tax is for a private rather than a public purpose.

'5. It is illegal for the State to engage in the business of buying and selling sardines.'

The Sardine Tax Law was first enacted by the Ninety-fifth Legislature. Public Laws 1951, Chapter 2.

The preamble reads as follows:

'Whereas, the packing and merchandising or sardines is one of the most important industries of the state and a benefit to the public generally; and

'Whereas, it is vitally necessary to furnish employment and enhance the livelihood of the coastal and other people of Maine; and

'Whereas, legislation is necessary to protect the public health and welfare and to promote and [161 Me. 322] conserve the prosperity and welfare of the people of the state by fostering and promoting better methods of production, packing, merchandising and advertising in the sardine industry of this state; and

'Whereas, in the judgment of the legislature, these facts create an emergency, within the meaning of the constitution of Maine, and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety.'

The purposes of the Act are stated in Section 4691, as follows:

'The packing of sardines is one of the most important industries of the State, and this chapter will protect the public health and welfare, stabilize the industry and conserve and promote the prosperity and welfare of the State by fostering and promoting better methods of production, packing, merchandising and advertising in the sardine industry of this State.'

The declared purposes of the Act are to be accepted as true unless incompatible within its meaning and effect.

'The court is bound to assume that, in the passage of any law, the Legislature acted with full knowledge of all constitutional restrictions and intelligently, honestly, and discriminatingly decided that they were acting within their constitutional limits and powers. That determination is not to be lightly

Page 555

set aside. It is not enough that the court be of the opinion that, had the question been originally submitted to it for decision, it might have held the contrary view. The question has been submitted in the first instance to the tribunal designated by the Constitution, the Legislature, and its decision is not to be overturned by the court unless no room is left for rational doubt. All honest and reasonable doubts are to be solved in favor of the constitutionality of the act. This healthy doctrine is recognized as the settled policy of this court.' Laughlin v. City of Portland, 111 Me. 486, 489, 90 A. 318, 319. [161 Me. 323] See Morris v. Goss, 147 Me. 89, 83 A.2d 556; Crommett v. City of Portland, 150 Me. 217, 107 A.2d 841; State v. The Fantastic Fair et...

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9 practice notes
  • 499 A.2d 921 (Me. 1985), Eastler v. State Tax Assessor
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 16, 1985
    ...However, the Maine Constitution contains no limitation on the legislative imposition of taxes on business, State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 325, 211 A.2d 553, 556 (1965), if the tax is for a public purpose and is assessed uniformly upon all business of a like kind. State v. Wester......
  • 455 A.2d 1 (Me. 1983), Common Cause v. State
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 7, 1983
    ...e.g., Opinion of the Justices, 437 A.2d 597 (Me.1981) (conveyance of submerged lands to private interests); State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 211 A.2d 553 (1965) (tax to fund research and advertising for sardine industry); Crommett (eminent domain and public spending for slum clear......
  • 501 A.2d 16 (Me. 1985), Opinion of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • November 25, 1985
    ...the extent of the sardine packer's engaging in the occupation, the sardine tax was held to be a true excise. State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 329, 211 A.2d 553 (1965). Those who now seek to impose an excise on commercial forestry have departed from such precedents; L.D. 1661 levie......
  • 255 A.2d 655 (Me. 1969), Opinion of the Justices
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 10, 1969
    ...the tax 'shall be a personal debt of the taxpayer to the State.' For examples of taxes not on property see State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 211 A.2d 553 (excise tax); State v. Hamlin, 86 Me. 495, 30 A. 76 (graduated inheritance tax); Opinion of Justices, 102 Me. 527, 529, 66 A. 72......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • 499 A.2d 921 (Me. 1985), Eastler v. State Tax Assessor
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 16, 1985
    ...However, the Maine Constitution contains no limitation on the legislative imposition of taxes on business, State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 325, 211 A.2d 553, 556 (1965), if the tax is for a public purpose and is assessed uniformly upon all business of a like kind. State v. Wester......
  • 455 A.2d 1 (Me. 1983), Common Cause v. State
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 7, 1983
    ...e.g., Opinion of the Justices, 437 A.2d 597 (Me.1981) (conveyance of submerged lands to private interests); State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 211 A.2d 553 (1965) (tax to fund research and advertising for sardine industry); Crommett (eminent domain and public spending for slum clear......
  • 501 A.2d 16 (Me. 1985), Opinion of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • November 25, 1985
    ...the extent of the sardine packer's engaging in the occupation, the sardine tax was held to be a true excise. State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 329, 211 A.2d 553 (1965). Those who now seek to impose an excise on commercial forestry have departed from such precedents; L.D. 1661 levie......
  • 255 A.2d 655 (Me. 1969), Opinion of the Justices
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 10, 1969
    ...the tax 'shall be a personal debt of the taxpayer to the State.' For examples of taxes not on property see State v. Stinson Canning Co., 161 Me. 320, 211 A.2d 553 (excise tax); State v. Hamlin, 86 Me. 495, 30 A. 76 (graduated inheritance tax); Opinion of Justices, 102 Me. 527, 529, 66 A. 72......
  • Request a trial to view additional results