Friday, January 16, 2009

Cigarette Tax Passes House

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed HB 364, which allowed for a cigarette tax increase of 82 cents. If the House plan makes it through the Senate, the state's total cigarette tax would be $1 per pack. HB 364 passed 81-39.

Two amendments failed in the process. The first amendment, presented by Representative Bobby Howell (R-Kilmichael), would have trimmed the increase to 42 cents. It failed 56-65. Representative Greg Snowden (R-Meridian) brings up a good point in his blog (click here to read Snowden's entry on HB 364). Snowden notes that the amendment was, in the end, defeated by six Republicans, who ended up not voting for the final bill. Their principled opposition to any tax increase is admirable; however, it's ironic that by voting against the amendment, they ended up raising the cigarette tax increase by 40 cents.

However, the final cigarette tax increase will likely not be anywhere near $1 per pack. The Senate is likely to pass out a 24-cent increase to a total of 42 cents. The bill will then go to conference, with the final total cigarette tax landing around 50-68 cents.

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