Today, the Senate passed out a 31-cent cigarette tax increase by a vote of 42-7. This would bring Mississippi's total cigarette tax to 49 cents. I was able to catch some of the Senate debate during lunch. One amendment hotly debated was to increase the cigarette tax to $1 per pack, like the House version allowed for. That amendment failed by 4 votes.
The Senate bill included a provision to cap car tag fees with some of the cigarette tax revenue. I think this provision was added by a few senators who can now technically say they voted for a "tax swap" instead of an outright "tax increase."
The bill will now go to conference committee between the House and Senate. The House's version calls for an 82-cent increase, and the Senate's version calls for a 31-cent increase. The likely total tax will land in the middle, somewhere between 50-70 cents total. Because both sides seem to want this increase to go into effect March 1 (so we can earn some revenue this fiscal year, which ends June 30), conference committee for the bill will probably get underway early next week.