Friday, February 6, 2009

Tobacco Tax Increase Bill Referred to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee

Having cleared the House without a single vote to spare, the cigarette tax increase (HB1204) now heads to the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee where it was referred Friday afternoon. Shortly after the vote on Thursday, I found Gov. Beebe’s spokesman Matt DeCample sitting visibly exhausted on a bench in the capital rotunda. I congratulated him on his victory and asked him what he taught his chances where in the Senate. “I really don’t know,” he said. “But I am starting on that tonight!”

Although the bill passed the House with only the required 75 votes, the bill received little scrutiny in the House Rules Committee where members appointed by the Speaker Robbie Wills all supported the bill. So it will be interesting to see how the Senate Committee handles the bill where the support is not universal. With five votes needed for passage, four committee members - Senators John Paul Capps, Steve Faris, Bobby Glover, and Paul Miller – have gone on the record with Roby Brock as supporting the bill. Two committee members – Republicans Sen. Denny Altes and Democrat Sen. Terry Smith – are likely to oppose the bill. The other Republican on the committee – Sen. Sharon Trusty – usually opposes tax increases but has said she is still uncommitted on this one. Even if the bill passes committee, her vote will be important to watch to gauge her support when the bill reaches the Senate floor where it needs 27 out of 35 votes. That leaves the final committee member Democrat Senator Larry Teague who recently commented on the tobacco tax on KATV’s show the Daily Debrief. Teague said that he believes the cigarette tax would be a regressive tax and place an undue burden on the poor but at the same time his home district would benefit from the funding for community based health centers. Teague perhaps summed up the way most legislators feel about the bill when he said. “I don’t like the cigarette tax but I will probably vote for it.”


Cameron Bluff said...

So, WTF, Decample was exhausted from speaking for the Governor?

Jason Tolbert, CPA said...

Probably exhausted from dealing with crazy right wing bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Terry Smith...Terry Rice is a Republican Rep from Waldron.