From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Tobacco tax to become law.

In Cigarette Tax on 12 February 2009 at 3:47 pm

Weeks of debate finally ended this morning as the Senate voted 28-7 in favor of Gov. Beebe’s proposed tobacco tax hike. 27 votes were required for passage.

This morning’s vote was an anti-climatic finale. Senate galleries were packed, but the debate had none of the suspense of last week’s boisterous House vote. Those opposed to the tax seemed resigned to their defeat. While four senators made brief remarks supporting the tax, only Sen. Johnny Key spoke against it. He said he did not believe that this is the time to raise taxes.

The only surprise was a yes vote from Sen. Terry Smith, who made a motion in committee yesterday that would have jeopardized the bill by amending it and sending it back to the House. Rep. Robbie Wills said after the vote that he had constantly impressed upon Sen. Smith, a fellow Democrat, that his support was needed, though Rep. Wills was unsure whether Sen. Smith changed his mind due to the pressure.

The tax will go into effect on 1 March. Legislation is still to be passed to create a trauma system, which the tax will fund.

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