House rejects proposed Senate changes to cigarette tax hike - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

House rejects proposed Senate changes to cigarette tax hike

State Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa (Source: James Sparvero/WAFB) State Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa (Source: James Sparvero/WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Changes to the proposed cigarette tax hike went up in smoke Tuesday morning.

The House voted to reject the Senate's idea to raise the tax on cigarettes 72 cents to $1.08 per pack. 

"If we go too high on this initially, we're going to kill the market," said Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley.

"Trying to collect all of our taxes from poor people is not good tax policy," said Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe.

Because most House members thought the raise was too high, HB 119 is now headed to a special conference committee, where it will be finalized in efforts to get it to Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk.  

The Senate's changes would have upped next year's revenue on the bill from $68 million to $188 million.

State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, was the most outspoken lawmaker against the tax hike. 

Supporters say that would be a big help to close the state deficit and discourage people from smoking.

"If we don't do this, then we're going to have to go back and find another way that we can come up with that money," said Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.

State Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, authored the bill, which passed the House last month as a 32-cent tax hike to raise $68 million. 

Louisiana's current cigarette tax of 36-cents a pack is the country's second lowest.

"We all know the arguments about tobacco. You know where I stand. You know the numbers and everything," said Rep. Ritchie.

Rep. Ritchie, a smoker for 50 years, supported the changes. He said they will be crucial to funding healthcare, but Rep. Harris called them "unfair tax policy." 

"If you want to protect Louisiana workers and Louisiana wholesalers, then you need to reject these amendments," said Rep. Harris.

Rep. Ritchie countered saying other states, like Texas, have raised their cigarette tax even higher than what's proposed this year.

Regardless, the Senate changes were rejected overwhelmingly in an 81-15 vote.

A special committee of three members of the House and three members of the Senate will now meet behind closed doors to hash out a tax hike both sides can agree on before it goes to Gov. Jindal to be signed into law.

The move is all part of the even bigger picture, as lawmakers have just three days left to finalize a budget before the session ends Thursday.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 4 dead, 4 injured in Waffle House shooting

    4 dead, 4 injured in Waffle House shooting

    Sunday, April 22 2018 5:55 AM EDT2018-04-22 09:55:32 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 12:02 PM EDT2018-04-22 16:02:35 GMT
    Travis Reinking (Courtesy: Metro Police)Travis Reinking (Courtesy: Metro Police)

    Four people were killed and four others were injured in a shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch. A white man wearing nothing a green jacket went into the restaurant and started firing a gun resembling an AR-15. Police are still searching for him. 

    More >>

    Four people were killed and four others were injured in a shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch. A white man wearing nothing a green jacket went into the restaurant and started firing a gun resembling an AR-15. Police are still searching for him. 

    More >>
  • Woman loses home at auction to former attorney

    Woman loses home at auction to former attorney

    Saturday, April 21 2018 11:11 PM EDT2018-04-22 03:11:04 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 5:23 AM EDT2018-04-22 09:23:15 GMT
    Sawyers watched her Florissant, MO, home go to auction Thursday. The highest bidder was her former attorney. (Source: KPLR/CNN)Sawyers watched her Florissant, MO, home go to auction Thursday. The highest bidder was her former attorney. (Source: KPLR/CNN)

    Sawyers watched her Florissant, MO, home go to auction Thursday. The highest bidder was her former attorney.

    More >>

    Sawyers watched her Florissant, MO, home go to auction Thursday. The highest bidder was her former attorney.

    More >>
  • 4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

    4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

    Sunday, April 22 2018 8:34 AM EDT2018-04-22 12:34:45 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 12:06 PM EDT2018-04-22 16:06:37 GMT
    A customer at the restaurant took the gun from the suspect, who then took off his coat and fled the area. (Source: CNN)A customer at the restaurant took the gun from the suspect, who then took off his coat and fled the area. (Source: CNN)
    Police in Tennessee say three people were killed and four were injured in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant early Sunday. (Source: CNN)Police in Tennessee say three people were killed and four were injured in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant early Sunday. (Source: CNN)

    A customer at the restaurant took the gun from the suspect, who then took off his coat and fled the area. 

    More >>

    A customer at the restaurant took the gun from the suspect, who then took off his coat and fled the area. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly