Eye On Boise

Senators seek payoff to tobacco sellers

Incredibly, when the amendments to the cigarette tax bill came out in the Senate today, they included raising the percentage payout to tobacco wholesalers. A lobbyist for the wholesalers, Jerry Deckard, had made a pitch unsuccessfully to raise their take from 2.61 percent of the tax to 5 percent. That got rejected in the House, and generated little enthusiasm at a committee hearing this morning – but senators at the last minute decided to give them 4 percent.

Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, estimated that upping the figure to 5 percent would have given the wholesalers a $1 million-a-year windfall, at state expense. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, co-sponsor of the Senate amendments, said he thought that figure really was closer to just $800,000.

Either way, that’s a cool half-million bucks that senators decided the tobacco wholesalers should pick up, in exchange for stamping cigarettes. They’ll do the same amount of stamping or less – the amount of cigarettes sold in Idaho is dropping.

The other amendments make the current tax rate of 57 cents a pack permanent, direct the gains from the tax in the second year and thereafter to renovating the state Capitol, and raise amounts going to a tumor registry and anti-cancer program back to match current allotments, which the bill earlier had dropped slightly.

Senators just passed the amended bill on a 29-6 vote.


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Eye On Boise

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