Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Update on Gas Tax and Tobacco Issues

The Senate Finance and Taxation Committee acted on SB 2288 (gas tax) Tuesday morning. The Committee approved a motion to amend the bill to 27 cents, instead of 30 cents – which changes it to a 4 cent increase. The committee gave the bill a Do NOT Pass recommendation by a vote of 5-1. Committee members opposing the increase stated that the need for additional funding wasn’t demonstrated and that the Interim Government Finance Committee reviewed funding issues and didn’t see a need to make any recommendations.

Several bills pertaining to tobacco and tobacco products have been heard with a few being defeated on the floor already.  HB 1236, a bill to raise the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 19 was reported out of the House Human Services committee with a Do Not Pass recommendation, 8-5 with 1 absent and not voting.  The bill subsequently failed to pass the House 25-63.

The House Human Services Committee further recommended a Do Not Pass on HB 1274 which would make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of 9.  Arguments against passage included arbitrary age, infringement on personal rights and difficult enforcement.  HB 1274 failed on the floor 31-57.

The House Finance and Tax Committee sent HB 1450 to the floor with a Do Not Pass recommendation, 11-2.  Representatives who spoke in favor of supporting the Committee’s Do Not Pass decision, argued the tax was “regressive in nature”, and was not a large revenue-producing source at the proposed price increase.  It was also noted that the majority of ND voters defeated the initiated tobacco tax increase measure by 62-38% and therefore not supported by the population.  The House failed to pass HB 1450, 25-66.

HB 1386 also failed in the House 22-69 after receiving a Do Not Pass recommendation from the House Finance and Taxation Committee. Opponents of the bill did not believe it was in the best interest of the public to reclassify the tobacco vs nicotine definitions and were reluctant to include electronic devices stating the CDC has noted vaping is the most popular method to quit smoking. Further objections included the addition of accessories and/or components of the device stating there is no precedence.

Despite testimony from organizations such as TFND, ALA, ACS-CAN and ND DOH in support of the bills aimed at preventing youth smoking, the bills faced strong opposition from vape shop owners and industry personnel who testified against the legislation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive