Judge Orders Tobacco Tax onto November Ballot
A state judge today ordered a proposed tobacco tax increase to appear on Missouri's November 7th ballot. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.
A state judge today (Monday) ordered a proposed tobacco tax increase to appear on Missouri's November 7th ballot.
Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown ruled that supporters had gathered enough valid petition signatures.
The ruling overturns a decision last month that the amendment had fallen 274 names short.
The proposed constitutional amendment would raise the state's 17-cents-a-pack cigarette tax to 97 cents a pack.
Supporters of the tobacco tax increase say they're pleased with the latest ruling but opponents say they plan to file an appeal tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.
Chuck Hatfield is the attorney for the supporters of the increase, a group called Committee for a Healthy Future.
He says the judge agreed that signatures got thrown out when they should've been counted.
But opponents of the tax increase say the petitions are flawed.
Marc Ellinger is the attorney for the opposing group Missourians Against Tax Abuse.
Ellinger says if the tax increase goes on the ballot and passes, it will create many problems for state government.
But supporters of the tobacco tax increase say the idea is to reimburse healthcare providers and the state for the cost of caring for smokers.
Jim Blaine is a Springfield physician and a volunteer with the American Lung Association.
He says the increased tax revenue will provide healthcare access for the poor in exchange for smokers paying some of the costs they put on the healthcare system.
Because the tobacco tax increase is slated for the November ballot, opponents say they will file an *expedited* appeal in an effort to get a timely hearing at the appellate level.