Republican lawmakers are taking steps to kill a proposed increase in Montana's tobacco tax.
The tax increase would raise tens of millions of dollars a year that would go, in part, to increase the wages of caregivers for elderly and disabled Medicaid patients.
In a party line vote, the House Taxation Committee today approved a motion requiring a supermajority to send that tax bill to the House floor for further consideration. At least 60 of the 100 representatives will have to vote to do that.
Republican Rep. Kerry White of Bozeman says he's concerned about the impact of the tax on low-income people:
"I have grave concerns about the impact on this to low-income. And the other thing I was looking at with the other states that are neighboring; the black market possibility. You're talking a $30 profit on a carton of cigarettes," White says.
Democratic Rep. Tom Jacobson from Great Falls says this bill should been given more time for discussion and debate on the house floor:
"I cannot emphasize enough that these kinds of shenanigans should be put aside and allow fair, honest debate and voting where a majority, a simple majority — a set aside — can approve or disapprove that. You're denying representatives and the actual democracy that we've come in here. I cannot strongly object enough," Jacobson says.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic Senator Mary Caferro of Helena says she thinks the bill is dead.