MO Statehouse
5:12 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

Bills to raise cigarette tax filed in Mo. House

Two bills have been filed in the Missouri House that would raise the state's tax on cigarettes, which is currently the lowest in the nation at 17 cents a pack.

The first bill would only raise the tax on cigarettes by 12 cents a pack, while the second would raise it by a dollar a pack.

Both are sponsored by State Representative Mary Still (D, Columbia).

"This would give us the revenue we need to really make the investments we need to move our state forward," Still said.  "I don't know that people realize that we could raise our tax by 12 cents a pack and still be the lowest in the country."

Still says a 12-cent tax hike would bring in about $68 million a year in revenue, while raising it by a dollar would bring in more than half a billion a year.  But House Republicans and Democratic Governor Jay Nixon both remain opposed to any tax hike.

House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says, though, he'll allow the cigarette tax bills to be heard in committee.

"They'll be referred just like any other bill," Tilley told reporters today.  "That's something I pretty much told everybody that we're gonna do a little different than what we've done in the past, and not bottle everything up in the Speaker's office and kill it before it gets an opportunity."

Because of the amount of revenue the proposed dollar-per-pack bill would raise, it would have to be approved by Missouri voters.  But Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) voiced support for a statewide vote in a recent op-ed piece.

Missouri voters have rejected two attempts in the past decade to raise cigarette taxes.