Senate passes increase in alcohol, tobacco taxes

The Senate this morning passed House Bill 144, which would increase the state’s alcohol and tobacco taxes, by a vote of 24 to 12. 

The bill’s passage relied heavily on Democratic support for its passage, with half of the “yes” votes coming from the minority party in the chamber. 

Nine Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore Katie Stine, broke with their GOP colleagues in voting against the measure, which required at least 23 votes for passage. 

Two senators – Sen. David Boswell, D-Sorgho, and Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard – changed their “no” votes from when the bill was in front of the Senate A&R Committee to “yes” on Friday. 

Boswell said he changed his vote after realizing the full impact of not passing the tax increases would have on state services and education. 

Boswell said he hopes the federal economic stimulus package that Kentucky will receive can help fill some of the budget gaps Kentucky is facing this year and in the near future. 

“I can only hope that the stimulus package … will add some releif to our state’s situation as well as other states across this country,” Boswell told the chamber. 

Several lawmakers said their vote in favor of the measure came with the hope that a more comprehensive overhaul of the state’s tax system was on the horizon. 

“We’re going to have to make some tough choices going into the future,” said Sen. Gerald Neal, a Louisville Democrat. “We’re going to have to make some choices we have not made in the past.”


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