Update: Wyoming House To Reconsider Cigarette Tax Wednesday
UPDATE; The house will reconsider the cigarette tax on Wednesday afternoon after rejecting the proposal on Tuesday. House members would have to first approve taking another vote, and if that passes a reconsideration vote would then be held. The motion to reconsider was called by Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Sublette) who voted with the majority against the measure on Tuesday. The Wyoming Legislature allows those voting with the majority on third reading to call for a reconsideration of the issue.
The Wyoming House of Representatives said no to a 30 cent a pack increase in the tax on cigarettes on Tuesday.
The vote on third and final reading was 38-22 against House Bill 151.
In debate on the bill, House Minority Floor Leader Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) said she wished the bill would have imposed a tax of $2.00 per pack, which she said would raise $53 million annually in revenues to the state The current tax is 60 cents per pack, with the proposal calling for a 90 cents per pack tax.
Connolly noted that on discussion of the bill in committee she had proposed raising the tax to $1.15 per pack, but that proposal was rejected by committee members. She echoed statements by Governor Matt Mead that the state faces a "crisis" in education funding. She told her fellow house members "we have to do something as a body" to increase state revenues.
But several opponents of the bill said there are numerous studies that show increasing cigarette taxes actually leads to lower revenues rather than more money being generated. Several house members said people from surrounding states are currently buying their cigarettes in Wyoming, but might not make the trip if Wyoming raises the cigarette tax.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R-Crook/Weston) said the state doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Rep. Landon Brown (R-Laramie) called the bill "an attempt at social engineering." Rep. Roy Edwards (R-Campbell County) said the tax wouldn't make anyone stop smoking by itself.
Wyoming last raised its cigarette tax in 2003,